Financial Edge, February 2019: One danger of writing for a monthly periodical is that high-profile situations (say the shutdown of the federal government) might begin and end between two issue publication dates. In a word, to tackle the risk of balancing remaining contemporary without becoming dated, one must be “fearless.”
Precision Scheduled Railroading
Watching Washington, February 2019: Sizzle sells product. No wonder the sizzle of ever-lower operating ratios is leading to remarkably higher railroad share prices. But as operating ratios—operating expenses as a percentage of operating revenue—flirt with a sub-60%, the meaning for the longer term is unclear.
I knew Hunter Harrison when he was a Burlington Northern trainmaster and I was a BLET Local Chairman, all those many years ago. Today, as Hunter’s Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) is rolled out on six of the seven Class I railroads, I’ve come to believe that PSRis not a destination, but a never-ending journey. At least that’s how I see it.
Kansas City Southern, joining Class I contemporaries Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX, CN and Canadian Pacific in adopting one form or another of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), has appointed Sameh Fahmy as Executive Vice President PSR, reporting to KCS President and CEO Patrick J. Ottensmeyer.
As it deploys a new operating system, Union Pacific has appointed Jim Vena as Chief Operating Officer, effective Jan. 14. He was a 40-year veteran of CN before retiring in 2016.
Union Pacific reported record 3Q18 financials on Oct. 25, and at the same time confirmed a major restructuring program that, among other provisions, will involve several waves of layoffs beginning in the fourth quarter.
It was a record third quarter for Norfolk Southern Corp., which plans to overhaul its operations and begin to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading in 2019.
The math for North America railroads is simple: A surging economy plus Precision Scheduled Railroading equals record profits.
Union Pacific late on Sep. 17 (following Wall Street close of business) announced a new operating plan, “Unified Plan 2020,” that “implements Precision Scheduled Railroading principles” that were deployed over the past 20-odd years at, in order, Illinois Central, CN, Canadian Pacific and CSX by the late E. Hunter Harrison.
Is CSX emerging from what many observers, including customers, say is an operational and service meltdown created by a “too much, too soon” rush to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading on an arguably complex network? CSX President and CEO E. Hunter Harrison says “yes.”