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Demise of the Olympian Hiawatha Locked

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Friday, June 4, 2021 10:11 AM
 

TRR
All of the passenger services on the Northern Tier lost money. That was, recall, the argument behind creating Amtrak in the first place. The Northern Pacific, running the route comparable to the Milwaukee Olympian Hiawatha, was losing $2 million a year. The ICC, rejecting an NP plea to abandon half of its transcontinental passenger services said "Nope! You're not losing ENOUGH!" "NP, Discontinuance of Trains," Finance Docket 25718, Interstate Commerce Commission.
 

The argument behind creating Amtrak was keeping passenger service. If not for some behind the scenes palyers. Amtrak would not be in existence today.. Most of Nixons staff didn't care about passenger service. They were banking on subsidized air transport and buses..

 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
TRR
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Posted by TRR on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 9:19 PM

Mark Meyer: "There is no evidence that taking over the UP “Cities” streamliners was profitable over the life of the contract (15.5 years), especially when one considers the millions of dollars of required upgrades, and the lack of freight business garnered."

Since Mark Meyer actually knows nothing about any of this, his endless speculation is both interesting and entertaining.

However, we DO know, from internal studies, that the Union Pacific contract with the Milwaukee was profitable, and I can point directly to an internal study that says so, and by how much, courtesy of Milt Clark, a neighbor and good friend who actually had long experience at the Milwaukee Road.

"Report of Committee on Possible Mergers of Union Pacific -- Rock Island -- Southen Pacific Railroads, May 3, 1963."

"B. Passenger Train Operation. The so-called "City" trains are presently being operated jointly with the Union Pncific and the Southern Pacific by the Milwaukee betweon Chicago and Omaha. These operations are covered by a oontract which provides for a one-year termination notice from either party. As shown in the following Table IX, during the year 1962 the Milwaukee realized a net gain of $1,604,086 based on out-of-pocket expenses in the operation of the City trains between Chicago and Omaha. Revenues on these trains were $5,590,478, and out-of-pocket operating expenses were $3,986,392. If the Union Pacific were to acquire its own line into Chicago, it ispresumed that the City trains would be transferren to that line. The result will be an annual loss of $1,604,086 to the Milwaukee based on 1962 operations."  P. 21.

https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/PostWar/1963MergerCommitteeReport.pdf

To the next pretext: Mark Meyer: "Thank you, by the way, for having these public documents available at your website.  Most helpful in showing why the Lines West is no more, and this is one of the best examples.  I never said there wasn’t a plan."

Actually, you did. It was characteristic, a mistake, blatant, no acknowledgement of that.

In fact, between 1968 and 1977 the Milwaukee Road's Lines East, in concert with all other Midwest railroads, lost 35% of its traffic, mostly high revenue. During that same time period, despite the completion of the Interstate Highway System, Milwaukee Road Lines West gained 41% in traffic, virtually all high revenue, long haul.

Mark Meyer: “Unfortunately, observation of car counts and number of trains is only anecdotal unless the profit margin is known.... i doubt that actual data on this is available, and really, I suspect it never was.”

That was a false statement. There was  abundant data available, but Mark Meyer was simply unaware of it. Lends great strength to credibility, right? Sad

And, here it is, in the "Application to Abandon," filed by Milwaukee Road, specifically, Appendix K. Now, that Mark Meyer was unaware of that is not exceptional. Why should he be? And why should he know anything about the Milwaukee Road? Railroad history and economics was never his railroad job, nor part of his education, as far as the his own statements concede, he knows nothing about it.

And Appendix K was controversial. When first submitted, it showed heavy losses for Lines West. Well, that made sense if they were trying to abandon it. But, the ICC's Office of Rail Public Counsel -- which had been set up to safeguard the "public's interest" in railroad matters -- through their auditor, David Smith, found out, "oops," the Milwaukee had been able to show losses ONLY by double-entering expenses. In that fashion, and after that correction, Appendix K showed ... profitability, right through 1977.

In fact, that data was known, and was testified to, again under oath, by genuine experts (i.e. people that actually knew something about it. None of them were named “Mark Meyer.”) As I have noted, their testimony was contained in the Application to Abandon, which I have freely made avaible to everyone, including Mark Meyer. He denies the “information is available.’ In fact, it was not only available, it had a name: “Appendix K” the “Application to Abandon.

 https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/ApplicationtoAbandonLinesWestFullDocument.pdf

"We" knew for a fact that Lines East, Milwaukee Road was losing its shirt, along with all Midwestern Railroads (that's why it was called, the "Midwest Rail Crisis," leading to the 3R and 4R Acts) while Lines West was one of the few success stories of 1970s railroading. "Rock Island Line Files for Reorganization," New York Times, March 18, 1975.

https://www.nytimes.com/1975/03/18/archives/rock-island-line-files-for-reorganization-plans-to-terminate-its.html

At the ICC Hearings for the Northern Lines merger, the Northern Lines testified as follows:

"Anticipated improvements in freight schedules are based mainly on the consolidation of terminal facilities at common points and the use of the shortest of most efficient internal routes available to the unified company. Applicants indicate that the New Company would establish through transcontinental freight routes over the shortest available lines and the most favorable grades. Appli­cants gave numerous examples of improved freight schedules that could be established following consummation of the mergers. For example, applicants indicated that the fastest schedule of the Great Northern from Seattle to Chicago would be reduced by the New Company from 94 hours and 15 minutes to 82 hours and 30 minutes or 11 hours-~d45 minutes faster than the present schedule. The fastest transcontinental eastbound train of the Northern Pacific leaves Seattle at 9:00 p. m. and arrives Chicago 12:15 p. m. on the 5th day, a total elapsed time of 97 hours and 15 minutes. After unification, the departure time would beE':30 p.m. and arrival time at Chicago would be 10:30 a.m. on the morning of the 8th day, a total elapsed time of 84 hours, or 13 hours less than present schedule" 328 ICC 474 (1966)

https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/ICC/NothernLinesDecision1966.pdf

At that time, on that date, the Milwaukee was running #261 on a 55 hour schedule, and #262 on a 59 hour schedule. The ICC denied the merger. The Northern Lines panicked. Absolutely panicked. And, just a glance at what was happening to, for instance, the Northern Pacific shows why. It was in full "failure" mode, and all of its land grants had been tied up, ultimately for the duration of J.P. Morgan's "NP Bonds" -- 100 years. They HAD TO HAVE THAT MERGER! In desperation, the Northern Lines Merger Committee quickly agreed to the Milwaukee Road's proposed conditions. Warren Ploeger had put together those conditions in his Seattle Office, as Western General Counsel. They were designed to transform the West, and they did.

Operating Ratio Comparison, Milwaukee Road, Northern Pacific

Actually you did say there was no plan, that no one stepped forward with one, and no one had any proposal. That claim was another complete fabrication. At the insistence of the general public, shippers, employees and the States, the Milwaukee Railroad Restructuring Act provided explicity for the creation of an umbrella organization to represent those interests. http://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/MilwaukeeRoadRestructuringAct.pdf

Another Mark Meyer allegation "bites the dust."

The Plan was detailed. The Chair was Paul Schmechel, a friend of mine, who was President of the Montana Power Company, and of the Western Energy Company. The President was Bill Brodsky, who had been on the plannng staff at the Milwaukee, knew it well, and later was the founding President of Montana Rail Link. His able assistant was Fred Simpson, who was also on the Milwaukee's planning staff and who confronted Trustee Stanley Hill who had asserted, early on, that the "Pacific Extension must go."

Simpson pushed back. That was NOT what the "numbers said." Hillman just sat there. Few people dared to challenge Stanley E.G. Hillman. At one point the Company joke was the the "E.G." stood for "Everything Goes!" But, confronted, Hillman just sat there. Finally, he mumbled "Better minds than yours have looked at this!" By whom he meant Worthington Smith and Paul Cruikshank. Simpson got up, walked out the door, and returned to Bainbridge Island to practice law.

