Was wondering if there has been significant loading or train annulments (freight, commuter, Amtrak) due to the virus?  I get Progressive Railroading and Railway Age but of course they are two months leadtime behind, so haven't seen anything there.  Maybe people who subscribe to Train Orders etc have read of real time cutbacks.  Or OGR members who run the 1:1 scale trains are knowledgeable.

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rrman posted:

Was wondering if there has been significant loading or train annulments (freight, commuter, Amtrak) due to the virus? 

Yes. Many, MANY commuter lines have drastically reduced service, and some have even shut-down completely. Then there are the subways in NYC and Chicago, for example, that have also drastically cut-back. 

I get Progressive Railroading and Railway Age but of course they are two months leadtime behind, so haven't seen anything there.  Maybe people who subscribe to Train Orders etc have read of real time cutbacks.  Or OGR members who run the 1:1 scale trains are knowledgeable.

 

The South Shore interurban line between Michigan City and downtown Chicago is running on a reduced train schedule.  John in Lansing, ILL

Of late I have read that railroad car loadings are down, but was trackside in recent evenings, along the BNSF "racetrack" (Chicago-Aurora, IL), and was surprised by the amount of inter-modal, mixed freight, coal and oil train activity. A good recreational activity in these constricted times, and hardly anyone around to penetrate my 6' "shield".

Last edited by mark s
mark s posted:

Of late I have read that railroad car loadings are down, but was trackside in recent evenings, along the BNSF "racetrack" (Chicago-Aurora, IL), and was surprised by the amount of inter-modal, mixed freight, coal and oil train activity. A good recreational activity in these constricted times, and hardly anyone around to penetrate my 6' "shield".

I noticed that UP hasn't "squirted" as many trains through Cedar Rapids.  Could almost count on one about every 15 to 20 minutes apart one direction or other.  Now seems 20-30 minutes and sometimes longer.  Coal loading seems less, more stackers, but I am now out there every day writing down consists, just a casual observer.

The UP rep at the Transportation Policy Council of the Houston Galveston Area Council said train traffic is still flowing through Houston.  Amounts not mentioned.

As bad as this hotd everybody, this thing may "help" decongest the Houston Terminal Sub.

Per a group I'm part of, NS has started annulling trains temporarily, but it is traffic-specific (as one might expect). The two Fort Wayne Line/western Pittsburgh Line locals are still operating for now (as are the Class IIs and IIIs they interchange with), but the two dedicated autorack movements, 18N and 27N, are annulled and the remaining output for 27N is moving on M1V. When I went railfanning earlier this month, before the case count accelerated, NS still seemed to be running the same amount of intermodal and manifest movements (and I saw more coal movements than usual), but things likely have changed since then. 

The Port Authority has changed about 5/8s of its bus service, but has not curtailed light rail service as of yet. 

Both Florida-NYC trains are still running (Silver Meteor/Star). I thought we might have had to take the train home from Florida on 3/25, but our AA flight was OK (but half full). The airports were like a ghost town. Our suburban Philadelphia trains are on a Saturday schedule.

Not certain about other Amtrak but the three nonstop NYC to DC Acela's recently added have been dropped.

johnf posted:

For the week ended 3/21 rail traffic was down 8.6% versus last year.  The Association of American Railroads has a graph that shows weekly carloads compared to the last 3 years. There has been a noticeable decline since early February.

 

Thanks, johnf.

This is the one (AAR webpage) I'm watching going forward. It is interesting to me that carloadings are only down this much. Rail traffic is usually a leading economic  indicator but not this time, I guess because of how sudden the stoppages were/are. I expect carloadings will drop drastically going forward though.

rrman posted:

Although not directly related to annulments, here is a message from Brotherhood of locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.  Might need a cup of coffee while reading long statement.

https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=12323

Thanks, rrman.

