According to a recent article in the Jacksonville Business Journal, railroad industry giant CSX Corporation broke its own efficiency records last quarter (After expensive quarter of train accidents, CSX safety concerns return). Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, CSX’s efficiency increases came at the expense of safety.
CSX implemented precision scheduled railroading in 2017, resulting in the termination of over 4,000 employees. Divisional dispatch supervisors, each representing different sections of the country, were replaced by only two people, a western dispatch supervisor and an eastern dispatch supervisor.
These cutbacks have led to a decline in the railroad’s safety performance, according to at least one dispatcher, because the now-overburdened supervisors pass down the work they can’t finish to the already-swamped dispatchers. “I can’t do my job because I’m doing reports and clerical work and answering emails,” the dispatcher said. “The managers and chiefs are so strapped, they’re making us do it.”
CSX argues, however, that the changes it has made were intended to provide an upgrade to railroad safety. “CSX’s recent management reorganization was a strategic decision to improve safety, service, and shareholder value,” said a CSX spokesperson.
But several dispatchers responded that the additional workload was “distracting” and “a safety hazard” preventing them from doing their primary job of monitoring nearly 1,000 miles of track. “In an environment where we are protecting the lives of crews and the public,” one dispatcher said, “there is too much emphasis placed on [clerical work].”
Charles Culver, a railroad operations consultant at Charles L. Culver & Associates, agreed that dispatchers already have more than enough to do without adding additional duties, comparing their importance to that of air traffic controllers. “To eliminate positions and increase the amount that dispatchers are doing is a safety concern in my opinion,” said Culver, who was a railroad engineer and conductor for 25 years. “These railroaders have their lives in the hands of dispatchers.”
According to statistics compiled by the Federal Railroad Administration, accidents involving CSX railroads in the last quarter produced the most monetary damage in at least five years. Despite CXS’s claims to the contrary, once again one of the giants of the railroad industry has sacrificed safety in its never-ending quest for greater profits.
If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is vital that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.