I noticed all over my town that I lived all my life ,they been ripping out the rails that cross the roads to the old factory’s. It’s been a few years now that I have even seen trains run down any of these rails and this is upsetting to me . It seems there is more trucks and less trains . What a different world we live in.

Original Post

The single-carload business is not being solicited any more.  The payback does not justify the expense these days.  It takes a lot of people to handle single car shipments from pickup to delivery.  The shippers gave up on it, too.  They can no longer call downtown to the local railroad agency, release a loaded car, and expect to have it picked up promptly.

For the most part, industrial spurs are, and will remain, unused.  They don't even build tracks into new industrial parks any more.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

Sad but true.  I watched my home town give up rail service 30 years ago.  And that was after pretty much 10 years of non-rail service.  

Paul  

Ship Rock Island ROCKET FREIGHT

 

2 Rails?  3 Rails?  Doesn't matter, I can't count that high in either case.

I love the smell of fresh-brewed creosote first thing in the morning.

If the government knew how much fun O-gauge railroading was, they'd outlaw it!

Common sense is my second best trait.  Nonsense is my first, of course. 

Perhaps surprisingly, there are at least three short factory spurs off the old New Haven Railroad main line Between Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut (17 miles and now operated by Metro-North Commuter Railroad) that are still in use. I often see boxcars on two of them (one delivering wood products) and another with five or six hopper cars removing trash off a short wye. It is interesting to see fallen flag road names on the boxcars and the ownership reporting marks on the hoppers.

MELGAR

The World is always changing. At least one of our Forum members (Lee Drennen) makes his living picking up containers at the rail-truck transfer yard and delivering them to businesses and vice-versa. He and his Mack are the present-day equivalent of an SW1500 and it's crew. 

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

If you study what has happened, the small branch lines have picked up most of the small car load/boxcar/freight business.  There is also some bulk grain business at major breweries and large deliveries of sugar, flour and corn syrup at the larger food processing plants. I believe that Hershey Chocolate also has a rail spur for receiving large shipments of cocoa beans. All the spur lines that went off to the factories have obviously closed as manufacturing has been moved to China courtesy of our politicians. What I see on the large railroad freight lines is mostly container, oil , lumber and tractor trailer movements.  AFAIK the Tropicana juice train is still operating as well.

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

A day will come when the tremendously wasteful way we handle our goods will no longer be viable and trains (or something like them) will return to the task.  Until then, we will throw away opportunity after opportunity being as wasteful as we can be just to satisfy rampant consumerism and novelitis and instant gratification. 

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

GEYSERGAZER brings up an interesting point. Now - at least in many smaller population centers - 'Transload' facilities are being built to service local industries; which is basically a combination of train and truck delivery service. A train offloads the goods to what amounts to a temporary warehouse facility, and a truck then loads the goods up and delivers them to the industries. It's cheaper for both the railroads and truckers and apparently is working because there seems to be more and more of these 'tlf's being built.

The industry is simply evolving, which sometimes means reduction in size. Evolution has been happening as long as railroading has existed. Conrail eliminated competing lines and salvaged a segment of the industry. Compare how many workers were aboard a train in the steam era to how many there are now. Or the longshoremen who were replaced by cranes in the current container era. From the nostalgic perspective most in this hobby look at things from, it seems a loss, but it is just the way business has always operated. That said, while I consider myself a realist, I am still among those lamenting the losses. 

On Long Island the NYAR has built a nice business handling freight across the Island on the LIRR ROW. Cars arrive via car-flaot in Brooklyn, and over the Hellgate Bridge in Queens. Most loads go to a large transfer facility in central Suffolk County, The Brookhaven Rail Terminal where the freight is transferred to trucks for the "final mile". Home Depot built a large warehouse at the facility after Hurricane Sandy to store building materials on the Island.

They also drop bulk loads along the way including fuel oil, gasoline, and propane. Trash and construction debris are usually part of the west-bound trips heading off the Island. Several Team Tracks serve smaller loads along the way.

The environmentalists like it because it reduces truck traffic.

Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Number 90 posted:

The single-carload business is not being solicited any more.  The payback does not justify the expense these days.  It takes a lot of people to handle single car shipments from pickup to delivery.  The shippers gave up on it, too.  They can no longer call downtown to the local railroad agency, release a loaded car, and expect to have it picked up promptly.

For the most part, industrial spurs are, and will remain, unused.  They don't even build tracks into new industrial parks any more.

I think it may not be that bad out here in the east, Tom.

Up here in the old rust belt the railroads still have a thriving business in many markets.  While traditional businesses like warehouses, distributors or newspapers no longer ship by rail due to the evolution of trucking there are certainly a lot of businesses that still ship by rail.   True, they are not one car shipments but one to five and they are switched at least daily.

Plastic pellets and liquid/bulk products such as corn sweeteners and chemicals as well as bulk frozen food shipments still ship best by rail.   And the magic of computers replaced the carding of cars and the need for RR clerks.

Up in my neck of the woods the new (post 1960) suburban industrial area has enough single industry sidings to justify a small 75 car 5 track yard with a two trick crew assignment to work them.  And this yard is an area that is ten miles from the second largest classification yard on the division. 

Probably a good thread for someone in the RR shipping business like Juniata Guy to explain his end. 

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

JerryG posted:

Melgar, I live in Plainville.  There are multiple-car consists that go right through the middle of town on nearly a daily basis.   We often have to wait at crossings, because the tracks go directly across major roads in town.

