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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / As stopgap to relieve crew shortages, CSX seeks transfers to Water Level Route terminals

As stopgap to relieve crew shortages, CSX seeks transfers to Water Level Route terminals

By Bill Stephens | September 19, 2022

Temporary transfers to terminals in New York, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia eligible for bonuses

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Intermodal train with two blue and yellow locomotives at grade crossing
Intermodal train with two blue and yellow locomotives at grade crossing
A westbound CSX intermodal train rolls through Lyons, N.Y., on the former New York Central Water Level route. CSX is short of crews across New York state. Bob Johnston

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — CSX Transportation expected train crew availability to improve at its Selkirk, N.Y., hub after Labor Day as the summer vacation season wound down.

But it appears crew shortages at Selkirk and elsewhere on the former Water Level Route across New York are getting worse, not better.

In system notices sent last week, CSX said it was seeking train and engine crews to temporarily transfer to Buffalo, Syracuse, and Selkirk, N.Y., as well as West Springfield, Mass., and Philadelphia. Train service employees who agree to the six-month transfers will receive $5,000 once they qualify on their new territory, plus a $17,500 bonus after six months.

The Sept. 15 notices did not specify how many vacancies CSX sought to fill at each location. A railroad spokeswoman declined to comment. Twenty train and engine crews had already transferred to Selkirk this month, according to letters CSX executives sent to the Surface Transportation Board.

Temporary transfers are not uncommon. The big four U.S. systems — BNSF Railway, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific — have all used temporary transfers to alleviate ongoing crew shortages at their most severely affected terminals.

CSX continues to hire and is offering $5,000 bonuses for new conductors in Buffalo, Syracuse, Selkirk, and West Springfield, according to job postings on the railroad’s website.

The railroad says seven newly hired conductors are training in Selkirk, with three more in classroom training, and 17 additional people scheduled to begin conductor classes soon. Union officials and CSX personnel say train crews continue to quit in Selkirk, however, with several leaving this month.

Terminal dwell at Selkirk declined to 36.8 hours in the week ending Sept. 9, down from 50.7 hours in the prior week. The week ending Sept. 9 included the Labor Day holiday, when traffic typically declines and railroads can clear backlogged traffic. The average dwell at the hump yard was 47.65 hours for August, compared to 21.6 hours in August 2021.

CSX had 280 people enter conductor training in August, with a total of 562 in training last month, according to data the railroad reported to the STB. Seventy-nine conductors completed training last month, but 39 dropped out and 61 train and engine employees in active service resigned in August.

Overall, the number of active train and engine employees rose in August to 6,763, up from 6,711 at the end of July.

19 thoughts on “As stopgap to relieve crew shortages, CSX seeks transfers to Water Level Route terminals

  1. The number of employees dropping out of training and resigning from positions is quite substantial. It looks as though there is a very long way to go before the T and E employee numbers are sufficient to address shortages. 79 completed versus 101 leaving.

  2. There are no Engine service bulletins offering temporary transfer. This would be exceeding rare in any case. They could post later perhaps but I see only trainman’s positions.

  3. Perhaps states with these problems should transition some of their unemployed people to these jobs with a take or lose unemployment option. There are still quite a few people on unemployment…it really should be, if there’s any jobs available you’re physically and mentally capable of doing, then you MUST apply for them and accept them if offered the job, or your unemployment benefits will be halted.

    1. Okay but who takes care of the children if there are any? Do you propose we also provide free or reduced childcare?

    2. Gerald, you present a way forward for lower-skilled jobs. I agree. You want to eat, then you work — retail, hospitality, day care, office cleaning. It won’t help to fill highly skilled jobs like railroading.

  4. Nothing to see here folks keep on going. The class ones will tell the general public this very same junk yet all along they’re all falling apart. Like I’ve said all along their employment problems they’re having right now are just the tip of the iceberg and they will persist indefinitely until they address real work life balance that I’m not so sure this new contract proposal even touches or at least addresses. The going consensus among us rails so far is a big no on the contract, although I’m keeping an open mind until I read the guts of it. We shall see soon.

    1. ERIC – To your post I would add the following: If, even if, the contracts are ratified, only the current work force has a “yes” vote. The future work force has already voted “no”. They want nothing to do with these working conditions.

  5. Meanwhile the railroads still push for one man crews so I guess the new trainees will be roving pickup truck drivers.

  6. Gerald. I generally agree that one collecting benefits should be doing something constructive to get off those benefits. But forcing someone into a railroad job is a disaster in the making.

  7. the sad part of this is, thats its more a result of PSR and the love of Wall st that brought all of this on and not so much the pandemic.

  8. Just saying. What if airlines started putting folding chairs in isles. More passengers, more revenue. After all bottom line is, revenue, this is what it’s all about, right?

    No FAA would cite many reasons. But IF PSR creates so many issues verses O/R uptick, why not STB step in like the FAA. Up side would see the need for more T/E and this lay off, retrain, yo-yo MIGHT be lessened.
    Our whole town was blocked yesterday by a very lengthy train. Several hours. Fortunately we have one overpass.
    If I understand PSR,I can see it’s up side, but, what about PSR-lite?

    1. Mr Woodside, back a while ago Airbus filed a patent on passenger fittings that left the passenger standing during the flight, with restraints for “seatbelts”.
      The idea was for short flights have the passengers standing up instead of taking valuable space sitting down.
      Does anybody think Richard Anderson would have bought for Delta?

  9. The industry has been hijacked by execs and board of directors who scrape and bow to Wall St. They no longer care about the long-term viability of railroads. To them, it’s just another industry to suck as much profit from while they can while cutting and squeezing the employees for every ounce of productivity. Hunter Harrison and his PSR was a disaster for railroading. The unions should strike if they don’t get what they want, and if service doesn’t improve the feds should force the companies to provide better service or threaten nationalization. The industry is a disgrace. Railroading used to be a growth industry back in the 1990’s. No more.

  10. Reading a book about the fall of Enron. All about greed, bonuses, ego, executive compensation plans. Started on the 50th floor and worked down to about the 45th. Even corrupted the Big 5 accounting firms.

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