Hump Yards becoming a thing of the past

Status
Not open for further replies.

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,366
Location
Central Indiana
CSX is in a bit of turmoil right now. An investment group has purchased a lot, though not a majority, of the stock and gotten some of their people elected to the Board of Directors. E. Hunter Harrison, who has a reputation for drastic cost-cutting at previous railroads (IC, CN, and CP), quit his job with Canadian Pacific early so he could take over as CEO at CSX (at the direction of the investment group). However, EHH gave up a considerable amount of compenstation, reported to be $84 million, when he left CP and he's now demanding that CSX reimburse him for the lost compensation. EHH has said that if CSX doesn't pay him what he lost by leaving CP, he'll quit.

https://csxadvisoryvote2017.com/

In the meantime, CSX is slashing costs. They are re-jiggering their schedules, adding trains, dropping trains, changing block-swapping schedules, etc. They are also finding ways to cut what they believe to be too many yards, too many corporate divisions, and too many dispatcher centers. You can bet they will be pushing the FRA for one-man crews, too.

Note that they may not be closing Selkirk entirely. They may shut down the hump, but I'll bet that they will still do some switching there.

Of course, the investment community is loving this. All they care about is return on their investment. The folks who have been invested in CSX, and Norfolk Southern, for some time have seen their investments shrink as the big railroads lost coal traffic. They want to recoup their losses.

I'm glad I'm not a rank-and-file CSX employee right now.
 

RadioDitch

Expatriate Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
2,473
Location
Union County, NJ / Labrador West, NL
To clarify, the only changes at Selkirk at this point is cessation of gravity switching (hump switching), in favor of flat switching and block swaps, with a restructuring of yard crews. The yard is not closing, and it is not planned to, and never was.

As to E. Hunter Harrison, the man is a con-artist. His interest is merely in large short-term profits and operating cost reductions with no concern for long term sustainability. He has a long record of "efficiency improvements" that have resulted in the opposite, with numbers showing increasing dwell times, accelerated infrastructure/fleet degradation, and serious safety risks. He was admonished by the FRA and Transport Canada on numerous occasions for causing excessive fatigue on crews, deferring maintenance to a level that caused multiple derailments, and attempting to circumvent labor disputes by training non Train & Engine employees to operate trains. He is a bigger problem, not a solution.

It should also be noted that what is at stake here is not only $84 Million that he doesn't deserve or need for leaving CP, but also that CSX will pay his 2017-2018 taxes in full. If he quits for failure to receive that compensation from CSX, he gets it anyway from his partner in crime, activist investor Paul Hilal of Mantle Ridge Investments.

This is a glorified pump and dump scheme. According to SeekingAlpha and the Wall Street Journal the stock is overvalued by 22%, with a mere $1.53 profit per share. It's projected to take CP up to 15yrs to fully recover from the damage Harrison did. I don't want to imagine how long it will take for CSX to recover from even another single day of EHH.

-Signed, a pissed off investor and son of a 46yr CSX/C&O Vet.
 

cbehr91

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 22, 2010
Messages
326
That article is a tad misleading. While yes, the hump is shutting down, the yard isn't closing. It will be flat switched. At the other humps that have been shut down, layoffs have been minimal because at the same time they have been getting rid of RC operations and going back to two-man switch crews.
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,366
Location
Central Indiana
Actually, the referenced article starts out factually: "CSX plans to shut down its hump operation that sorts rail cars using gravity at its massive Selkirk railyard in coming weeks as a cost-cutting measure." That's a true statement. The article could have stopped right there, but that doesn't fill up the reporter's word-count quota.

The article then goes on to engage in some slightly union-biased speculation: "The memo describes a meeting between CSX management and union representatives at which the union was told the yard was costing too much to operate and that work would be shifted to other yards, including Syracuse." So, CSX said the hump is shutting down, but either the union or the reporter speculated that the yard is shutting down.

The article then extrapolates by saying: "CSX officials wouldn't confirm the upcoming closure, which could happen within two weeks." Of course CSX officials won't confirm the upcoming closure because the yard isn't closing. The hump is being shut down because humps are expensive to operate and maintain, so the work is going to be done using other methods or at other yards.

And, here's the FUD closer to the article: "Harrison closed at least four hump yards when he headed Canadian Pacific Railway, according to CanadianBusiness.com, viewing them as inefficient."

Gotta love the media.
 

RadioDitch

Expatriate Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
2,473
Location
Union County, NJ / Labrador West, NL
And, here's the FUD closer to the article: "Harrison closed at least four hump yards when he headed Canadian Pacific Railway, according to CanadianBusiness.com, viewing them as inefficient."
It was actually five. And problem is he was proven wrong and CP's traffic patterns suffered as a result.
 
D

DaveNF2G

Guest
A friend of mine who dispatches at Selkirk says that they have been informed officially that their jobs are being relocated out of state.
 

wa8pyr

Technischer Guru
Lead Database Admin
Joined
Sep 22, 2002
Messages
5,066
Location
Ohio
A friend of mine who dispatches at Selkirk says that they have been informed officially that their jobs are being relocated out of state.
I seem to recall CSX trying that consolidation thing once before in a far-off land called Jacksonville, and screwed it up so bad (dispatchers having zero familiarity with the territory was only one of a laundry list of problems) they were ordered to split their dispatching out into different locations closer to the action.