Thanks for the info. I'll have to take a ride up to Plainville to check out the action.

MELGAR

Rob:

I’ll be happy to weigh in but; I’ll pre-qualify my comments by noting I am now Juniata “the retired” Guy.  😉

Some railroads - CN, KCS and BNSF have continued to solicit loose car / manifest freight and offer competitive pricing options to win new business; although they definitely tend to look toward larger shippers to provide that additional traffic.  NS had been in this “club” until the psr fog descended onto their corporate offices earlier this year.  CSX appeared to give up on loose car traffic years before EHH arrived on the scene but; Jim Foote is showing indications he plans to reverse that course.  I note several recent changes in sales and marketing management that are encouraging signs Jim is serious about regaining manifest traffic.  

I won’t deny that manifest traffic does require a bit more work on the part of the railroad in terms of first and last mile service but; most locals serve multiple shipper sites daily, each of which would be receiving and/or shipping multiple carloads.  Tracking or tracing of shipments and waybilling is now handled electronically by the shippers themselves so railroads shouldn’t be incurring a lot of back office costs to support manifest traffic.  Likewise; freight invoicing and payment is pretty much automated further reducing the need for railroad clerical employees. Too; most locals (at least those switching my former employer’s rail served sites) now operate with two man crews so crew costs should be improved over the past decade.

The rail to truck transload business is actually very robust and an excellent way for railroads to add manifest freight traffic.  Like with large shippers; transloads normally receive and ship a fair number of cars daily.  Short line railroads, large terminal operators like Savage Industries as well as a number of large national tank truck carriers such as Superior have been fairly aggressive at opening new transload operations.  

From a shipper perspective; I have long been a proponent of these transloads as an ideal way to build new business in an area where trucking long distances might price you out of a prospective market.  I used transload facilities extensively for certain chemical products where it made economic sense to use rail over the long distance and trucks from the transload for regional distribution.  In short; transloads provide an excellent opportunity for railroads to convert long haul truck business to rail business.

If NS and UP will only take the reduced cost structure achieved through psr and use that to pursue new carload business opportunities in the same manner that CN has done (and CSX is talking about); I don’t see the carload business as being gloom and doom.  The thinking in Omaha and Atlanta has to change though; from price discipline / cost reduction / operating ratio to actually growing business for the future.  And I am highly doubtful this will occur with the senior management teams currently in place at UP and NS.  The fact that CN and CSX are now led by former marketing guys and both are preaching growth is not a coincidence.

Curt

 

Rule292 posted:
Number 90 posted:

The single-carload business is not being solicited any more.  The payback does not justify the expense these days.  It takes a lot of people to handle single car shipments from pickup to delivery.  The shippers gave up on it, too.  They can no longer call downtown to the local railroad agency, release a loaded car, and expect to have it picked up promptly.

For the most part, industrial spurs are, and will remain, unused.  They don't even build tracks into new industrial parks any more.

I think it may not be that bad out here in the east, Tom.

Plastic pellets and liquid/bulk products such as corn sweeteners and chemicals as well as bulk frozen food shipments still ship best by rail.

I guess I was being kind of provincial.  We run a double-ended local between Amarillo and Clovis daily. Because agriculture is the business of the Great Plains, the local's pickups and stouts are mostly fertilizer, wallboard, lumber, cattle feed, and things of that nature.  We don't have much manufacturing, refining, or distribution, and I think I failed to look out and take a broader view.  

Mea culpa.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

Number 90 posted:
Rule292 posted:
Number 90 posted:

The single-carload business is not being solicited any more.  The payback does not justify the expense these days.  It takes a lot of people to handle single car shipments from pickup to delivery.  The shippers gave up on it, too.  They can no longer call downtown to the local railroad agency, release a loaded car, and expect to have it picked up promptly.

For the most part, industrial spurs are, and will remain, unused.  They don't even build tracks into new industrial parks any more.

I think it may not be that bad out here in the east, Tom.

Plastic pellets and liquid/bulk products such as corn sweeteners and chemicals as well as bulk frozen food shipments still ship best by rail.

I guess I was being kind of provincial.  We run a double-ended local between Amarillo and Clovis daily. Because agriculture is the business of the Great Plains, the local's pickups and stouts are mostly fertilizer, wallboard, lumber, cattle feed, and things of that nature.  We don't have much manufacturing, refining, or distribution, and I think I failed to look out and take a broader view.  

Mea culpa.

It's interesting to see the "metamorphosis" of railroading here in the northeast.  If you ride the old PRR from NYC to Philly (Amtrak's Northeast Corridor) you can see scar after scar of sidings that served just about every brick building along the ROW.   

Another interesting ride is the old CNJ main line (NJ Transit Raritan Valley Line) from the Aldene connection to Raritan.  Hot Water's old stomping ground - a bazillion old brick and curtain wall buildings with the scars of yesteryear when the US was a manufacturing powerhouse and anyone of any size had sidings and railroad service.   Like the PRR, the CNJ was so busy as to need 4 and 5 tracks ("and even six tracks" as their 1948 promo movie touts) on the main from Elizabethport to Raritan to keep the freight traffic out of the way of passenger and commuter.   All gone.

Yet when we drive to the O scale March Meet crossing through the prairies of Ohio and Indiana there is such a dynamic railroad presence in new line industries with silos and railroad service.

Makes me smile since the explosion of making things out of plastic has really helped industry and the RR in the USA.

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

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