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In the face of declining business, CSX consolidation impacts WNY rail yard

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CSX Transportation
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Approximately 116 CSX Transportation employees across the country are facing the impact of "streamlining” of company operations. Two of them are Western New York Residents.

CSX mechanical facilities across the country handle the maintenance and inspections of locomotives and rail cars. The Jacksonville, Florida-based company recently announced that 16 of those locations – including the car shop in Kenmore’s rail yard – aren’t seeing enough business to warrant staying open.

CSX Spokesperson Melanie Cost said the company does not share the exact number of cars passing through the yard, but did say that “the volume of the cars coming through the Kenmore shop has declined to a point where [CSX] needed to streamline those operations and, unfortunately, furlough a couple of employees.”

CSX’s human resources department is working with the two mechanical employees in Kenmore to find other opportunities at locations with “higher demand.” The car shop itself will cease operations, while the yard and its other employees remain active.

“We’re going through a transition period right now to make sure that we maintain the same high levels of safety and service that we always deliver to our customers and to the communities that we serve, so this will be a transition that takes place over the next several months,” said Cost.

The cause of the “streamlining” is likely part of an overall decline in national business for CSX over the past few years.

“We did see about a $1.4 billion decline in our coal business over the past four years and we are starting to see some declines in our other markets, related to low global commodity prices and the strong U.S. Dollar,” said Cost.

According to Cost, the company is looking “holistically” at its entire network to match resources to business demand. Mechanical operations haven’t been the only section to see consolidation. CSX announced in mid-January that its Huntington, West Virginia administrative offices would be closed and its employees would be reassigned to divisions in Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, Kentucky and the Great Lakes region.

Despite the bigger picture, Cost said operations across New York remain steady.

“The entire state of New York is a very high volume area for CSX. We’re looking specifically with this decision at the car shops. So it’s related more to the volume of repairs and inspections that are needed to be done at that location.”

CSX released this statement regarding the nationwide “streamlining” of mechanical operations:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – February 12, 2016 – As part of CSX’s (Nasdaq: CSX) ongoing commitment to driving network improvement and resource efficiency to match demand, the company is streamlining operations at 16 lower-volume mechanical facilities. 

Operations will be reduced at car shops in Montgomery, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; Baldwin, Florida; Evansville and Indianapolis, Indiana; New Orleans, Louisiana; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wilmington, North Carolina; Kenmore, New York; Ashtabula, Ohio; Erie and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Florence, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Huntington, West Virginia. 

The streamlining is designed to better coordinate shop activities across the CSX network while maintaining inspection and maintenance performance levels. These changes will impact approximately 116 CSX mechanical employees, some of whom will be given opportunities to fill positions in other higher-demand areas of the network. CSX human resources personnel are working directly with affected employees to identify possible opportunities and assist in the transition.

Train operations through the affected areas will continue as normal, and CSX will continue to deliver the high level of safety and service that customers and communities expect.