CSX will end up even more screwed up than before; guess that's what happens when the bean counters run the railroad instead of railroaders. . .
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,366
Location
Central Indiana
Yep, CSX consolidated all dispatching at Jacksonville back in the 1990's. After they took on their portion of Conrail, they started spreading things out. I've heard rumors that the new CSX regime will consolidate dispatch centers down to 3 from the current 9 or so.
 

RadioDitch

Expatriate Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
2,473
Location
Union County, NJ / Labrador West, NL
Yep, CSX consolidated all dispatching at Jacksonville back in the 1990's. After they took on their portion of Conrail, they started spreading things out. I've heard rumors that the new CSX regime will consolidate dispatch centers down to 3 from the current 9 or so.
The disbursement of desks to regional offices was also motivated by changing security and technology concerns, so that if one center failed (or worse), another could provide facilities until restoration was complete.

Initial information suggests Florence would host the lions share of desk if consolidation is followed through on.
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,366
Location
Central Indiana
Wasn't CSX's desire to de-centralize away from Jacksonville triggered by a hurricane that touched northeast Florida?

An acquaintance is a dispatcher in the Indianapolis center. She is under the impression that Indianapolis will survive and will absorb Louisville and Chicago. Time will tell.
 

cbehr91

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 22, 2010
Messages
326
CSX will at some point centralize dispatching for the entire system between Indianapolis and Atlanta. Or at least that's what the current regime wants to do.

@W9BU, yes that was exactly CSX's desire to de-centralize Jacksonville, although the former Conrail territories and the Chicago terminal area never got "Jaxed" in the first place.
 

franks_ham

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Aug 1, 2007
Messages
341
Location
Sonoma Co., California
Yes this is only a CSX change, the other railroads are still humping and will for years to come! If not, a few close friends should be informed... ;)

Regards,

-Frank C.
 

RadioDitch

Expatriate Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
2,473
Location
Union County, NJ / Labrador West, NL
Wasn't CSX's desire to de-centralize away from Jacksonville triggered by a hurricane that touched northeast Florida?

An acquaintance is a dispatcher in the Indianapolis center. She is under the impression that Indianapolis will survive and will absorb Louisville and Chicago. Time will tell.
The hurricane was only part of it. They also wanted redundancy for security reasons, not just for Florida getting battered.

The version I heard from Jacksonville was that there'd be three dispatch centers. Indianapolis, Florence, and Atlanta.
 

burner50

The Third Variable
Database Admin
Joined
Dec 24, 2004
Messages
2,105
Location
NC Iowa
It isn't the hump yards that are inefficient, railroads view single car shippers as inefficient because they require switching whereas unit trains don't. So, it really isn't anything to do with the yard or the hump itself (hump switching is far more efficient than flat switching), it's the railroad trying to push out low volume shippers.

There are also more requirements and tests required when not switching solid blocks of cars.
 

DJ11DLN

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Messages
2,061
Location
Mudhole, IN
At the risk of going OT, the "cost-slashing" measures make sense to me now. I don't really follow railroading but I've noticed an increased number of incredibly long trains on the CSX lines around here lately. I'm talking 140+ cars. Yeah, I still count them when I get stopped at a crossing. Trying to cut costs would I suppose tend to account for that. Some of them have seemed a tad bit under-powered.
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,366
Location
Central Indiana
Fewer trains means fewer crews are required. That cuts costs. You get to fewer trains by making trains longer.

Fewer locomotives on trains means fewer locomotives are required in your overall fleet. That cuts costs. That said, today's locomotives produce more horsepower and are somewhat more reliable than yesterday's locomotives. There was a time when an EMD SD40-2 (3,000 HP) was a standard freight locomotive. Today's standard locomotive is a GE or EMD with 4,000 to 4,400 HP. So, a train that used to require three locomotives can now be moved with two.

The north-south CSX line through Terre Haute is a main line between the southeast (Nashville, Atlanta, Jacksonville) and Chicago. Even though that's a single track line (with several long sidings), it carries a lot of traffic.
 
Last edited:

DJ11DLN

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 23, 2013
Messages
2,061
Location
Mudhole, IN
Fewer trains means fewer crews are required. That cuts costs. You get to fewer trains by making trains longer.

Fewer locomotives on trains means fewer locomotives are required in your overall fleet. That cuts costs. That said, today's locomotives produce more horsepower and are somewhat more reliable than yesterday's locomotives. There was a time when an EMD SD40-2 (3,000 HP) was a standard freight locomotive. Today's standard locomotive is a GE or EMD with 4,000 to 4,400 HP. So, a train that used to require three locomotives can now be moved with two.
That's what I was thinking, thanks for the confirmation. I used to see the occasional train with 50-70 cars one one or the other of the lines. I haven't seen anything that "small" in quite awhile.

The north-south CSX line through Terre Haute is a main line between the southeast (Nashville, Atlanta, Jacksonville) and Chicago. Even though that's a single track line (with several long sidings), it carries a lot of traffic.
Definitely a lot more traffic on that one than on the Big 4.

I wonder how the cost-cutting will affect crossing rehab? People around T.H. are always raising Cain over how rough the crossings are...if they get worse I guess I'll get to watch a lot of heads explode when I'm over there. T.H. doesn't really have big-city traffic...but they're trying hard. Nobody wants to slow down for a rough place, or anything else for that matter.:roll:
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,366
Location
Central Indiana
News/rumor is trickling out today that the hump at CSX Avon Yard in Indianapolis will be closing soon and will be replaced with flat switching.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top