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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / CSX Transportation preparing to re-open hump at Radnor Yard in Nashville NEWSWIRE

CSX Transportation preparing to re-open hump at Radnor Yard in Nashville NEWSWIRE

By Bill Stephens | June 29, 2018

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CSX Corp.
Radnor Yard
CSX Corp.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — CSX Transportation will reopen the hump at Nashville’s Radnor Yard within the next few weeks.

The hump was idled in July 2017 as part of the broad operational changes made by then-CEO E. Hunter Harrison, who converted eight of CSX’s 12 hump yards to flat-switching facilities last year.

Flat-switching proved cumbersome at the former Louisville & Nashville yard, so preparation work is now under way to resume hump operations. The railroad did not have a firm date for reopening the hump, but said it would hinge on completing necessary maintenance of retarders and other infrastructure at the yard.

“The principles of scheduled railroading are based on the premise that we continuously seek opportunities to optimize the network and enhance customer service. Given the footprint complexities of flat switching at Radnor Yard in Nashville, we will improve network fluidity, optimize train starts, dramatically reduce out-of-route train miles and switching costs by reopening the hump,” a CSX spokesman says.

In 2016, Radnor was CSX’s third-busiest hump – behind only Waycross, Ga., and Selkirk, N.Y. — as it classified an average of 1,477 cars per day. That’s within the range that Harrison said was sufficient volume to justify the operating costs and capital expense of a hump yard.

But classification volumes fluctuated systemwide as CSX changed its operating plan to minimize the number of times cars are handled en route. Radnor remains among CSX’s top 10 terminals in terms of volume. The railroad would not disclose current volume levels.

When the hump reopens, CSX expects to boost employment at Radnor by 40 to 50 people. Operating plan changes related to reopening the hump will reduce the number of employees at some other yards across the system, so there will not be a net increase in yard employees overall.

“As we continue to refine the operating plan in Nashville and throughout our network, we will identify opportunities to rationalize existing yards and other infrastructure. This will allow us to continue to eliminate unnecessary steps and drive improved service,” a CSX spokesman says.

During the first three weeks of June, dwell at Radnor averaged 29.1 hours, according to reports CSX filed with the Surface Transportation Board using standard Association of American Railroads performance metrics. Dwell was well within normal ranges at the yard, although it was above the systemwide average of 20.2 hours.

Radnor will be the second reversal of a hump closure at CSX.

The hump was idled at Avon Yard outside Indianapolis in early August, then reopened by the end of the month as CSX experienced widespread congestion and service problems due to the rapid rollout of Harrison’s Precision Scheduled Railroading operating model.

CSX executives have said they expect the railroad to set service-measurement records for the second quarter, which ends June 30.

Norfolk Southern, CSX’s eastern rival, also is backtracking on hump closures. Last month, NS reopened the hump at Debutts Yard in Chattanooga, Tenn., as it works to ease congestion amid rising traffic volumes on the southern part of its network.

NS said Debutts would be a “hybrid hump” that would classify traffic for local customers, while part of the classification bowl would still serve as a block-swapping facility for through trains, in line with operating plan changes made when the hump was shut down in May 2017.

NS officials have said resuming hump operations in Chattanooga would help improve overall network resilience and capacity

24 thoughts on “CSX Transportation preparing to re-open hump at Radnor Yard in Nashville NEWSWIRE

  1. So maybe hump yards are less a drain on shareholders than the bean counter thought. Customer service costs money. Having great customer service makes you more money than it costs. Saving the money you spend on great customer service as a short-term, boost-the-short-term-profits-to-make-a-bigger-bonus loses you money long term, and perhaps the entire business. I guess that’s OK so long as about 1,000 people make an absolute killing while doing it…

  2. The typical hump yard is poorly designed for efficient flat switching without significant changes.

  3. Just pound a stake through it. Some of us believe that a railroad exists to serve its customers. EHH got a huge salary plus an $84 million spiff because he believed just the opposite.

  4. How wonderful that they’re back-tracking at Radnor. What CSX is doing to Georgia is the reason why.

    Trains Magazine being the preeminent periodical of the railroad industry and enthusiasts thereof has completely missed the train about what is happening with CSX in Atlanta, GA. It is very much indeed newsworthy!

    Harrison, now Foote and his ilk announced that they were going to idle the Tilford Yard hump and use the hump bowl yard for flat switching. I’m pretty sure that they never revealed that they were going to rip out the entirety of the rest of the yard leaving only a single track leading to the engine terminal. The W&A double track main line remains, but this has turned Atlanta into, as a friend says, “a slow rolling disaster”.

    The W&A Sub is owned by the State of Georgia and CSX pays rent to the state to use it. Apparently, paying rent for this property is considered by CSX’ current administration as being on the red ink side of the books and has to go!.

    Traffic on the railroad between Nashville and Manchester, Ga via Chattanooga and Atlanta has already been drastically reduced by re-routing it over their line to Manchester via Decatur, Birmingham, Talladega and LaGrange. Apparently, they’re jumping on “CNing” CSX between Chicago and Florida by turning it into a single track main like they did Illinois Central.

