- The Surface Transportation Board will hold a public listening session on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, to hear both from CSX about recent rail service problems and its efforts to resolve those issues as well as adversely affected rail shippers and other impacted stakeholders.
- Since July, the STB has monitored the railroad after problematic results resulted from CSX’s implementation of operational changes. Board members have written twice to CEO Hunter Harrison, and spoken directly with the chief executive once. CSX is also participating in weekly calls with STB staff.
- Meanwhile, the STB's Rail Customer and Public Assistance (RCPA) office is supporting shippers struggling to work with CSX. However, as requests to the RCPA are confidential, they will not be addressed during the Sept. 12 hearing.
After months of chaos resulting from CSX's transition to Precision Scheduled Railroading remake, the STB board is advancing its involvement in overseeing the line's processes.
When Hunter Harrison arrived on the scene early this year, CSX stocks rose steadily as shareholders anticipated a repeat of his previous success with Precision Scheduled Railroading, wherein workforces are minimized, rail cars are grounded or sidelined, and locomotives are deployed to provide greater punctuality. However, once the changes took hold, delays began and dissatisfaction grew from both customers and staff.
The STB's listening session comes as a direct response to shipper complaints, and CSX's promises to improve its performance. Last week, U.S. coal producers Murray Energy and Foresight Energy petitioned the STB to take more firm action addressing the "adequacy" of CSX's ability to transport coal products. Previously, other shippers had filed complaints seeking remunerations for poor service or had requested an "emergency service order" from the Board.
Yet, "CSXT has indicated that its internal metrics are showing that service in some areas is improving and that noticeable improvements should be more evident after Labor Day," the STB wrote in its decision. The hearing, a full week after Labor Day, is an opportunity to test these claims, hear complaints and evaluate further action.
The STB also notes "the Board’s listening session is not intended to replace the data collection or the informal and confidential dispute resolution process facilitated by RCPA, and stakeholders who do not have formal complaints pending (discussed below) are encouraged to continue communicating through that office."