By Justin Franz
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is telling the nation’s four largest railroads to try again. On Monday, the federal regulator announced that they were directing BNSF Railway, CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific to “correct deficiencies” in their rail service recovery plans that were filed last month.
The STB ordered the railroads to file the service recovery plans after a two-day hearing about the ongoing service crisis. The Class Is blamed their service issues on the supply chain crisis, a tight job market and other factors out of their control. But shippers and labor placed the blame squarely on the cuts made as part of Precision Scheduled Railroading.
The service plans filed last month stated that most of the Class Is were hiring more employees and taking more locomotives out of storage. But the STB said it was unimpressed with what was filed, specifically noting that UP and NS didn’t even provide six-month targets for achieving their service recovery plans.
“We are in the middle of a rail service crisis and the Board continues to receive reports about persistent, acute, and dramatic problems in rail transportation, disrupting critical supply chains and shutting down companies,” wrote Chairman Martin Oberman. “The freight rail industry is currently struggling to provide adequate rail service, yet the service recovery plans we received are woefully deficient and do not comport with the spirit or the letter of the Board’s order.”