    The next big impact on Atlanta is going to be the closure of Hulsey Intermodal Yard as CSX is expanding capacity at Fairburn Yard south of the city on the A&WP Sub to compensate. This leaves in question the future of the line between Nashville and Atlanta, the northern portion of the A&WP between Fairburn and East Point, the Georgia Road Sub, the K&A Sub north from Cartersville and, last but not least, the former ACL line from Tilford to Manchester and it’s tunnel under NS’ Inman Yard.

    The times they are a changing in Atlanta railroad-wise, but it’s almost more than most local railfans can keep up with. There’s a lot of depressed people down here to be sure!

  5. That was truly a mish mash of warm and fuzzy Corporate speak (makes it sound better I guess ) when they could have just summarized it in three words: We “messed” (rather than typing the word I want to) up.

  6. I think this is healthy given the constraints of short term “shareholder uber alles” on one hand and labor agreement status quo on the other.

    Yes Radnor (and DeButts) given their network locations come close to justifying hump yard classification volumes. But the industry is correct to (belatedly) rethink the carload network and “block for the destination terminal” and block swap over classify service plans. Because carload, particularly with increasing transload and reintegration of “unit” cuts ain’t dead yet and might be able to eke some share growth in commodities, especially if some manufacturing reshores to North America. And as some point out this isn’t an EHH exclusive but he sure marketed it as his and sold Wall Street on it (a mixed but not entirely bad outcome) and so NS and everyone else is going overboard to emulate.

    But hump yards can be service black holes too if your cars have to visit too of them many between origin and destination. I see these two reopenings (and DeButts is a “limited”’ reopening after all), as well as the UP Hearne project and NS Moorman Yard as part of the new balance. Fail fast is a good method to find radical improvement, same as Avon’s reopening was. I expect both of those latter new yards will result in older expensive-to-operate humps being replaced. But you need some hump yards at strategic locations. Even “fully precision” CN and CP have a few (and don’t need many with their simpler networks).

    As for Tilford, well I don’t dismiss the W&A sub “conspiracy theory” out of hand, if traffic is way down Nashville-Chattanooga-Atlanta that’s an interesting data point. But I always regarded the Tilford closing as a “best use” real estate arbitrage play. And when was the last time any CSX heritage route Chicago-Florida was 2MT? They do need to raise the Tilford capital to extend those sidings and yard leads though (and probably better via Manchester than slow running Atlanta terminal).

    No, what I’m worried about isn’t the carload network. It’s where the capital is going to come from to properly take advantage of the Intermodal opportunity. Where yes Atlanta is a key node. Instead of nibbling around the edges of a dominant trucking market share.

  7. Having viewed and listening to Radnor’s operations, plus the fact that 5 mainline routes fed into the yard, it was obvious that Radnor was an important part of CSX, just as it was an operating hub for Louisville & Nashville. It took a year to finally recognize the shutdown mistake, all the while customer service was downgraded. Next time, let’s get the medical report on the leader before we allow them to take the reins. I sold my stock when EHH was announced to take over. What a disaster! Hulcher was in C yard this morning with sidebooms handling some sort of derailment while long lines of parked cars stood with no power or crews in sight. Precision disaster! Please bring Michael Ward back. He ran a good railroad.

  8. JIM News wire and Rochelle cam are poorly received here.Choppy pictures Real bad.4 weeks now.TrainsMag digital is so lousy!!!TIME for me to subscribe to RailAge.They still report news in a professional manor.Will not renew Trains this time after many years PRP

  9. P Pettingell….Possibly your computer needs a Java update, or if you are not operation windows 10, an upgrade there may help also. The Rochelle video cam started doing that on my screen for a few days, last month. I went into my java file, and found out there was an upgrade. i installed it, and the problem went away. May not fix your problem, but what could it hurt to try? Also, I keep my cashe/browsing data cleared weekly. This keeps the browser running like a swiss watch.

  10. I think the UP would beg to differ on the hump yard issue…i.e., Brazos is adding another hump to the dozen plus already existing on the UP system.

  11. Watch and see whether Englewood or Davidson comtinue to be hump yards after Hearne comes on line. I’d bet on both being converted to flat switching.

  12. If Hunter was still alive none of those humps would have reopened and instead he would have blamed delays and congestion on uncooperative employees.

  13. @RICHARD SHIVIK – I for one hope that CSX sells off the line between Chattanooga and Cartersville, or even all the way to Atlanta. It would make a great secondary line for NS, so they could quit double tracking the AND and have one for northbound traffic and one for south bound. Barring that, Gennessee would be a perfect operator for the few industries that remain along the WA.

  14. It appears the “Precision Railroading’ concept has not worked as well on CSX, as it did on CN & CP. Shorter route line hauls on CSX, different network, different business mix, etc.

    Amusing ‘punchline’ comment from Mr. Woodworth below. Thanks.

  15. For CSX, customer service is an after thought. For CSX and railroads in general, there is always manipulation of the railroad route structure and schuduling to provide minimal service to the level the shipping community will still pay for such.

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