2.11.17

SCALING BACK THE RETAIL RAILROADING.

The CSX Transportation Company continues to spin its downsizing as productivity improvements.
The railroad aims to end container sorting at its busy intermodal terminal in North Baltimore, Ohio, by Nov. 11. And CSX will not build the Carolina Connector, a similar $270-million terminal planned for Rocky Mount, N.C., Trains News Wire has learned.

The railroad also pulled out of the long-sought project to raise clearances in the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. The tunnel is a barrier to double-stack service to and from the Port of Baltimore, as well as on CSX’s Interstate 95 Corridor linking New Jersey and Florida.
There's going to be some political fallout from the change of plans in Baltimore: perhaps this is a ploy to get taxpayers to share more of the costs.

Elsewhere on the railroad, we're seeing a variation on the old theme of freight trains cutting cars at isolated side tracks for pickup by other trains.  (There's likely a management case study in that practice somewhere, as these days the freight conductor must verify that the train is intact and the end of train device working, which sometimes entails a taxi ride from head end to hind end.)
A spokeswoman for the Maryland governor’s office did not return an email seeking comment.

It is not clear what direction CSX will take with its intermodal network as Harrison rolls out Precision Scheduled Railroading across the system.

This much is clear: The railroad has not closed any intermodal terminals that originate traffic, despite scaling back hundreds of lanes. And CSX is relying much more on intermodal block-swapping, both to increase efficiency and to replace the sorting performed at North Baltimore.

Analysts expected the railroad to provide details on its intermodal strategy at an investor day, but the Oct. 30 event was postponed after management changes were announced on Oct. 25, including the pending departures of CSX’s chief operations and marketing executives.

The Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal opened to much fanfare in 2011 as the $175-million centerpiece of a new intermodal strategy that included sorting containers for Chicago interchange, as well as smaller markets such as Louisville, Ky.; Columbus, Ohio; and Detroit.

As recently as July, CSX executives said North Baltimore was a proven concept that would be extended to the Carolina Connector. Executives also had discussed the potential for adding a third intermodal sorting hub near Atlanta.
We'll see how that plays out.

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