- CSX has announced improvements in its key service metrics, which includes system-wide train velocity increasing by 16%, transit times for scheduled merchandise trains operating at normal range, and terminal dwell times declining more than 15% since the summer, Logistics Management reported.
- The line is scheduled to appear before the Surface Transportation Board for a listening session on Wednesday, in response to a bevy of complaints by CSX customers and stakeholders. The line has also been subject to weekly STB calls monitoring metrics.
- Numbers aside, quality of service is still mixed. Some customers still report significant problems, such as unreliable service, diversion plans being ignored, and a near-failure by a production unit as a result of being overlooked despite promises to the contrary. While others, as reported in the Wall Street Journal last week, say that the company has finally turned a corner.
Are CSX's improvements enough to satisfy the STB and unhappy customers?
The Surface Transportation Board's rescheduling of the September 12 CSX listening session in order to allow the Florida-based railroad to tend to storm preparedness and its aftermath has been rescheduled for October 11, at which time embattled railroad leader Hunter Harrison will be called upon to explain its poor service as described by a variety of current and former customers. A recent presentation to the STB allegedly demonstrates that the decline in service metrics is due to Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) focus on service and train utilization, as opposed to road train origination and arrival metrics.
Complaints about CSX have been largely silent in recent weeks, in part due to the massive storms that caused the meeting delay, but also potentially due to a renewed focus on reestablishing trust between the company and its clients. As the WSJ reported last week, CSX did solicit some letters from their more satisfied customers to send to the STB in order to demonstrate that that previously lacking level of trust was being rebuilt.
The railroad has complied with the STB's requirement that it provide weekly updates regarding metrics, during which it has taken the opportunity to reframe the disruption its hobbling of locomotives, rail cars, and layoffs of more than 2000 workers has created as merely a bump in the road of the ultimately more effective PSR. How it will account for delays of more than a week before the Board as well as its very vocal critics and clients is another matter.