To his credit, and his own dismay, when Hillman got his "outside studies" back, he saw that Simpson had been correct. Hillman ruefully, but publicly, conceded, "It turns out that the Milwaukee Road is a relatively wealthy company!" And, for the most part, stopped speaking to WLS and PFC. The way PFC phrased it to me was "Mr. Hillman became difficult to work with." I'll bet he did! But it was too late to turn back the Pacific Extension abandonment. Hillman got an ulcer and promptly quit.

The ICC had observed, in its ultimate 1968 approval of the Burlington Northern Merger, that "the elimination of intercarrier routing barriers and the strengthening of Milwaukee were sin qua non elements in our approval of the merger." 348 ICC 132. "Spokane, Portland and Seattle -- Control" July 28, 1975.

The traffic shifts were dramatic.

 There is a documented, well-developed record available. That's not Mark Meyer's "thing." He has other motivations, and they corrode and corrupt whatever "it is" he thinks he "needs" to stir in to avoid that detailed documentation.

The Final Proposed Reorganization Plan, that Meyer denied existed, can be found here. http://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/NewMilwaukeeLines.pdf

They had four weeks to put the thing together, and, frankly, did a yeoman job of it. But, it was not enough. As Tom Ploss pointed out, "for the first time, the ICC established a required prediction of profitability exceeding 10%." Only one railroad in the country met that brand-new criteria. The Chair if the ICC, Darius Gaskins, conceded to Bill Brodsky, that "It was the most difficult decision we had to make while I was at the ICC."

Gaskins later became CEO of the Burlington Northern.

TRR
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Posted by TRR on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 10:04 PM

Mark Meyer: "Mr. Sol's "expertise" is debatable.   On the website indicated and elsewhere, one will find his treatises on the Milwaukee Road.  Specific to the Olympian Hiawatha, one of his claims is especially entertaining from the "American Rails" website: "From these numbers it is clear to see that despite what you may have previously read or understood about Milwaukee's Northwest flagship, the railroad was far more efficient than its competitors with transcontinental rail service."

A representative example. I never wrote that about the Olympian Hiawatha. Someone else did. A complete fabrication.

However, from "that source," any remarks about "expertise" have their own, comic, value! Big Smile

TRR
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Posted by TRR on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 6:01 PM

Reviewing anything Mr. Meyer writes is always worth the effort, or, at least, the entertainment!

From some time "back," Mark Meyer

“Michael Sol When there are 31 derailments in 28 days, ANY railroad would have business "backed up." That usually happens when the railroad is closed.”

In his usual fashion, complete ignorance of the Milwaukee Road, a railroad he knew nothing about, and proves it daily, shows there.

I am very familiar with the portion that had “31 derailments in 28 days.”

For the record – something Mark Meyer desperately needs – the Avery Hill was virtually completely rebuilt 1971, 1972 and 1973, and then, in October, 1973, the derailments “hit.”

The record of that rebuild can be found here: Milepost 1750 to 1773. Track Profile, Montana Division, 1976. https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Construction/Milwaukee%20Profiles/TrackChartMontanaDivision1976.pdf

The Avery Hill had substantial additional 132 lb steel added, new ties, and 4" of new “Clinton Crushed Quartzite” which was the very high grade quartzite purchased from BN’s excellent source at Clinton, Montana – crushed quartzite ballast. It was, in fact, the “best part of the entire system.”

After two years of rebuilding the entire section, why, in October, 1973, did “the trains start falling off the track,” as Bill Brodsky pointed out, “31 derailments in 28 days?”

The Joes had been taken off as motive power for a “trial” for the month of October, 1973. The timing looked ... like that HAD to have something to do with it. Dynamometer car 5000 went up and down the Avery Hill, trying to find out ... why? It couldn’t be the “track,” that was virtually brand-new, and the heaviest rail on the system. Locotrol? Well, it had been in use; but not with those results. The Milwaukee put their best people on it. That didn’t include Mark Meyer for reasons known only to Groucho Marx.

It was a mystery. Excellent track. New rebuild. But why “October, 1973?”

Milwaukee had taken delivery of the new 4,750 cu ft PS-2 covered hopper grain cars over the summer. A newer, higher capacity design, those were the “America’s Resourceful Railroad” cars. Still a “100 ton car,” the new cars were distinctive by the extra 250 cu yds of grain they could carry. They began arriving in August, 1973.

They began moving “West” – previously most railroad wheat moved East – after the Russian grain deal in the Fall of 1973. October was harvest season.

The ominous, unknown flaw? The extra capacity had been added “up top.” As did several railroads that experienced the same problem, those particular cars were particularly susceptible to “harmonic rock,” AND, the exacerbated transition differential between the 4" inches of brand new crushed quartzite ballast from BN’s Clinton facility. To maintain the clearances for the tri-level Autoracks, new ballast had not been added to the tunnel floors.

The new PS-2 4750 Covered Hopper cars, just arriving at the Milwaukee, then, had three distinct features; 1) the cars measured 57ft. 4in. over strikers and 45ft. 9in. between truck centers, 2) the added capacity had been added on the new PS-2 design “up top” making those cars more “top heavy” than their predecessors, and 3) they were encountering the results of a virtually complete rebuilding that exacerbated the transition between 4" of brand new quartzite ballast, and the lowered tunnel floors resulting from the 1961 auto-rack capacity project. Now, those new PS-2 Hopper Cars were giving the same problems to all the railroads that had them: harmonic rock, wherever they operated over standard length jointed rail. On the Milwaukee, that problem was significantly exacerbated by the artificial transitions between the new ballast and the tunnel floors. The “problem” was so widespread and severe, that AAR commissioned a formal study of it.  

  “Track-train dynamics Harmonic Roll Series Torsional and Flexural Car Stiffness Characteristics”

https://railroads.dot.gov/sites/fra.dot.gov/files/fra_net/18364/Harmonic_Roll_Vol4.pdf

And, on the Avery Hill, there were three key factors: the lowered tunnel floors from the 1961 increase in tunnel capacity had installed transitional rail entering and leaving the tunnels. A train entering a modified tunnel would pass through a grade transition, and then another one when leaving the tunnel.

That series of prolems, on virtually brand-new track, exacerbated a problem occuring eveywhere with those specific cars, only on jointed, 39 foot rail sections, that created the harmonic with the specific 45'9" centers of those cars. And, as the Milwaukee finally discovered after extensive dynamometer tests, that harmonic existed only at certain track speeds, which happened to be the standard speed of the diesel-electric powered trains on the Avery Hill. Change the speed? Problem solved. But, related to that "change in speed" was a specific motive power problem. The heavy trains carrying the new grain cars were ... Locotrol. As the X-5000 Dynamometer Car observed, with the tunnels and curvature on the Avery Hill, the Locotrol units were losing contact with the head end units. They were attempting to work at different speeds. Wham! Derailment on curve!

But, then reread Mark Meyer’s explanation. Yet another key point that he not only “got wrong,” but out of sheer ignorance, got entirely backwards.

As usual. Reading the American Association of Railroads' research report on precisely that issue will add additional illumination.

Brand new railcars, new design, virtually brand new heavy rail, change in motive power, what could possibly go wrong? Mark Meyer will try and tell you! AAR's evaluation is far more useful.

Best regards, Michael Sol

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 11:57 PM

TRR
Reviewing anything Mr. Meyer writes is always worth the effort, or, at least, the entertainment!

From some time "back," Mark Meyer

“Michael Sol When there are 31 derailments in 28 days, ANY railroad would have business "backed up." That usually happens when the railroad is closed.”

In his usual fashion, complete ignorance of the Milwaukee Road, a railroad he knew nothing about, and proves it daily, shows there.

I am very familiar with the portion that had “31 derailments in 28 days.”

For the record – something Mark Meyer desperately needs – the Avery Hill was virtually completely rebuilt 1971, 1972 and 1973, and then, in October, 1973, the derailments “hit.”

The record of that rebuild can be found here: Milepost 1750 to 1773. Track Profile, Montana Division, 1976. https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Construction/Milwaukee%20Profiles/TrackChartMontanaDivision1976.pdf

The Avery Hill had substantial additional 132 lb steel added, new ties, and 4" of new “Clinton Crushed Quartzite” which was the very high grade quartzite purchased from BN’s excellent source at Clinton, Montana – crushed quartzite ballast. It was, in fact, the “best part of the entire system.”

