Enabling Warfighter Readiness: Keys to Success
Daniel Labyak, Manager of Clearance Bureau, CSX, presented “Enabling Warfighter Readiness: Keys to Success” during Transportation Academy held in conjunction with the NDTA-USTRANSCOM Fall Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. His presentation was made as part of the Rail Industry Update class on October 8, 2019.
CSX and others participated in a speed of war exercise with the military, which entailed deploying a brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, to the Port of Jacksonville, Florida. The scope of the exercise was impressive, with nearly 600 railcars and over 2,000 pieces of equipment moved.
Labyak detailed four keys to success in the exercise that enabled warfighter readiness: Interchange, Line of Road Bandwidth, Communication, and Teamwork.
Having a good handoff between the partners working on this exercise was critical and played a major roll in how interchange sites were chosen. Physically the locations were selected for their ability to handle the cargo and to reduce the potential for delays.
Timing was an essential element of these handoffs. Each partner needed to be prepared to take the handoff when the time came. This meant tracking where cargo was in its journey and having crews prepared. It was important to call crews at the right time to ensure they would not arrive too early and waste time that would count toward their hours of service.
Inspections were needed at each interchange to ensure that the loads were safe to continue traversing over the railroad. Thought also had to be given to outbound clearance due to the size of the loads.
Line of Road Bandwidth
“When I say bandwidth, I’m talking about the capacity of our primary and alternate routes both from a physical and a variable time constraint,” explained Labyak.
CSX did an updated laser survey and reanalyzed the railroad’s fixed and passing restrictions to reduce limitations. It also right-sized its crew bases at each location. Considerations were also made for line density and busch to port.
Each entity involved had their own definitions and ways of communicating. A communication format and frequency that allow each entity to receive and transmit vital information to be good partners in this exercise was necessary. This allowed parties not just to communicate but to communicate effectively.
CSX looked at how to leverage technology to help improve and standardize communication, which resulted in it rolling out a technology, available to all stakeholders, that provided real-time tracking and monitoring of trains designated for this exercise.
The exercise took a tremendous amount of teamwork between the various stakeholders. CSX had to work with the ports and its customers to find ways to continue to meet its commercial commitments while supporting the speed of war exercise. It had to work with the military on gate access.
The ultimate goal was to turn the tracks. Partnering with the military, stevedores, and technical assistance team through face-to-face and regular operations meetings was crucial to planning and meeting their goals.