Track & Trace Railcar Shipments with ShipCSX
This article has been updated on 1/27/2017 to reflect the latest updates to ShipCSX
CSX Transportation is one Class I railroad that provides web-based tools for rail shippers and receivers to track their shipments. They package their railcar tracking tools into what is called ShipCSX. You can plan a shipment, get pricing, bill a shipment and pay for a shipment here, but this article focuses on the Trace – Shipment Management Suite section. If you have been thinking about using ShipCSX rail shipment tracing tools or you have been using just a small part of it and would like to learn more about what it can do, please read on.
If you want to play with the functionality while reading this article, go to ShipCSX, then click on the Trace > Shipment Management Suite menu.
Copy and paste a list of railcars to track and trace
From the Shipment Management Suite page, click on the Railcar Tracking menu. You can paste up to 2,500 railcars for an Equipment List report. If you save the report, the equipment list can be referenced for use in other reports too. Record formats can be set to all NITL standard CLM (car location message) formats plus a few CSXT proprietary formats. Output type can be set to HTML, Text (fixed length), Comma Separated Values (CSV). Most record formats provide only a single character sighting event code; if you click on that code when the initial results are returned on the web page, a small pop-up window will display the description of that event. For record formats like the H – NITL ETA format, an ETA Type single character code is included, which indicates the event for the ETA (usually J – Interchange Delivery or Z – Placement Actual); when you click on it, a description will display as well. If a Shipment Problem Resolution inquiry is has been created on a railcar, an icon will be displayed next to it when viewing tracking results with most of the tools mentioned in this article.
NOTE: It is a nice option to be able to export data to a NITL standard CLM format since most third party rail shipment tracking systems use these formats. However, when choosing the NITL H (ETA) format with the output type set to Text (fixed length), I noticed that the record was not formed correctly, with a slash between the month and day. This would prevent a system from importing the file. I checked the NITL D format and it was correctly formed. These two formats are very popular and should be supported by most systems, so I recommend using the NITL D format until the NITL H format can be corrected. CSXT is currently investigating this issue when this article was first published.
Display historical railcar movements on other railroads
For Equipment List reports, you may choose to see the last reported event on all railroads, the last cycle up to the last reported event including all railroads, the last CSXT cycle (all events that happened on CSXT that were part of the latest trip), and the last 8 events on CSXT.
The Historical Equipment Trace (from the Shipment Management Suite page, click on the Historical Trace menu) can go back as far as 13 months. It will retrieve 30 days of history per request from the Start Date that is entered. You can only run this one railcar at a time as well. If you needed to get the entire 13 months of history, you would need to enter a Start Date of the first day of 13 months ago. For example, today is 3/24/2016; for the first trace, enter a Start Date of 3/1/2015. The click the Next 30 days link for each following month. Your company must be one of the following parties on the waybill in order to use this tool: shipper, consignee, care of party, payer of freight.
There is an option to show records in CSXT’s ETA Format as well as the NITL H and I formats. These estimates will be for when the railcar is expected to reach either interchange with another railroad or the final destination, whichever comes first.
There is a Pipeline report (from the Shipment Management Suite, click on the Pipeline & Jeopardy Reports menu) that shows the number of railcars, inbound or outbound, projected to arrive over the next 5 weeks (1 week per screen). You can drill down on a particular day to show the individual railcar numbers and its progress in its trip. It is important to note that this report will only show ETAs for CSXT. For example, you would only see railcar ETAs to where CSXT delivers the railcar interchange to another railroad or to final destination only if CSXT is the delivering carrier.
If you are served directly by CSXT, you can set up an email or text notification of when the local train conductor has an ETA for when your inbound shipments will be placed at your industry. To access this feature, click the Ship > Notifications & Subscriptions menu.
If you require consistent ETAs to final destination that are provided from the beginning of the shipment all the way to the reaching the customer, you may want to consider a 3rd party rail shipment tracking system. This article discusses the types of features you can expect from these types of systems. This article discusses the cost of such systems. The sponsor of this Learning Center offers such a system and you can find out about it here.
There is a Remaining Schedule option that will show the expected future station arrivals, departures until reaching the destination or interchange. It is accessed from the Results page of an equipment trace. There is a drop down list box, click on the down arrow and select “Remaining Schedule” from the list of options.
You can enter a train symbol in the Train Trace section on the Railcar Tracking menu page. You may also see unit trains that will be used to fulfill your order in the Plan > Unit Train Management section. Click on the “View your unit train reservations” hyperlink or click the Shipment Pipeline menu. Once the train is loaded and moving, you can see the movement history of the train by: Go to Shipment Pipeline; Retrieve your location; Select any train ID hyperlink; Within the train trace pop-up, click Show More Events hyperlink. Train movement history can be seen with the Train Trace feature as well.