After two years of rebuilding the entire section, why, in October, 1973, did “the trains start falling off the track,” as Bill Brodsky pointed out, “31 derailments in 28 days?”

The Joes had been taken off as motive power for a “trial” for the month of October, 1973. The timing looked ... like that HAD to have something to do with it. Dynamometer car 5000 went up and down the Avery Hill, trying to find out ... why? It couldn’t be the “track,” that was virtually brand-new, and the heaviest rail on the system. Locotrol? Well, it had been in use; but not with those results. The Milwaukee put their best people on it. That didn’t include Mark Meyer for reasons known only to Groucho Marx.

It was a mystery. Excellent track. New rebuild. But why “October, 1973?”

Milwaukee had taken delivery of the new 4,750 cu ft PS-2 covered hopper grain cars over the summer. A newer, higher capacity design, those were the “America’s Resourceful Railroad” cars. Still a “100 ton car,” the new cars were distinctive by the extra 250 cu yds of grain they could carry. They began arriving in August, 1973.

They began moving “West” – previously most railroad wheat moved East – after the Russian grain deal in the Fall of 1973. October was harvest season.

The ominous, unknown flaw? The extra capacity had been added “up top.” As did several railroads that experienced the same problem, those particular cars were particularly susceptible to “harmonic rock,” AND, the exacerbated transition differential between the 4" inches of brand new crushed quartzite ballast from BN’s Clinton facility. To maintain the clearances for the tri-level Autoracks, new ballast had not been added to the tunnel floors.

The new PS-2 4750 Covered Hopper cars, just arriving at the Milwaukee, then, had three distinct features; 1) the cars measured 57ft. 4in. over strikers and 45ft. 9in. between truck centers, 2) the added capacity had been added on the new PS-2 design “up top” making those cars more “top heavy” than their predecessors, and 3) they were encountering the results of a virtually complete rebuilding that exacerbated the transition between 4" of brand new quartzite ballast, and the lowered tunnel floors resulting from the 1961 auto-rack capacity project. Now, those new PS-2 Hopper Cars were giving the same problems to all the railroads that had them: harmonic rock, wherever they operated over standard length jointed rail. On the Milwaukee, that problem was significantly exacerbated by the artificial transitions between the new ballast and the tunnel floors. The “problem” was so widespread and severe, that AAR commissioned a formal study of it.  

  “Track-train dynamics Harmonic Roll Series Torsional and Flexural Car Stiffness Characteristics”

https://railroads.dot.gov/sites/fra.dot.gov/files/fra_net/18364/Harmonic_Roll_Vol4.pdf

And, on the Avery Hill, there were three key factors: the lowered tunnel floors from the 1961 increase in tunnel capacity had installed transitional rail entering and leaving the tunnels. A train entering a modified tunnel would pass through a grade transition, and then another one when leaving the tunnel.

That series of prolems, on virtually brand-new track, exacerbated a problem occuring eveywhere with those specific cars, only on jointed, 39 foot rail sections, that created the harmonic with the specific 45'9" centers of those cars. And, as the Milwaukee finally discovered after extensive dynamometer tests, that harmonic existed only at certain track speeds, which happened to be the standard speed of the diesel-electric powered trains on the Avery Hill. Change the speed? Problem solved. But, related to that "change in speed" was a specific motive power problem. The heavy trains carrying the new grain cars were ... Locotrol. As the X-5000 Dynamometer Car observed, with the tunnels and curvature on the Avery Hill, the Locotrol units were losing contact with the head end units. They were attempting to work at different speeds. Wham! Derailment on curve!

But, then reread Mark Meyer’s explanation. Yet another key point that he not only “got wrong,” but out of sheer ignorance, got entirely backwards.

As usual. Reading the American Association of Railroads' research report on precisely that issue will add additional illumination.

Brand new railcars, new design, virtually brand new heavy rail, change in motive power, what could possibly go wrong? Mark Meyer will try and tell you! AAR's evaluation is far more useful.

Best regards, Michael Sol

B&O/Chessie System had restrictions on train's handling Hi Cube covered hoppers on 6 degree or greater curves.

Trains containing them had to EITHER maintain a speed of 25 MPH or greater or 10 MPH or less in the particular territory.  Speeds between 10 & 25 MPH permitted the harmonic rock off.

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Posted by Vermontanan2 on Saturday, June 19, 2021 1:59 AM

TRR

From some time "back," Mark Meyer

“Michael Sol When there are 31 derailments in 28 days, ANY railroad would have business "backed up." That usually happens when the railroad is closed.”

Etc....

For those having a "WTF" moment here, you're not alone.  It's from another thread altogether, somewhere else, and completely irrelevant.  But then the point is character assassination rather than any attempt to convey information.

But to clarify:  The AAR's explanation is correct.

My input that was that 31 derailments in 28 days was not desirable thing, and it was self-inflicted:  The tunnels were lowered to increase clearance, but instead of lowering them sufficiently to accommodate the new ballast, the Milwaukee didn't do that, they just didn't put ballast in the tunnel.....so there was a dip in the track at each end of the tunnel causing the problem.  While other railroads did experience some problems with the cars, the criticality was nowhere near the better-than-one-per-day on the Milwaukee Road.  In other words, you get what you pay for.

Also, for clarification: BN didn't have a "Clinton facility" claimed by Mr. Sol.  On Burlington Northern (and Northern Pacific), the ballast pit was always known as McQuarrie (3.7 miles west of Clinton).  Clinton was best-known for its annual (since discontinued) Testicle Festival.  (As long as we're focusing on nothing to do with this thread.)

It also shows that when the Milwaukee needed first class ballast, it looked to the competition that had it and used it: Burlington Northern.  Or, as Fred Hyde described the Milwaukee Road in Montana: "the finest dirt track mainline in the west."

Thanks again to Mr. Sol for, as always, pointing out another Milwaukee Road Lines West deficiency. 

 

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Posted by Vermontanan2 on Saturday, June 19, 2021 2:05 AM

TRR

"B. Passenger Train Operation. The so-called "City" trains are presently being operated jointly with the Union Pncific and the Southern Pacific by the Milwaukee betweon Chicago and Omaha. These operations are covered by a oontract which provides for a one-year termination notice from either party. As shown in the following Table IX, during the year 1962 the Milwaukee realized a net gain of $1,604,086 based on out-of-pocket expenses in the operation of the City trains between Chicago and Omaha. Revenues on these trains were $5,590,478, and out-of-pocket operating expenses were $3,986,392. If the Union Pacific were to acquire its own line into Chicago, it ispresumed that the City trains would be transferren to that line. The result will be an annual loss of $1,604,086 to the Milwaukee based on 1962 operations."  P. 21.

This is the second time Mr. Sol has mentioned the anecdotal 1962 “net gain” in this thread (and numerous times on others).  But again, Mr, Sol offers nothing on the other 14 ½ years because all he has is this one “Merger Committee Report.”  Moreover, this report does not (and by its nature cannot) address the $10 million or so spent by the Milwaukee to ready the Chicago-Council Bluffs route to handle the (initially) five extra UP streamliners (each way).  But the mere fact that consolidations in the service happened immediately after the 1955 takeover and continued (along with some discontinuances of service) until 1971 is a pretty good indication that the services were not profitable.  For about a year starting in late 1969 through most of 1970, the state of Illinois wouldn’t allow the Milwaukee to discontinue the Illinois portion of the City of Denver/City of Portland train when it was consolidated into the City of San Francisco/City of Los Angeles/Challenger.  That year of running a stub Chicago-Savanna train with one car likely sucked up much of the 1962 “net gain” right there.

As always, anecdotal observations (like the short-lived “fast” schedule of the XL Special) are meaningless, but in the case of the 1962 “net gain” theory it’s especially ridiculous because the whole fiasco didn’t have to be.  Since UP could not show preference to interchange partners at Council Bluffs (as it could at Fremont or Grand Island), there is every indication that even without the infrastructure enhancements (for passenger trains) on the Milwaukee’s Council Bluffs route the Milwaukee would have received the same amount of freight traffic (one to three trains daily). 

