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- Federal regulators require the four largest Class I railroads to continue to submit bi-weekly reports on their progress in restoring operations, adding an additional six months to the requirement.
- Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern and BNSF are required to establish new service targets, which they expect to achieve by the end of the next reporting period on May 6, 2023, the Surface Transportation Board said in an Oct. 28 announcement. Carriers are also required to report weekly performance data using advanced service metrics such as first and last mile data.
- The STB said the extension was necessary because all four railroads “are unlikely to meet all of their service improvement targets at the end of the current interim reporting period,” which ends Nov. 6. Recent performance indicators have also confirmed anecdotal reports from shippers of “significant service issues,” the agency said.
That STB said additional monitoring of the country’s rail freight operations is particularly important as shippers enter the fall harvest and Christmas shopping season, and said in its final rule that “the coming months will be a critical time for the four carriers to show resilience.” demonstrate”.
Railroads have made some progress since the worst of the pandemic build-up, with all four major airlines meeting or exceeding some initial service targets in recent weeks. However, overall service levels remain below pre-pandemic averages.
“Widespread service issues continue to impact the network, and the Four Carriers have not even returned service to 2019 levels,” the STB said in its rule.
Service objectives are based on service performance indicators selected by the railroads and include metrics such as terminal dwell time and first and last mile data. The railroads still have to meet the majority of their targets based on their average performance over the past six months, the agency said.
Most rail companies are also lagging behind on their hiring targets as labor restrictions remain one of the biggest obstacles to restoring operations. The STB said only Norfolk Southern had met its targets for train and locomotive service workers.
While Union Pacific said it exceeded its hiring targets by hiring 1,200 transportation workers in September, the agency found discrepancies in the data, noting that the airline was below targets based on its own calculations. Union Pacific and BNSF, which also had discrepancies in their working data, will have to provide more consistent data going forward.
Union Pacific was also the only railroad to have all of its performance indicator averages below pre-pandemic levels, according to the STB. The railroad said in an emailed statement to Supply Chain Dive that the STB calculation for performance and staff does not allow for an “apples-to-apples” comparison, and so on Performance for key metrics “remains consistent and close to our best level since April.”
Union Pacific also said in its statement that it exceeded its hiring targets, despite the STB’s calculations. The railroad said it hired 1,400 new transport workers and the data requested by the STB does not take into account the fact that not every worker was hired on a full-time basis.
“We’ve made real strides to increase network fluidity and better meet customer demand; However, we have been very open that the work is ongoing and we remain focused on crew, locomotive and freight car initiatives,” the railroad said.