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Our Client operates a transcontinental railway in Canada and the United States and provides logistics and supply chain expertise to their customers. Through its subsidiaries, this Client provides rail and intermodal transportation services over a network of approximately 13,200 miles, serving the principal business centers in Canada including Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta, as well as the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States.

The railway network feeds directly into the Unites States heartland from the East and West coasts. There are over 15,000 employees supporting freight transportation for all types of commodities. PVA was brought into their main yard in Western Canada to improve and standardize their management processes. That was the beginning of a two year project spanning six core centers across Canada and the United States.


  • Developing an overall change management approach considering the different work sites and their local managements needs and specific requirements.
  • Engaging all of the different levels of management in the change process.
  • Executive performance coaching to support and lead the way.
  • Improving and standardizing the management processes to include proactive supervision tools, Management Operating Systems (MOS) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).
  • Generating operational capacity required to effectively manage increased traffic volumes across the network.
  • Reducing dwell time (or the length of time a car sits in the yard).

Assessment Findings

Logistics Railways Assessment Findings in Maintenance

  • Work Time

  • Non-effective Time

Logistics Railways Assessment Findings in Yard Operations

  • Work Time

  • Non-effective Time

  • Most of the Client’s current thinking regarding increasing capacity existed along the lines of capital improvements and train speeds rather than the systematic identification and elimination of the multitude of problems that drove capacity downward.
  • Inadequate and untimely communication between the employees with their Road Managers to receive directions and objectives related to their work assignments.
  • Trains waiting to leave the yard due to missing information as to where to drop-off rail cars.
  • Inadequate preventative maintenance of equipment to adjust to weather conditions.
  • Employees searching for their Supervisors in order to get their next assignment or to find out answers to questions or problems encountered.
  • Improper handling and management of the company’s equipment and assets.
  • There were no back-up assignments for the Maintenance employees.
  • Existing standards in the Yard Operations were loose resulting in the ability of the employees to exceed the existing standards 100% of the time.
  • Operating problems and performance issues were hidden in the process and became part of the daily work activities and existing standards.
  • There were no regular daily review meetings or discussion of issues at the beginning or during the shifts.
  • Supervisors did not communicate any expectations or objectives with regard to how long a task should take or how much work should be completed within a given period of time.
  • Supervisors spent most of their time involved in administrative activities with very little interaction time with their employees on-the-floor or in the yards.
  • Supervisors generally believed that their people knew what to do and would ask when they needed help.

PVA's Response

  • A project approach was implemented which focused on empowering the local management team in each yard.
  • All yard and maintenance activities were managed through the local Area Managers who reported progress to senior Management.
  • Planned senior management engagement activities in-the-field for maximum consistency and effectiveness across the network.
  • Developed a bottom-up approach within the yard itself ensuring that the Supervisors involved their own employees in the identification and resolution of variances.
  • Provided the Supervisors with training and in-the-field performance coaching to improve their levels of proactive supervision and problem resolution skills.
  • Designed and installed enhanced Management Operating Systems (MOS) in mechanical services and field operations to drive and support the Supervisor’s proactive behaviors.
  • Established and implemented a variety of communication methodologies and vehicles to ensure communication was proactively initiated by the Supervisors with their work crews who were situated over a wide geographical area (i.e. utilized text messages, emails and cell phones for the regular follow-up communication between the Supervisors and their employees).

The Results

Hover over graphs for more information

  • Management Operating Systems (MOS) drove a significant culture shift across the Client’s operations.
  • Proactive supervision levels increased dramatically from 4% at the start of the project to 40% at the end of the project.
  • Consistent and standardized work activity processes were implemented across the operation.
  • Increased levels of percent effectiveness from mechanical services resulted in a reduction in the idle time in train servicing.
  • Improved planning methodologies in maintenance led to increased locomotive servicing.
  • Reduction of opportunities in field operations resulted in dramatic reductions in the amount of dwell time for rail cars in the yards.

Increase in Supervisory Activities

Logistics Railway Supervisory Activities

4% 0% 39% 15% 42%
40% 9% 15% 27% 9%
  • Active Supervision
  • Training
  • Administration
  • Manual Work
  • Available

Reduction in Dwell Time

Logistics Railway Dwell Time in Hours

Increase in Savings

Logistics Railways Savings

Long Term Work Continuation

  • A Client Coordinator was trained and certified during the PVA engagement.
  • A quarterly audit program of the new Management Operating System was developed and implemented with the Coordinator.
  • PVA conducted audits over 18 months to ensure compliance to the continued utilization of the Management Operating Systems.
  • These Audits resulted in recommendations and action plans to further identify additional opportunities for improving operations.

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This project was not just about developing and installing a MOS (Management Operating System); it was also about changing the culture at CP and that is a very difficult thing to do.

Senior Vice President, Operations

We hired PVA for 2 reasons - for cost savings and to change people's attitudes. On both fronts they accomplished the targets.

Senior Vice President, Operations

St. Paul has participated in many CPR Initiatives in the past that many people have not seen as a benefit to the Yard, but this one is one of the most successful initiatives so far.

Manager of Yard Operations, Field Operations - St Paul, Minnesota Yard

The Daily Schedule Review Meeting has really helped me. I used to have to search for information to explain variances on the daily call. Now I am prepared because we have already discussed it and I know what actions are being taken.