Prior to 1955, the Milwaukee already had the Midwest Hiawatha as a day train as well as the overnight Arrow.  It’s interesting to note that the Midwest Hiawatha was carded (in 1953 as an example) for 8 hours, 45 minutes between Chicago and Omaha with 12 intermediate stops (one of which was Madrid, with a dedicated connecting bus to Des Moines) including setting out cars for its Sioux Falls section in Manilla, IA.  (Pretty impressive, considering on the parallel C&NW, the Cities trains made the Chicago-Omaha trek in 7 hours, 45 minutes to 8 hours, but had as few as 5 and as many as 9 stops.)  After the 1955 reroute, the Midwest Hiawatha was consolidated with the Challenger from Chicago to Omaha (it really was reduced to just Sioux Falls cars adding and setting out at Manilla) and the number of stops cut in half.  But, as stated earlier, this “bonanza” of passenger traffic was short-lived, and with the Challenger being consolidated into the City of Los Angeles in April of 1956 (just 6 months into the reroute, though the trains could be separate seasonally for a few more years), the Midwest Hiawatha was discontinued on April 28,1956, and with it went the convenient, fast daytime service on the route.

So, recapping, this is what the Milwaukee Road got for the millions spent on CTC, additional trackage in the Chicago commuter zone, new locomotives, adding reservations and station personnel, and repainting rolling stock to UP colors:

*No more freight business than they would have received regardless;

*Loss of daytime passenger service earlier than would have been the case without the reroute;

*Capacity for money-losing passenger service which quickly eroded from 6 daily trains to one over 15 ½ years;

*A passenger route considered not worthy of Amtrak service starting in May, 1971.

*The distinction of being the only trans-Iowa freight route to be mostly abandoned in the late 1970s and into 1980.

The epitomization of “Failure”, indeed.

TRR

In fact, between 1968 and 1977 the Milwaukee Road's Lines East, in concert with all other Midwest railroads, lost 35% of its traffic, mostly high revenue. During that same time period, despite the completion of the Interstate Highway System, Milwaukee Road Lines West gained 41% in traffic, virtually all high revenue, long haul.

Percentages are irrelevant.  With regard to “Lines West”, when you have a railroad which runs only one or two trains a day, pretty much ANY increase in traffic would be noticeable.  That’s the way math works.  As for “Lines East” and the repetitive claim of the burden it was on the Milwaukee Road, it’s amazing how much of it endures 41 years after the demise of “Lines West.” 

TRR

And why should he know anything about the Milwaukee Road? Railroad history and economics was never his railroad job, nor part of his education.

And Mr. Sol knows this how?

TRR

And Appendix K was controversial. When first submitted, it showed heavy losses for Lines West. Well, that made sense if they were trying to abandon it. But, the ICC's Office of Rail Public Counsel -- which had been set up to safeguard the "public's interest" in railroad matters -- through their auditor, David Smith, found out, "oops," the Milwaukee had been able to show losses ONLY by double-entering expenses. In that fashion, and after that correction, Appendix K showed ... profitability, right through 1977.

Except that the “profitability” didn’t include the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance over the two previous decades which ensured the railroad’s demise, nor did it included similar amounts that would be necessary to achieve long-term sustainability, such as infrastructure improvements to be competitive with all the other railroads providing service in the Upper Midwest-to-Pacific Northwest corridor.  Since the Milwaukee Road never made these expenditures, they logically could not be considered a liability until it all came crashing down after the 1977 bankruptcy.  Profitable?  Not a chance.

TRR

At the ICC Hearings for the Northern Lines merger, the Northern Lines testified as follows:

"Anticipated improvements in freight schedules are based mainly on the consolidation of terminal facilities at common points and the use of the shortest of most efficient internal routes available to the unified company. Applicants indicate that the New Company would establish through transcontinental freight routes over the shortest available lines and the most favorable grades. Appli­cants gave numerous examples of improved freight schedules that could be established following consummation of the mergers. For example, applicants indicated that the fastest schedule of the Great Northern from Seattle to Chicago would be reduced by the New Company from 94 hours and 15 minutes to 82 hours and 30 minutes or 11 hours-~d45 minutes faster than the present schedule. The fastest transcontinental eastbound train of the Northern Pacific leaves Seattle at 9:00 p. m. and arrives Chicago 12:15 p. m. on the 5th day, a total elapsed time of 97 hours and 15 minutes. After unification, the departure time would beE':30 p.m. and arrival time at Chicago would be 10:30 a.m. on the morning of the 8th day, a total elapsed time of 84 hours, or 13 hours less than present schedule" 328 ICC 474 (1966)

https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/ICC/NothernLinesDecision1966.pdf

At that time, on that date, the Milwaukee was running #261 on a 55 hour schedule, and #262 on a 59 hour schedule. The ICC denied the merger. The Northern Lines panicked. Absolutely panicked. And, just a glance at what was happening to, for instance, the Northern Pacific shows why. It was in full "failure" mode, and all of its land grants had been tied up, ultimately for the duration of J.P. Morgan's "NP Bonds" -- 100 years. They HAD TO HAVE THAT MERGER! In desperation, the Northern Lines Merger Committee quickly agreed to the Milwaukee Road's proposed conditions. Warren Ploeger had put together those conditions in his Seattle Office, as Western General Counsel. They were designed to transform the West, and they did.

As a point of reality, CB&Q and GN were operating train 97 from Chicago to Seattle in 61.5 hours starting in early 1964, not the 94.25 hours stated in the testimony.  By 1968, CB&Q/GN matched the running time of the XL Special, and in 1971 offered a schedule 5.5 hours shorter, while the Milwaukee gave up and lengthened its schedule.  Again, service sustainability was something that was hardly a Milwaukee Road trademark in later years.  So, the document is questionable in its accuracy or whether it was contemporary.  It is interesting that the document that does note “expedited schedules require the use of shorter and lighter trains,” a fact that made the XL Special much more costly to operate than the competition on GN and later, BN.

The “Northern Lines” were hardly panicking.  After all, in the end, the CB&Q, GN, NP, and SP&S were permanently liked with joint-ownership of most of the assets, and few doubted it would be consummated eventually – unlike the Milwaukee Road, which was such an unpalatable piece of real estate (until the albatross of Lines West was jettisoned) that no one wanted to merge with it or purchase it.  And we all know that this, too, had been an ongoing project. 

And, transform the West?  Hardly.  Even at its apex in 1973, the Milwaukee was dispatching a faction of the trains that BN routinely did and still an insignificant percentage of overall traffic from the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Southwest considering all the carriers.  But given the lengthening of the Milwaukee’s schedules and continued non-investment in infrastructure, the modicum of additional business did have a negative affect on the Milwaukee Road.

TRR

Actually you did say there was no plan, that no one stepped forward with one, and no one had any proposal. That claim was another complete fabrication. At the insistence of the general public, shippers, employees and the States, the Milwaukee Railroad Restructuring Act provided explicity for the creation of an umbrella organization to represent those interests. http://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/MilwaukeeRoadRestructuringAct.pdf


Actually, I didn’t say that.  Specifically, my post on May 10 said, “I never said there wasn’t a plan, I said there wasn’t one with the wherewithal to save the Pacific Extension, and since this plan was rejected, and the Pacific Extension was largely abandoned, this is irrefutable.”
 
Mr. Sol is like someone who gets pulled over at a traffic stop with an expired license.  In his world, telling the officer that “I had a really good plan to get my license renewed” is the same thing as getting a new license.  In the real world, you can no longer legally drive.  Not only does productivity rely on a plan being carried to fruition, but reputation can matter as to whether the plan is regarded as having value from the outset.  In both cases, the NewMil plan was lacking.

TRR

The Plan was detailed. The Chair was Paul Schmechel, a friend of mine, who was President of the Montana Power Company, and of the Western Energy Company. The President was Bill Brodsky, who had been on the plannng staff at the Milwaukee, knew it well, and later was the founding President of Montana Rail Link. His able assistant was Fred Simpson, who was also on the Milwaukee's planning staff and who confronted Trustee Stanley Hill who had asserted, early on, that the "Pacific Extension must go."

