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To speed decision-making and improve work processes, NYCT President Howard Roberts Jr. late last year launched an effort to decentralize the agency’s “stovepipe” organizational structure, as Managing Editor Jeff Stagl notes in this month’s cover story. The (re)thinking there: NYCT, the world’s second-largest subway system, will be a better service provider once the agency installs general managers to oversee each of the system’s 26 lines.
Of course, tearing down silos and driving down decision-making represent only a first step toward becoming a better service provider. It takes time to nurture a customer-oriented culture. From managers minding the top line to employees toiling on the front one, everybody has to buy in. Everybody has to be given the time and (when and where needed) resources so they can buy in. There can be no presumptions about who believes, who’s on the same page — or, even, if people are speaking the same language. Just ask Lorenzo Reyes Retana. The chief operations officer of Ferrocarril Mexicano S.A. de C.V. (Ferromex) remembers when “customer focus” wasn’t even part of the freight-hauling conversation at his railroad, where he’s served since its 1998 inception after spending 10 years with Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM), the government-run predecessor.
“At FNM, it was hard to identify what the work even was about — we were not clear that this was a transportation company,” Retana says. “It sounds alarming, but it was like that.”
It isn’t anymore. After spending the past decade navigating the long and winding privatization road, and striving to inculcate a customer-first mentality railway-wide, Ferromex is on the continuous-improvement course to stay, Retana told me last month (see article).
The folks at Ferromex know they’ll never quite reach their ultimate destination. There are no absolutes in continuous-improvement country. The journey’s the thing. Have a good trip, Mssrs. Roberts, Retana, and each and every one of your service-provider colleagues. We hope it’s a long, long, long one.
The 14th annual Wheel/Rail Interaction ’08 will be held May 6-7, 2008, at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare. Produced by Advanced Rail Management Corp. and Interface Journal, and presented by Progressive Railroading, the seminar is devoted to examining wheel/rail, vehicle/track interaction on rail-freight and shared-track passenger systems.
The aim of this seminar? To bring together track and mechanical users, researchers and suppliers to foster a better understanding of the complex interaction at the wheel/rail interface. There’s a complete seminar schedule online. For additional information, call Brandon Koenig at 847-808-1818.
Also: The seminar producers will conduct a “Principles of Wheel/Rail Interaction” course May 5. The full-day course offers an in-depth examination of the primary aspects of wheel/rail and vehicle/track interaction. Drawing from both theory and practical application, the course will cover contact mechanics, vehicle suspension, wheelset curving, track geometry, friction management, wheel/rail profiles and more. (Note: Seminar attendance is not required to attend the “Principles” course.)
Progressive Railroading will be giving away two “scholarships” — essentially, passes to both the Wheel/Rail Interaction Seminar and the “Principles of Wheel/Rail Interaction” course. Interested? Apply online. The deadline for entries is March 31.
Mark it down: The Progressive Railroading staff and independent transportation analyst/consultant Tony Hatch will present the fourth annual RailTrends conference. The two-day summit will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Affinia Manhattan Hotel in New York City.
RailTrends 2008 will provide a comprehensive overview of the rail industry and detailed, critical insight on leasing and finance issues from industry experts, analysts and investors. The summit is designed for railroaders, suppliers, equipment lessors, financiers, shippers — anyone, really, who has an interest and/or stake in the industry’s growth.
For more information on RailTrends 2008, contact Progressive Railroading Publisher Steve Bolte by phone at 561-743-7373 or via email, or log onto RAILTRENDS.