My takeaway. Management must:

1) encourage instead of discourage stay-home-if-sick

2) rehire furloughed people to replace those off sick and to take necessary steps sanitizing the workplace (everything from cabs to bunkhouses)

This is a microcosm including yes, increased costs that must somehow be borne/paid-for.

Several NS train symbols have ended , ,maybe temporarily like the 236 pigtrain now combined with the 234 , and most of the autorack trains have combined like the 29g all running on the 27v.

 

Dominic Mazoch posted:
rrman posted:

Although not directly related to annulments, here is a message from Brotherhood of locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.  Might need a cup of coffee while reading long statement.

https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/newsflash.asp?id=12323

A moral tale still being written.

Well, one of the morals is that the actions of certain political forces that have so weakened unions in this country is taking its toll.

breezinup posted:

Well, one of the morals is that the actions of certain political forces that have so weakened unions in this country is taking its toll.

Careful, big brother is reading re: words "political forces"

All Amtrak Acela Services are suspended. There are only four trains in each direction from Boston to DC per day. A drastic reduction from the norm.

The MBTA (Boston Area) is on a reduced schedule. I would believe the auto racks are impacted as demand has fallen but the demand to keep the supply chain intact has made some firms busier than ever - however that is not the norm.

Regardless a big thank you to railroaders and all involved in keeping the supply chain moving.

Paul

palallin posted:

Tangent, possibly related:  Interstate semi traffic has certainly not slowed down.

And we should all be thankful for that. Given this situation, trucks are indeed a vital lifeline for us and much more able to fill regional and local needs than railroads.

Andre

Alaska Railroad summer passenger trains will not start up in May.  They expect no summer trains starting up until July1.

RK posted:

Alaska Railroad summer passenger trains will not start up in May.  They expect no summer trains starting up until July1.

We WERE going to do the Grand Canyon RR trip, but I suspect that trip is going to circle the drain.

Interesting that the Silver Star to Florida, yesterday, had 1 sleeper instead of 2, yet had added coaches. You'd think it would be the other way around considering "social distancing".

Was reading this morning that seismologists have noticed that the earth is vibrating 20-30% less with fewer trains, airplanes, heavy industry thumping etc, running and shaking the ground.

Was looking to head from New York Penn to Albany-Rensselaer on Amtrak tomorrow (April 7). Amtrak's list of reduced service (posted 5p today) still shows Maple Leaf operating to Niagara Falls, and Adirondack to Rensselaer. However, reservation site doesn't list either train westbound, and only the Maple Leaf eastbound. Called reservations and got the same answer (she had the same info the website shows about Maple Leaf and Adirondack). Agent said looked like the trains aren't shown for reservations anytime soon. Anyone have more info?

David

Last edited by NKP Muncie

Just remember that the BLET has an agenda.  It is the union which represents Locomotive Engineers on most railroads, and Trainmen on some.  So, their press releases, while they contain a lot of good information, should not be considered to be devoid of bias.  BLET is a good organization with a long and distinguished record.  Read their statements with the knowledge, though, that they are not neutral.

My oldest son, who is in Engine Service, informs me that his railroad is sanitizing locomotive cabs whenever locomotives go to service facilities, but there are many step on/step off crew changes at intermediate terminals where there is no Company servicing or cleaning of cabs, and this has been the case for decades.  Therefore, he, and many other Engineers, have always routinely carried sanitizing wipes in their grips, and they wipe down the control stand, door handles, window frames, and the seat, every trip.  As he points out, he could be relieving an inbound Engineer who adheres to good standards of hygiene, or he could be relieving a crude individual who wipes the tobacco juice from his lips with his hand, sneezes on his hand (or on the control stand), and never cleans his hands after using the toilet.  So it is not just the railroad who has responsibility in the sanitary cab issue.

My son reports that he has never seen the railroad take any measures to sanitize register rooms or crew lobbies at either his home, or away-from-home, terminals.  That does not mean that they never do it, but it appears that -- if they sanitize at all, they do not do so often.  He always wipes computer keyboards with sanitizing wipes, before use.  It is necessary to register on and off duty, print lineups, and, sometimes, print Track Warrants and Track Bulletins, himself by use of a keyboard.