Simpson pushed back. That was NOT what the "numbers said." Hillman just sat there. Few people dared to challenge Stanley E.G. Hillman. At one point the Company joke was the the "E.G." stood for "Everything Goes!" But, confronted, Hillman just sat there. Finally, he mumbled "Better minds than yours have looked at this!" By whom he meant Worthington Smith and Paul Cruikshank. Simpson got up, walked out the door, and returned to Bainbridge Island to practice law.

To his credit, and his own dismay, when Hillman got his "outside studies" back, he saw that Simpson had been correct. Hillman ruefully, but publicly, conceded, "It turns out that the Milwaukee Road is a relatively wealthy company!" And, for the most part, stopped speaking to WLS and PFC. The way PFC phrased it to me was "Mr. Hillman became difficult to work with." I'll bet he did! But it was too late to turn back the Pacific Extension abandonment. Hillman got an ulcer and promptly quit.

Well, if the Milwaukee was “relatively” wealthy, then there are numerous disconnects between the company losing hundreds of millions of dollars at the end, its wealth, and the need for handouts from the government.

What’s really unimpressive about the NewMil proposal is how few people were actually involved in creating it.  Simpson is on record as claiming a conspiracy, which is fine, but the reality is that when one looks at the scores and scores of Milwaukee Road, Burlington Northern, and Union Pacific company officers (as well as hundreds of other railroaders throughout the years) that intimately knew the Milwaukee Road, the only logical conclusion is that IF the Milwaukee’s Lines West was this lurking railroad powerhouse touted ad nauseum by Mr. Sol and suggested in the NewMil document, there would certainly be many, many more who signed up and signed on.  The list of members of the Board of Directors and Officers is quite unimpressive considering the breadth of the project and the number of states it would impact.  An example:  Arthur Kane, the president of the Knife River Coal Mining Company:  With the Milwaukee serving the mine at Gascoyne, ND, his interest is obvious.  But from a coal standpoint (touted in the document), the president of a LIGNITE coal company does not inspire confidence.  The Gascoyne-Big Stone coal train was an anomaly of sorts since lignite is rarely hauled any distance (and coal source was replaced with sub-bituminous coal from Montana and Wyoming later and to this day).  For a railroad that would stretch from Louisville to Pacific Coast, one would expect much more prestigious people on the list, as well as others from the Milwaukee Road.  Seriously, why should we believe that people like Messrs. Simpson and Brodsky were right and all the many, many, many others not?  (I mean, other than the conspiracy, but even then there needs to be a reason for one.)  And by the way, who were the others in the “consortium of experienced railroad executives” (as stated by Mr. Sol) who authored the NewMil plan but who were not mentioned?

TRR

The ICC had observed, in its ultimate 1968 approval of the Burlington Northern Merger, that "the elimination of intercarrier routing barriers and the strengthening of Milwaukee were sin qua non elements in our approval of the merger." 348 ICC 132. "Spokane, Portland and Seattle -- Control" July 28, 1975.

Maybe.  Indeed, the Burlington Northern merger hurt the Milwaukee, but there’s no reason to believe that the Milwaukee would have survived without the BN merger.  Without the BN merger, the Milwaukee would not have seen an uptick in business and would have likely continued at its 1 or 2 trains-per-day traffic level.  New traffic to and from Portland, as an example, was a Catch-22 for the Milwaukee.  Had the BN merger not happened, the Milwaukee would have been shutout of this critical gateway location.  As it was, it likely didn’t make any money on what it did receive due to the circuity and poor operating profile of its route.  The question is not whether the NP “Had to have that merger;” rather, it’s whether the Milwaukee did and if it mattered.

Regardless of a BN merger or not, trains would have continued to get longer and heavier, and this would have had a negative affect the Milwaukee which made almost no improvements on its infrastructure to accommodate, and had the high-cost operating profile.  The Roberts Bank coal port would still be accessed by GN trackage (and not the Milwaukee) and more and more grain would gravitate to Columbia River ports, as is the case today.  The NP and GN would have water-level access to these ports as well as Seattle and Tacoma via their SP&S subsidiary.  The GN route would certainly capture much of the grain business in Montana (as is the case today) due to its superior profile, and likely would even make more inroads in Milwaukee territory in South Dakota.  Other than Seattle and Tacoma, the Milwaukee didn’t serve many important traffic origination stations or served them badly.  Great Northern, specifically, would be least affected by no BN merger as it had by far the superior transcontinental profile in the Western U.S., and through its subsidiaries had single-carrier service from Vancouver, BC to California for the interchange to the WP/ATSF. 

TRR

There is a documented, well-developed record available.

The Final Proposed Reorganization Plan, that Meyer denied existed, can be found here. http://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/NewMilwaukeeLines.pdf

They had four weeks to put the thing together, and, frankly, did a yeoman job of it. But, it was not enough. As Tom Ploss pointed out, "for the first time, the ICC established a required prediction of profitability exceeding 10%." Only one railroad in the country met that brand-new criteria. The Chair if the ICC, Darius Gaskins, conceded to Bill Brodsky, that "It was the most difficult decision we had to make while I was at the ICC."

Again, thanks to Mr. Sol for making these documents available at his website to prove that the demise of the Milwaukee’s Lines West was a logical end to its existence. 

Hand-in-glove with the NewMil proposal is this one from the ICC that documents its many flaws:

https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/NewMilICC%20Opinion.pdf

If the 10% profitability seemed excessive, that is nothing compared to the unreasonably high expectations of the creators of the NewMil document.  Most notable were overzealous traffic growth during the 1980s which never happened and was predicted not to happen (by the ICC)  and an expected operating ratio on par with the lowest in the country at the time: Union Pacific.  The ICC found that NewMil could satisfy only one of the five necessary criteria to assume operation of the railroad.  Summarizing other flaws in the plan (only a summary not to repeat my earlier post): unrealistic traffic growth, expecting to steal business from the competition with superior infrastructure, and no money to upgrade the Milwaukee’s inferior infrastructure.  The document touts grain movements to Columbia River ports, which the Milwaukee served so poorly, as well as “bright” future for coal movements even though Lines West had only one on-line (lignite) coal mine and didn’t have access to the lone coal port in the region.  The Milwaukee didn’t serve the Powder River Basin mines and likely wouldn’t have had the financial wherewithal to build to it (that, and fix its own infrastructure).  The Tongue River railroad was never built and never would be, and when a railroad was built to tap coal near Roundup, it is shipped largely overseas (via a port not accessed by the Milwaukee) as it’s generally undesirable for (thermal generation) consumption in the U.S. (bituminous).  Even the “Louisville Transcon” aspect ignored that already Southern (the only railroad that mattered in Louisville as L&N already had its own route to Chicago) and L&N were already doing run-through trains to BN at Centralia and Woodlawn in Illinois which sent traffic right to BN’s hump yard in Galesburg, avoiding Chicago.
 
But to sum up the ICC’s dismissal of the NewMil proposal in one word:  Sustainability.  The NewMil report did not describe an operation capable of sustaining itself, and it was obvious.
 
But I believe the ICC didn’t go far enough.  For instance, it should have also asked:
 
*Where will additional funding be received to lengthen sidings to accommodate the longer trains (which the competition is already running, but that NewMil couldn’t without lengthening)?
*Where will additional funding be received to improve meet/pass capacity to allow for increased traffic and to prepare for cabooseless operation?  (power switches, or less expensive but less effective spring switches)
*Where will additional funding be received to place block signals between Plummer and Marengo?  (safety priority)
*Where will additional funding be received to install lineside failed equipment detectors?  (already in place on the competition, safety priority)
*Were any of the revenue/traffic projections for the NewMil in the 1980s predicated on the likelihood that deregulation might be likely (to be known as the Staggers Act) and that the competition (mostly BN) would be able to drastically undercut rates compared to the Milwaukee due to an almost-uniformly superior (and less expensive) operating profile?  Examples: Grain train Great Falls to Longview, 100% more expensive via NewMil; Chicago to Portland, five major grades on NewMil versus zero on BN); Seattle to Chicago, four major grades on NewMil versus two on BN).
 
