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Railroads Slashed Jobs Again in Nov, to Lowest in Many Decades, Traffic Down 17% since 2006, Stocks Soared to Record High

Railroads Slashed Jobs Again in Nov, to Lowest in Many Decades, Traffic Down 17% since 2006, Stocks Soared to Record High

Railroads responded to structural challenges by slashing jobs. Did nothing for volume but did everything for their stocks.

The North American Class 1 freight railroads – BNSF, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX, Canadian National, Kansas City Southern, and Canadian Pacific – have been shedding employees since 2015, and in November they shed another 1.6% of their employees, from October, bringing the total down to 114,960 employees, according to data released by the Surface Transportation Board (STB), an independent federal agency. It was the lowest headcount in many, many decades.

November headcount was down by 13.7% from a year ago, down by 22% from the Great Recession low at the end of 2009 (147,000), and down by 33.5% from the recent high in April 2015 (174,000):

Railroads submit employment data – along with a slew of other operating data – to the STB on a monthly basis. I have excluded Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) because it is not a freight railroad (it too cut headcount).

Back in 1997, which is as far back as the publicly released data by the STB goes, railroads employed 178,000 people. In 1998, railroads employed 180,000. Employment in November was down by 36% from 1998. The chart below shows Class 1 railroad employment in each year in December, except for 2020, when I used November (in recent years, headcounts dropped further from November to December):

Compared to November last year, each of the Class 1 railroads shed employees, in order of the number of remaining employees:

  1. BNSF: -15.6% (35,081)
  2. Union Pacific: -13.4% (32,046)
  3. Norfolk Southern: -15.9% (19,199)
  4. CSX: -9.0% (17,093)
  5. Canadian National: -13.2% (6,183)
  6. Kansas City Southern: -10.1% (2,718)
  7. Canadian Pacific: -9.4% (2,640)

Since September 2016, which is as far as the STB’s monthly data by individual railroad goes back, some railroads have been busier than others shedding employees. All combined have shed 24.6% of their people. Each railroad, in order of the biggest shedders in percentage terms:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil-by-Rail Reality: Watch What Industry Does, Not What They Say

Oil-by-Rail Reality: Watch What Industry Does, Not What They Say

In the past month, there have been numerous public relations efforts suggesting that much is being done to improve oil by rail safety. Unfortunately, it seems these efforts will not involve much more than press releases and hollow promises.”

Those words were first published on DeSmogBlog in March of last year in an article titled Why Nothing Will Happen On Oil by Rail Safety.

In that article, one particular public relations effort was highlighted:

“One of the more popular talking points in the recent PR effort was that BNSF, the railroad that is the largest transporter of oil by rail, had volunteered to buy 5,000 new rail tank cars that exceed any existing safety standard.”

This statement was referring to articles such as the one in the Wall Street Journallast February stating, “BNSF Railway said it plans to buy as many as 5,000 new tank cars to transport crude oil, an unusual move that marks the latest effort by the rail industry to improve safety after a spate of accidents.” Similar articles appeared in Reuters (“Exclusive: BNSF to move into tank car ownership with safer oil fleet”) and CNBC.

It was a clear message. The rail industry was not waiting on new regulations to improve safety and would take steps immediately to make the movement of oil by rail safer. Tough to argue with that, right?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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