Railcar demand appears to be holding up at the modest levels seen in second-quarter 2019, “despite continued rail traffic declines and ongoing PSR implementation,” according to a Cowen and Company’s third-quarter shipper survey. “Barring a recession, orders are unlikely to fall below replacement demand of about 10,000-12,000 units/quarter for the balance of the year.”
Out of a remote location in a corner of New England comes an interesting operations research view of what Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) is, and is not. Peter Swan, a Ph.D rail and logistics expert from the Penn State School of Business Administration, spoke Oct. 3 at the NEARS (Northeast Association of Rail Shippers) Fall 2019 Conference in Burlington, Vt.
RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE – For rail customers, Precision Scheduled Railroading is a mixed blessing. At a North East Association of Rail Shippers (NEARS) conference earlier this year, PSR’s promises and perils took center stage.
Six out of the seven Class I freight railroads in operating in the U.S. (including CN’s and Canadian Pacific’s subsidiaries) have implemented or are in the process of transitioning to Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR). While programs and processes will certainly vary from one railroad to another, all are likely designed around five foundation principles, as defined in 2016 by CP and the late Hunter Harrison during its aborted merger attempt with Norfolk Southern.
Much is being made in the railroad industry and transportation media about the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) wildfire sweeping from coast to coast. Proponents of PSR will tell you that it will prove to be the industry’s savior. But it also begs the following question: Just what does the industry need to be saved from?
RAIL EQUIPMENT FINANCE 2019, LA QUINTA, CALIF, March 5: BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose, nearing retirement, shared his views on the rail industry with Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono and more than 400 attendees at Railroad Financial Corporation’s annual conference, organized by RFC President and Railway Age Financial Editor David Nahass and his staff. Rose talked extensively about Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), business growth, advanced technology and other topics.
Not that long ago, E. Hunter Harrison’s methods and strategy for CSX were subject to close scrutiny, tough questioning, much doubt, some head scratching (close 8 of 12 hump yards, anyone?), customers complaining, labor opposition and STB inquiries. All of that and more was in response to Hunter’s trademarked program of “Precision Scheduled Railroading.”
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.”
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.