Then there’s the 41 years of hindsight we have going for us today that verify that the NewMil would have defaulted and was unnecessary: 
*Again, the lack of coal business it could have accessed
*Again, the dominance of Columbia River ports (poorly served by a Milwaukee Road) for grain exports
*Little positive traffic gain in the Bakken boom (Milwaukee trackage served only one crude export port – Tacoma, and had no loading locations).
*Could not participate in the huge amount of Canada-to California traffic which materialized
*Seeing the huge increase in container and other traffic through the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert in British Columbia, largely at the expense of Seattle and Tacoma.
 
In summary: Little chance to reclaim even the minimal amount of business handled by the Milwaukee that other railroads gained, and little chance for growing the business.
 
I agree with Gaskins that the decision to deny the NewMil proposal was difficult simply because a “transcontinental” railroad had never been up for abandonment before.  But the 7-0 decision suggests that there was no doubt about the inadequacy of the proposal.  Nor did subsequent parties step up to build upon the proposal to retain Lines West, despite all the supposed employee, shipper, and local government support.  Locally, such as in South Dakota, the state did step in to save many of the Milwaukee’s major routes as the carrier was by far the dominant railroad in the state.  It is logical that in South Dakota, primary Milwaukee Road routes survive because the Milwaukee Road enjoyed so much exclusivity; in Montana and Washington, it was abandoned because it had almost none.
 
So, indeed:  No proposal was submitted with the wherewithal to save the Milwaukee Pacific Extension.
 
--Mark Meyer
 

 

 
TRR
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Posted by TRR on Saturday, June 19, 2021 6:35 PM

Mark Meyer continues to spin fantasies about 1) a railroad he knew nothing about, 2) regading matters that he, personally, had no experience with.

 He brings to mind Groucho Marx's comment to an annoying writer who wrote a book and sent it to Groucho to read. Groucho's response: "I received your book. Thank you for sending it. I couldn't stop laughing. Some day I intend on reading it."

It isn't what Mark Meyer writes that is necessarily so objectionable, but "what he leaves out," i.e. the "other half of the story."

These were Train #261's running times, with its fast, high value, freight.

Per Rob Leachman, who actually does have the experience that Mr. Meyer lacks altogether.

"District Mileage Avg. MPH (incl. work) (excl. work)
Bensenville - Aberdeen 700 42.2 52.2 mph
Aberdeen - Harlowton 629 44.7 46.3 mph
Harlowton - Avery 438 39.8 43.0 mph
Avery - Tide Flats 419 28.2 31.8 mph
 
"You will note, this is a train in mountain territory that is averaging 43 mph in the Rocky Mountains between Harlowton and Avery, over three mountain ranges. A truck would be pushing it to achieve that average.
 
"The 10 mph difference between "includes work" and "excludes work" on the Bensenville-Aberdeen portion -- the largest such difference -- is due to four pickups and the St. Paul fill set-off -- the most "work" of the entire trip, and the blocking done on # 261 flat switching at Aberdeen which took about an hour. This got the train out of Bensenville quickly, and gave it to a yard for which nothing else got in the way."
 
The "longest hauls in the country," with the premium freight. So popular that, in addition to #263 and #264, the pre-existing Hotshots, that beat GN's offerings by 17 hours, the new hotshots, #261 and #262, beat GN's "Best" by over a day. At 3,000 tons, the traffic was so popular that Milwaukee had to add an additional section, each, of #261 AND #261. After that, Milwaukee had to start adding tonnage. From a strict limit of 3,000 tons, to handle the demand, tonnage increased to 4,000 and 5,000 tons AND two additional trains, AND additional sections of #263 and #264.
 
"These were the 8-10 trains per day that the PCE averaged for the remainder of the time before bankruptcy. These were trains that were up to 60% heavier than the trains run during the 1960s, and had MILW stayed with those tonnage limits, the PCE would have been running 14-16 trains per day."
 
After Milwaukee opened its Kent Auto Facility, GN's auto traffic was so depleted, it finally shut down its Seattle auto facility. After Milwaukee opened its Stacy Street Container facility, Milwaukee had over 50% of the Container traffic, as against BN's three mainlines, and the UP.
 
Mr. Miller has, in past, simply fabricated a claim, his one of many, that Milwaukee Road's Lines West "lost money." That was false, and the extant documentation proves it conclusively. In the years 1975, 1976, and 1977, it was the only part of the railroad that made a profit, as compared with the Lines East that was, along with ALL if its Midwestern counterparts, losing money hand-over-fist, hence the desperation in the 3R and 4R Acts.
 
Milwaukee Road

System Net Operating Income
1976: -$8,834,000
1977: -$29,3920,000
1978: -$49,331,000

Lines West
1976: +$10,581,000
1977: +$8,051,000
1978: +3,556,000

Documentation: Milwaukee Petition to Abandon, Exhibit K. https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/ApplicationtoAbandonLinesWestFullDocument.pdf

Lines East alone:
1976: -$19,451,000
1977: -$37,444,000
1978: -$52,887,000

Lines West, Cumulative Net Operating Income, 1976-1978
+$22,187,000
Milwaukee Road, Net Operating Income, 1976-1978, WITHOUT Lines West:
-$109,746,000

Mr. Meyer’s obsession with Milwaukee Road, and its Lines West is bizarre for the several reasons that 1) he had nothing to do with any of that kind of analysis on his own railroad, ever, 2) he has a history of attacking perceived “threats” to the memory of his Father’s beloved Great Northern (his early attack on the perceived "inferiority that NP railfans felt to GN railfans" was a doozy!), and 3) betraying an astonishing ignorance of the actual documented record.

Ok. What is he, then?

Readers have to make up their own minds.
 
So, what to make of Mr. Meyer's claims?
 
"Nothing at all" would be a useful start.
TRR
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Posted by TRR on Saturday, June 19, 2021 7:25 PM
 
Mr. Meyer: "But I believe the ICC didn’t go far enough.  For instance, it should have also asked, ...".
 
Initially, you denied any such proposal to save Lines West had ever been  profitable, or that ANY efforts to save it had happened, at all. What happened to THAT?
 
TRR
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Posted by TRR on Saturday, June 19, 2021 8:05 PM

Mark Meyer: "Examples: Grain train Great Falls to Longview, 100% more expensive via NewMil; Chicago to Portland, five major grades on NewMil versus zero on BN); Seattle to Chicago, four major grades on NewMil versus two on BN).:

We don't actually know that. You made it up.

What we DO know is that no shipper would make a decision the way that Mark Meyer proposes. Why would they?

Mark Meyer has never "shipped" an ounce of freight in his entire life.

 

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • From: Harrison Township, Michigan
  • 1,233 posts
Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Saturday, June 19, 2021 8:42 PM
 

TRR

After Milwaukee opened its Stacy Street Container facility, Milwaukee had over 50% of the Container traffic, as against BN's three mainlines, and the UP.

 
Has Seattle ever been a competitive port for containers in the PNW? For the West Coast period? You also fail to realize UP has access to the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Port of Oakland which has always produced substantial TEU loading for UP vs. The Port of Seattle... Considering Seattle has small dislocated terminals in its Port district. Which dock(s) was this +50% loading coming from? T5? T18? It seems you're not familiar with the inefficient operations at the port of Seattle.. 
 

TRR

Mark Meyer: "Examples: Grain train Great Falls to Longview, 100% more expensive via NewMil; Chicago to Portland, five major grades on NewMil versus zero on BN); Seattle to Chicago, four major grades on NewMil versus two on BN).:

We don't actually know that. You made it up.

What we DO know is that no shipper would make a decision the way that Mark Meyer proposes. Why would they?

Mark Meyer has never "shipped" an ounce of freight in his entire life.

 

 

The same could be said about you as well... CP for example had a thing called the Rogers Pass Project back in the 80's for a reason... A key role in moving freight is using the least amount of assets to move as much as possible from point A to B. Which requires a low grade efficient routing... Facts say the Milwaukee did not have that..

