Shipping product by rail has become quite a challenge in recent months. Shippers across America are concerned about their products getting delivered on time, and with good reason. CSX is experiencing serious service delays, which in turn have trickled down to many of the other rail providers. The situation has escalated to such a degree that shippers are filing official complaints with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), according to Transport Topics’ August 9, 2017 article.
“We have noticed a big difference over the last month in the customer service, or lack thereof, we’ve received from the railroads,” says Robin Tull, Intermodal Manager at Choptank Transport. “It is very hard to get a hold of anyone, and when you do, there is little confidence that the information they are giving you is completely accurate.”
CSX laid off more than 60 employees the first week of August. In addition to that, they have made some significant operational changes at switching yards that have impacted transit. Making matters worse, CSX has shut down some lane availability, creating even more havoc. “We received a notification last week that 10 frequently used lanes were being cut out, just like that, with no warning or prior notice,” further explained Tull. “We have been telling all of our customers to expect a few extra days on both departure and delivery dates just to be sure.”
Even though there are slow-downs in intermodal and the situation is temporary, there are always alternative modes of transportation for shippers who utilize 3PLs like Choptank Transport. “Rail is my bread and butter, not to mention it's what I love doing, but I feel good about redirecting some of my customers’ freight to truckload when it makes sense, and right now, it makes sense. They rely on me to get their goods to market, and if switching modes is what it takes, then that is what I’ll recommend,” concludes Tull.