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I have been reviewing photos and videos of the freight cars in trains over the past 10 years.

It seems like there was a sudden, extremely large number of freight car retirements between 2016 and 2020.

Are there large stretches of tracks with old freight cars sitting on them somewhere in a Western State?

Did some scrap dealer work extra hard to quickly cut down a large number of box cars and covered hoppers?

Andrew

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@David Johnston

That's a heck of an interesting chart!

1579+ thousand cars in service in 2007 vs 1669+ thousand cars in service in 2019 would signal an increase in in traffic, but i think that is misleading as the two varieties of cars that have gone up is covered hoppers and tank cars.  These two types are most likely to be empty one way, where as boxcars and gondolas can be loaded for each trip.  Boxcars and Equipped boxcars are both significantly down percentage wise, and I can only see the need for open top hoppers to continue to decline as environmental pressure and other factors push down the need for coal. 

Thank you for posting this.

More, and larger trucks.  Drive the interstates, Boston, MA, to the Pennsylvania, Ohio border.  Each of those 50 footers, a lot of product, that can be delivered efficiently, Short haul, long haul, Short haul v.s. rail.  Some custom loads are factory to job site in the construction industry.   Cross into Ohio on the interstate system, you will see tandem trailers.   

In general, a move away from any material handling system that was labor intense.   IMO, Mike CT 

Very interesting chart. As general background, there has been very little change in rail car or truck trailer per-capita capacity, (either by weight or by volume) between 2007 and the present. From the chart:

Box car numbers way down, whether plain, equipped or refrigerated, (because of the change to intermodal and/or Piggyback).

Hopper car numbers are down, (because steam coal tonnage is down because of cheap Wind, Solar and Frack Gas are way up).

Covered hopper numbers are up some, (because commodities tonnage is always increasing incrementally).

Tank car numbers way up, (to haul Frack Oil).

It's interesting to think back to a time when nearly everything moved in box cars, even automobiles. There was a lot of resistance to all those new-fangled special-purpose cars as they were being developed. Too much empty back-hauling to suit thrifty/skin-flint operating types.   I went with my friend Jim one time in his truck (Kenworth COE pulling a 53ft covered-wagon). We left Youngstown in the afternoon with a load of dashboards (cubed-out at only 11,000#) bound for Huntsville the next AM. We left Huntsville and dead-headed a short distance to an empty barrel depot someplace in Western Tennessee where we loaded (that's right, "we" as in Jim&I) empty stinky 55gal barrels. Drove East across the mountains into NC where we dropped the load of barrels somewhere near Charlotte (they unloaded with a fork-lift because we had put down pallets before hand-loading loading those barrels). We then dead-headed over to a paper mill on the coast just North of Charleston where they loaded on two huge rolls of paper. They didn't load them just right so Jim had to slide both the Fifth-Wheel and the trailer tandem to get the axle-loadings legal and then away we went to a big warehouse around state College, Pa. Then we dead-headed home, a couple hundred miles. Railroad box cars and truck covered-wagons definitely have their advantages.

I think one reason many switching-pike enthusiasts back-date is to operate in the age of nearly universal use of box cars because an elaborate switch-list serving several diverse industries can be implemented using a relatively small yard full of box cars.

The cars built in the past 60 years have a 50 year INTERCHANGE life span before being overhauled.

There were a lot of box cars built in the 1970's and 1980s' that must have been overhauled, stored somewhere, or dismantled somewhere.

There are now a large number of TTX high-cube 60' box cars and many new high-cube 50' box cars.

Half of the tank cars appear to have been rebuilt or replaced.

Andrew

Last edited by falconservice
@geysergazer posted:

Very interesting chart. As general background, there has been very little change in rail car or truck trailer per-capita capacity, (either by weight or by volume) between 2007 and the present. From the chart:

Box car numbers way down, whether plain, equipped or refrigerated, (because of the change to intermodal and/or Piggyback).

Hopper car numbers are down, (because steam coal tonnage is down because of cheap Wind, Solar and Frack Gas are way up).

Covered hopper numbers are up some, (because commodities tonnage is always increasing incrementally).

Tank car numbers way up, (to haul Frack Oil).

Since the advent of the industrial ethanol commodity,  that would also explain the rise in tank cars and covered hoppers. 

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