 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by Vermontanan2 on Monday, June 21, 2021 12:01 AM
TRR
These were Train #261's running times, with its fast, high value, freight.
"District Mileage Avg. MPH (incl. work) (excl. work)
Bensenville - Aberdeen 700 42.2 52.2 mph
Aberdeen - Harlowton 629 44.7 46.3 mph
Harlowton - Avery 438 39.8 43.0 mph
Avery - Tide Flats 419 28.2 31.8 mph
 
"You will note, this is a train in mountain territory that is averaging 43 mph in the Rocky Mountains between Harlowton and Avery, over three mountain ranges. A truck would be pushing it to achieve that average.
 
"The 10 mph difference between "includes work" and "excludes work" on the Bensenville-Aberdeen portion -- the largest such difference -- is due to four pickups and the St. Paul fill set-off -- the most "work" of the entire trip, and the blocking done on # 261 flat switching at Aberdeen which took about an hour. This got the train out of Bensenville quickly, and gave it to a yard for which nothing else got in the way."
 
The "longest hauls in the country," with the premium freight. So popular that, in addition to #263 and #264, the pre-existing Hotshots, that beat GN's offerings by 17 hours, the new hotshots, #261 and #262, beat GN's "Best" by over a day. At 3,000 tons, the traffic was so popular that Milwaukee had to add an additional section, each, of #261 AND #261. After that, Milwaukee had to start adding tonnage. From a strict limit of 3,000 tons, to handle the demand, tonnage increased to 4,000 and 5,000 tons AND two additional trains, AND additional sections of #263 and #264.
What’s this, the fourth time in this thread Mr. Sol has repeated this?  Doesn’t matter, just like the other times.  The “fast” 261 (XL Special) train debuted in late 1963.  By early 1964, GN’s running time was within 6 hours (with a much heavier train), and matched (with a much heavier train) the Milwaukee’s schedule by 1968.  And, unlike the Milwaukee, the GN didn’t need to discontinue its passenger trains to do it.  By 1971, BN started a Chicago-Seattle train (3) which was 5 hours faster than the XL Special and an even faster sister train (23) by 1973.  In Mr. Sol’s world, evidently, if you field the fastest train once, you’re the speed champion for all time.  Whatever he wants to think.  But as we all know, the Milwaukee’s biggest failure was its inability to sustain its traffic.
TRR
"These were the 8-10 trains per day that the PCE averaged for the remainder of the time before bankruptcy. These were trains that were up to 60% heavier than the trains run during the 1960s, and had MILW stayed with those tonnage limits, the PCE would have been running 14-16 trains per day."
Mr. Sol seems to not comprehend that this is not a big deal, and is, in reality, a reflection of the inferiority of the Milwaukee Road.  First of all, 60% of 3,000 tons is only 1,800, so a 4,800-ton train is not a big train, and it’s even smaller than GN and BN were routinely operating on its train 97 (the train that matched the Milwaukee’s running time in 1968).  Secondly, when confronted with this additional traffic, the Milwaukee couldn’t keep the running time of train 261, and that’s when its “hot” train became significantly slower than what GN and BN offered.  The difference was that BN maintained the faster service compared to the competition – aka proven sustainability - which means something even today, unlike the “hot 261” “one-off.”  The difference here is obvious:  When GN and later BN offered the faster service, they did it without compromising their other service; on the Milwaukee, something had to give:  Discontinue the passenger train to accommodate a fast freight train; slowing the fast train to accommodate more traffic due to inadequate infrastructure.  Claiming something to be a success when it’s really an indication of weakness, might work for awhile, but the failure is obvious when your physical plant succumbs to ongoing deferred maintenance, your schedules are fattened, and, finally, no one steps in to fix it, and the railroad is abandoned.
TRR
After Milwaukee opened its Kent Auto Facility, GN's auto traffic was so depleted, it finally shut down its Seattle auto facility. After Milwaukee opened its Stacy Street Container facility, Milwaukee had over 50% of the Container traffic, as against BN's three mainlines, and the UP.
Which would be really impressive if the Milwaukee kept the traffic, but it couldn’t.  And the auto traffic and container traffic was only a fraction of the traffic out of the Pacific Northwest.  BN was still dispatching 4 or 5 times the daily trains that the Milwaukee was (at the peak).  Vancouver, BC, Portland, the Willamette Valley, Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Lewiston, Anacortes, Wenatchee, Colville, Waneta/Trail and Bremerton are all significant sources of traffic in the Pacific Northwest (and Canadian Southwest) which the Milwaukee served poorly, expensively, or – and mostly – not at all.  But that tonnage-restricted train 261 was sure fast for a couple of years, wasn’t it? 
TRR
Mr. Miller has, in past, simply fabricated a claim, his one of many, that Milwaukee Road's Lines West "lost money."
Yeah, that Mr. Miller guy always says that.
TRR
That was false, and the extant documentation proves it conclusively. In the years 1975, 1976, and 1977, it was the only part of the railroad that made a profit, as compared with the Lines East that was, along with ALL if its Midwestern counterparts, losing money hand-over-fist, hence the desperation in the 3R and 4R Acts.
 
Milwaukee Road

System Net Operating Income
1976: -$8,834,000
1977: -$29,3920,000
1978: -$49,331,000

Lines West
1976: +$10,581,000
1977: +$8,051,000
1978: +3,556,000

Documentation: Milwaukee Petition to Abandon, Exhibit K. https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/Bankruptcy/ApplicationtoAbandonLinesWestFullDocument.pdf

Lines East alone:
1976: -$19,451,000
1977: -$37,444,000
1978: -$52,887,000

Lines West, Cumulative Net Operating Income, 1976-1978
+$22,187,000
Milwaukee Road, Net Operating Income, 1976-1978, WITHOUT Lines West:
-$109,746,000
Mr. Sol is going to break the “cut-and-paste” feature of his keyboard if he rolls out these figures one more time.  Seen it all before, over and over.
But even if you believe the three-year $22 million “profit”, it’s a pittance compared to what the authors of the NewMil plan said they would need to revive the railroad:  Over $906 million (new year at Fife, physical plant rehabilitation, and equipment rehabilitation).  And, this doesn’t include anything for upgrades, such as safety equipment (block signals or CTC, power switches, lineside failed equipment detectors), or additions to capacity (siding lengthening, second main tracks, etc.) to make railroad not only sustainable, but to attempt to capture new business.  So no, when you don’t keep up your assets to continue in business, you don’t get to claim a “profit”, especially when the whole thing crashes and burns two years later.
This reminds me of a friend whose 20-something kid was doing the UberEats and Doordash delivery thing during the height of the pandemic.  He was “making so much money on it.”  But when asked (by the parent) how much he was putting aside for a new car in the future (as he was racking up the miles on the current vehicle), the response expression was akin to a deer in the headlights.  And, of course with things opening up, not as much business as people are again going out to eat.  But, he, too “was making a profit” at the time. 
Meanwhile on the Milwaukee’s Lines East (or at least east of Terry, Montana) some 41 years after the abandonment of Lines West, things on the “money losing” part of the Milwaukee Road appear to be stable with most routes remaining intact.  BNSF ended up buying lines rescued by the state of South Dakota, and numerous suitors were in place for the railroad east of there in 1985.  Wanting to merge and or buy a large chunk of the Milwaukee Road never happened before.  What could have changed?  The jettisoning of the Pacific Extension, of course.
TRR
Mr. Meyer: "But I believe the ICC didn’t go far enough.  For instance, it should have also asked, ...".

