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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Velocity committees help Kansas City Southern's railroads shore up service metrics


Five months ago, Kansas City Southern Railway Co. (KCSR) and Kansas City Southern de México S.A. de C.V. (KCSM) senior managers brought together representatives from the train operations, service design, operations support, customer service, engineering and mechanical departments to form velocity committees. Now, committee members’ efforts to boost train speed and improve network fluidity are paying off.

Between February 1 and June 30, KCSR’s average system velocity increased 24 percent, terminal dwell time decreased 34 percent, car inventory dropped 9 percent and foreign car-cycle time fell 27 percent, while KCSM’s average velocity rose 5.3 percent, dwell time declined 12.6 percent, car inventory decreased 7.6 percent and car cycle time went down 12.7 percent.

At KCSR, each division now follows a customized velocity plan and each train logs a velocity report to monitor speed goals. In addition, the railroad created a director of operating technology position to foster training on distributed power, portable train simulators and fuel-saving technologies; implemented distributed power on manifest trains in the Vicksburg, Meridian, Greenville and (soon) Laredo subdivisions; added longer R&D tracks and utility carmen in Shreveport, La., to expedite train departures; completed sidings; installed Centralized Traffic Control and obtained additional fuel-efficient locomotives.

Meanwhile, KCSM changed southbound blocking processes to improve mainline fluidity and added a customs shift in Nuevo Laredo to reduce switches. The railroad also added a double mainline between Sanchez yard and north Laredo, and extended a siding in Santa Maria. Currently, crews are building a siding in Rinconada and a double mainline between San Luis Potosi and the Interpuerto intermodal facility, and extending sidings in the Lazaro Cardenas corridor and a double mainline in Leal.