From the Shipment Management Suite page, click on the Custom Reports menu. You can filter the reports by:
- Customer Location (CIF), Customer Type (shipper, consignee, freight payer, Rule 11 freight payer, care of, pick up),
- Load / Empty Status,
- Origin / Destination,
- Current Location,
- Billing: Bill of Lading Number (1 or many), BOL Date (range), Purchase Order (1 or many)
- Equipment: Equipment Numbers, Equipment Lists, Car Order Types, AAR Car Types, Pool Codes (assigned to Customer Location(s))
- Events: Event Types and Special Handling
- ETA: Early (by X hours), Late (by X hours)
- Elapsed Time Since Last Event
Fields can be chosen from about 100 total that will display on the report. These field combinations can be saved as a View. You can also save up to 3 sorts for each view. This view can then be summoned for use on future custom reports.
You can choose to display the report on the Screen, Email or Download. The Output Type can be HTML, Text, or Comma Separated Values (CSV).
There is a special kind of custom report called Event Notification. It has similar filtering, layout and delivery options, but it targeted to show railcars that have experienced specific events such as Bad Ordered, Constructively Placed, Placed in Hold Status, etc. You can configure it to only deliver an email if there are records on the report.
Automated Delivery of Reports
Only Custom Reports may be scheduled. Days of the week may be chosen as well as time of day (up to 6 times per day). Delivery can be to 1 or more email addresses. Schedules expire in up to 500 days, which may be renewed at end of range.
Custom Reports and Equipment List reports include options to show the results on a map. Once the map opens, you can filter the results further by load/empty status, origin, destination, hazmat (yes/no), TIH/PIH (yes/no), high/wide (yes/no), exception (yes/no), STCC. You may also zoom in and out. Loads are shown as blue dots and empties shown as yellow dots. If there are many railcars at the same location, the dot increases in size. If there are load and empty railcars at the same location (or in the same train), the dot is blue and yellow. Can view railcars on all railroads in North America. However, I had a situation where I could see one railcar on the BNSF, but another that was in the next state on BNSF, did not show on the map. There was no indication why or any error indicating that my data is incomplete.
Transit Times & Dwell Times
There is a separate Help document specifically for this feature. After clicking the Transit Times menu, click the Transit Times User’s Guide link on the upper right corner of the page. It is 100 pages. Let me try to give you the important highlights. Reports may be run for 1 month or 1 quarter at a time up to 1 year in the past. You can benefit from this feature only if your company is the shipper or consignee for the shipments. The measures show the time that the railcar was on CSXT only.
Waybill Transit measures the transit from when the railcar was either waybill released or received at interchange from another railroad to placement at industry or interchange delivery to another railroad. You can compare the results against Waybill Standard, which is the average waybill transit time over the last 90 days (excluding the current month). The results may also be compared with Waybill Schedule, which is the average original trip plan for all completed shipments over the last 90 days (excluding the current month).
Event Transit measures from when the railcar was pulled from the customer’s industry by CSXT or when CSXT receives the railcar in interchange to a terminating event such as placement at industry or delivered at interchange with another railroad. You can compare the results against Event Standard, which is the average transit time over the last 90 days (excluding the current month).
Various dwell times can be shown such as Release to Pull, CP to Order, Order to Placement. Once you display the Transit Summary report, there will be a button on the upper right corner of the report that says Dwell View. It is a toggle. Click on it to show the dwell measurements and then click on it again to go back to the transit view.
Overall good. A unit train of 106 railcars displayed the Equipment List report with last reported sighting in about 15 seconds. One to five railcars showing the last 8 sightings came back in just a couple of seconds. The Transit Times reports are sluggish when moving from one screen to another, and a 1 month chart took about 30 seconds to generate, but not slow enough to be unusable.
Ease of use
Straight forward and simple without requiring very much review of the Help documentation. I would recommend watching the tutorial when you first open the Railcar Tracking page. The link for this is in the upper right corner. If you expect to be using the Transit Times reports extensively, I would recommend taking the time to read the 100 page help document. It will only take you about 1 or 2 hours to review the entire document since it includes a lot of screen shots and white space. Recently, ShipCSX added a new page that puts access to video tutorials, help topics, FAQs and latest updates all in one place – it is called the ShipCSX Resource Library and is accessible by clicking on the Resources > ShipCSX Resource Library menu. Getting personal help is easy as well. Click on the icon that looks like a person on the bottom right corner of each page and you will be presented with 3 menus: Feedback/Suggestions, Request Training, Ask For Help.
I hope that this review gives you a better understanding of the ShipCSX Shipment Management Suite. If you use this site, please post some comments about your experience with it and any tips or tricks that you have.
All the best,