Even “Fitter” for Purpose
By Sergio Sabatini, Chief Operating Officer
At the base of all railroad operations are the tracks and the trains. Nothing is transported without either. So railroad companies spend a lot of time, resources and effort making sure both the trains and the tracks are in a safe condition for the movement of the products to their destinations.
The operational focus of maintaining the tracks and the trains at rail companies is on safety and efficiency. Safety means having a culture that has every member of the team, from the crew on the trains to the workers in the depots and on the lines to the back office support, thinking about getting everyone home in the same condition as when they arrived at work. It means training and practicing to ensure any accidents are prevented or at least minimized, and that we all have each other’s back.
Efficiency means getting the right cars on the right trains to the right places at the right times. It means making smart business decisions to ensure that assets are used to their maximum advantage. While the utilization of rolling stock and track infrastructure differs widely, truly efficient utilization requires proper planning to ensure that freight trains are always operated at or near capacity. Efficiency also means better personnel allocation and having incentives designed to promote better performance. Perhaps most dramatically, efficiency investments in technology that significantly reduce overhead and personnel costs, as well as improve logistics management, safety, and customer satisfaction. Rail companies like OmniTRAX are investing in predictive systems to ensure our locomotives are always in good working order, and track-bed portable non-destructive testing equipment to prevent accidents before they happen. At OmniTRAX, we are devoting substantial resources to safety and efficiency. While we all love new technology, the use of it at OmniTRAX will enable us to push efficiency to new levels, giving us a further competitive edge over other shortline companies.
We are well on our way to implementing positive train control at the Chicago Rail Link and Illinois Railway, and are using the latest technology to increase customer service and decrease track and train issues. We are also partnering with all of the Class I railroads to optimize the safe transfer of cars at interchanges.
We have come a long way in the last 5 years. Our “Operating Excellence” focus on service, cost control, asset utilization, safety and people has brought us much success. We have drastically lowered our operating ratio, improved service, reinvested in safety while increasing the value of the enterprise.
You may ask “How do the next 5 years look”? We will continue to safely drive for results. Railroading is equivalent to “an outdoor sport”. Safety and our people must come first. I promise they will. We are the leaders in the shortline space when it comes to safety. No other company can come close to our performance. We focus on the small things when it comes to running the business. We don’t need homeruns every day, but we do need singles, doubles and triples. They add up. We will have each other’s backs and take the time to do our job safely each and every day.
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In the next blog post, General Counsel Andy Engeman will share his thoughts on handling a crisis and improving your reputation.