Since the pandemic began, he has been opening his cab window to be sure that there is some ventilation and changing of the air inside the cab.  This creates a minor nuisance by requiring the use of hearing protection which is not required in closed-window comfort cabs, but it is a case of doing the right thing for the right reason.

Last edited by Number 90
laming posted:
palallin posted:

Tangent, possibly related:  Interstate semi traffic has certainly not slowed down.

And we should all be thankful for that. Given this situation, trucks are indeed a vital lifeline for us and much more able to fill regional and local needs than railroads.

Andre

Fair enough, Andre, and quite correct, but it's a sorry situation that we've created when that is true.

palallin posted:

Fair enough, Andre, and quite correct, but it's a sorry situation that we've created when that is true.

No biggie. This isn't a "truck is better 'n railroads" flame fest situation. Really, what we're seeing to day (trucks becoming so vital) was occasioned by more of a shift in our society and our industrial base over the decades, and the trucks were better able to adapt.

All of us here love railroading. As for me, railroading is in my blood since before I can remember. In fact, as many here know, I earned my retirement railroading. (For which I am SO thankful, especially now.)

However, I do recognize that a railroad is at a disadvantage when it comes to responding to individual needs of a smaller-type business that come and go, and/or move about the country seeking better locations to be in business. At the very best, even a "small customer" oriented switching line is disadvantaged on account of the fixed physical plant of a rail line. It's just the nature of the beast.

After deregulation, the railroads responded to this fixed physical plant situation (perhaps a bit knee jerk, but I'm not at the helm of a large railroad corporation) by going mega and streamlining operations, reducing redundancy of physical plant, and aiming for the line haul, indicating there may be validity in the old saying that says "railroads haul, but trucks deliver".

However, it's that darned physical plant of the railroad that has hamstrung railroading since its creation.

IMHO, the bottom line is that in a best case scenario, trucking and railroading are to be symbiotic and feed off each other. (Which they are doing to a degree.)

A fact that we railroad lovers will resist: On a regional level, railroads will NEVER be able to give the speed of delivery that a truck can provide. No way.

Example of a customer I used to switch on the A&M: Feed can be loaded into a truck in the afternoon, and delivered to the regional consumer the next day, and that with compliance with all Federal mandates. It would take a railcar DAYS (or a week or so) to do the same. SO, the best case scenario for the railroad is to be involved delivering the BULK (in this case grain and additives) product to the feed company, and then the feed company processes/blends/mixes and then loaded onto a truck for regional delivery. Win-win.

Andre

For the past week or so, the Silver Meteor and Star have been running fewer cars. For example the Meteor is now 2 coaches (down from 4), and 2 sleepers (down from 3). The odd thing is that these trains seem to always be running on time now (compared to about half the time before). Why would that be? Fewer freight trains? In case you are wondering, I often watch them on YouTube live-cam going trough Ashland, VA. Star at 4:48 pm, Meteor at 9:14 pm. Also, if you are wondering why don't they just run one train per day...they each take a different route in 2 areas (SC and FL).

Last edited by Joe Hohmann

From the AAR website that johnf provided a link to:



"The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending April 11, 2020.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 412,503 carloads and intermodal units, down 21.9 percent compared with the same week last year."

 

So carloadings continue their steep decline. With the Hoosac Tunnel reopened we do have trains again on Pan Am, nee B&M but something like half as many trains as is normal. There is always traffic variation on this line so not easy to get good numbers but it is definitely way down. Not surprising given the situation.

The AAR website:

https://www.aar.org/data-center/rail-traffic-data/

Two days ago I crossed the arrival yard of the Englewood complex on Loop 610 in Houston.  The yard was empty.  Is EW being fat switched right now?

Plus the parking lot on the line along the Hary Toll Road was empty.

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