Initially, you denied any such proposal to save Lines West had ever been profitable, or that ANY efforts to save it had happened, at all. What happened to THAT?
I stand by that.  Can’t be profitable if the physical plant and rolling stock is in decay.  Granted, it was a Catch-22 with the Milwaukee in a way.  It didn’t have the money to keep its railroad maintained like the competition, but even if it had – somehow – its vastly inferior profile would have led to its eventual doom when deregulation allowed other railroads to lower rates and severely undercut the Milwaukee in price, diminishing even more their already thin slice-of-the-pie in the region as a whole.
And when I stated that no plan saved the Pacific Extension or that there was no plan with the financial wherewithal to save the Pacific Extension….. Well, those are indisputable.  The railroad didn’t survive.
And why anyone is so hellbent concerned with the semantics of the acknowledgement of the plan is obviously secondary to that the plan Mr. Sol seems to support was summarily rejected by the ICC (as was the unlikelihood of saving the railroad in general in congressional and other testimony earlier).  And, it is additionally interesting that when the plan was announced, no one presented another, or even hinted that the plan could be tweaked or changed to make it successful.  Again, just because there was a plan, it wasn’t a GOOD plan, and it wasn’t a plan that the vast majority of stakeholders thought could work.
TRR
Mark Meyer: "Examples: Grain train Great Falls to Longview, 100% more expensive via NewMil; Chicago to Portland, five major grades on NewMil versus zero on BN); Seattle to Chicago, four major grades on NewMil versus two on BN).:
We don't actually know that. You made it up.
And I challenge Mr. Sol (or anyone) to prove otherwise (including the braintrust of the NewMil proposal, if any are still with us), and state their standing in the industry when doing so.  Especially as it’s so easily verified.  Since this is a Kalmbach forum, and that the material is undoubtedly copyrighted, I won’t copy-and-paste, but know that the profiles of the GN, MILW, NP and UP between the Midwest and Pacific Northwest are documented on pages 44 and 45 of the April 2004 issue of TRAINS magazine.  The only thing that is missing for the Milwaukee is showing the horrendous 3.6 percent grade westward over Tacoma Hill on the route to Portland.  Pretty much all anyone would need to is count the number of apexes of severe grades (over 1%) on the profiles as shown.  Another resource to verify the inferiority of the Milwaukee’s route is on page 145 of Earl J. Currie’s book “James J. Hill’s Legacy to Railway Operations.”  The book lists the grades in text form for all these railroads (plus CP and CN in Western Canada) on page 175.  The book is a great reference as to operating characteristics and why they matter.  Still available on Amazon.
As for the grain train from Great Falls to Longview, that data is available here:
The document includes ACTUAL fuel use data from BNSF.  (And it’s actually a grain train to Tacoma, since the Milwaukee delivering a 16,000-ton grain train to Longview – or any port south of Tacoma – never could happen due to the Tacoma Hill grade.)  The comparison for a Milwaukee Road train could not be done in present day, since the Pacific Extension is long gone.  But the simulation was done using programming actually used and was actually performed by BNSF in Fort Worth.  Not hard to do, as one simply would input components of a railroad (mileage, grade, curvature).  While performing the task for a now non-existent railroad, it’s no different than speculating on costs the competition must endure by inputting their operating characteristics – it’s nothing really unusual.  In other words, a real world system, used in by real railroad in current (when the website was created) time. 
The locomotive use of course was current for BNSF, and speculative for the Milwaukee.  That’s not only because it largely isn’t around, but the simulation involved current train sizes, much larger than the Milwaukee ever operated.  Also noted is that due to the horrible profile of “Lines West,” multiple options exist as to how to move the traffic, i.e. whether to full-power the train (enough power to handle from origin to destination) or cut and add power (helper situation).  In both cases, this reflected actual previous Milwaukee Road operations in that there were helpers at places like Beverly, Butte, and Avery, but often the trains were simply powered to avoid the necessity (and delay) to cut and add power en route.  This was the case with XL Special, which was powered to 9,000 HP from Chicago through to destination without any modifications.  Both full-powering and using helpers bring into mix different costs.  The only thing that is a constant is that the Milwaukee Road was by far the higher-cost option.
TRR
What we DO know is that no shipper would make a decision the way that Mark Meyer proposes. Why would they?
Mark Meyer has never "shipped" an ounce of freight in his entire life.
Wrong on both accounts, and again, I challenge you to prove otherwise.  But I have loaded cars, billed cars, coopered cars, distributed cars, directed assembly of cars into trains, managed locomotives and crews to handle such cars, and worked with scores of shippers during my railroad career.  I await Mr. Sol’s resume of similar involvement.
--Mark Meyer
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Posted by Vermontanan2 on Monday, June 21, 2021 12:02 AM
SD60MAC9500
The same could be said about you as well... CP for example had a thing called the Rogers Pass Project back in the 80's for a reason... A key role in moving freight is using the least amount of assets to move as much as possible from point A to B. Which requires a low grade efficient routing... Facts say the Milwaukee did not have that..
Very true.  The Milwaukee Road was indeed the high-cost route to the Pacific Northwest.  The NP might have been a close second, but its access to the water-level SP&S route through the Cascades would make it preferable, as is the case today.  The UP’s route between Glenns Ferry, Idaho and Pendleton, Oregon is very challenging (multiple grades between 1.5 and 2.2%), but at least it’s confined to a 350-mile segment (if one uses No. 3 track over Sherman Hill.)
The Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension was basically an 800+mile helper district between Harlowton, Montana and Seattle/Tacoma.  With 5 major grades (six, for anything destined to Grays Harbor, Longview, Kalama, Vancouver or Portland), they are spaced far enough apart as to require separate helper locations or require using large quantities of power for the entire 800+-mile trek.  Even the much-touted crossing of Snoqualmie Pass (westward grade only .7%) is of little practical benefit because the eastward grade of 1.74% would require reciprocal locomotive repositioning to balance the supply of power. 
The ex-GN and current BNSF (with some ex-NP and SP&S) route through Montana, Idaho, Washington, and to Portland has not only fewer grades, but the infrastructure allows the most-efficient power rotation.  All heavy unit trains avoid the heavy grades of the Cascades operating along the Columbia River and then go either north or south at Vancouver, WA to destination.  For those operating over the Cascades between Wenatchee and Seattle or Tacoma (mostly intermodal), supplemental power for the hill is confined to a 200-mile area.  Some power on eastward trains is cut at Wenatchee (where the grade moderates to Essex, Montana), and is added to westward trains (which in general need little additional power to reach Wenatchee from origin) and more or less stays in the loop; the major hill in Montana is Marias Pass which is a very short westward 1.2% grade (grade was actually slightly increased due to a line change in the mid-1960s) and requires no helpers.  Eastward trains face 14 miles of 1.8% grade from east of Essex at Java to Summit, but unlike all the other steep grades on the ex-NP and really ex-MILW (and Cascade Tunnel), this segment has two main tracks, as is the case west of Java.  Helpers are added at Essex and cut at Summit where there is no tunnel at the summit.  Two main tracks to the summit and no helper on the east slope almost guarantee that helpers are not delayed returning to Essex for subsequent helps – an extremely fast and efficient rotation.  Contrast this to the Milwaukee grades at Pipestone Pass (2% west and 1.66% east), St. Paul Pass (1.7% each side), the Saddle Mountains (2.2% west and 1.6% east) and Snoqualmie Pass (.7% west and 1.74% east) which are ALL single track (no power switches) and all have a tunnel at summit.  While the actual amount of power on all railroad operations depends on demand at destination or intermediate modification points, it’s easy to see that helper operations on the Milwaukee Road at all these locations would be a nightmare, and likely would entail (as they did when used) continuing all the way down the grade on the opposing side for fluidity and the next help.  It’s easy to see why the Milwaukee often chose to use a full complement of power for long distances rather than helpers simply to avoid the delay and occupation of track space when cutting and adding helper power at multiple locations.  But with extra power for long distances comes additional cost.  But probably less cost that multiple multiple manned helper districts and the associated cost of delay modifying locomotive consists.
Addressing SD60MAC9500’s comment: With the growth in grain and coal shipments, the construction of the Mount MacDonald tunnel (Rogers Pass) in the mid-to-late 1980s by Canadian Pacific was a necessity.  It reduced the ruling grade from 2.2% to 1% for westward and eastward trains.  The cost was $600 million. (Kicking Horse Pass, on the Alberta-BC border is 1% west but still 2.4% east.)
Of course, huge differences between the CP venture and the “what if” MILW exist:
*The CP could afford to make the investment; the MILW struggled to keep the railroad running, much less invest in the future, making few infrastructure improvements to its main line, nor even rudimentary safety expenditures.
*The CP had/has a high degree of exclusivity.  Southwestern Saskatchewan, Southern Alberta, and the coal-producing area around Sparwood in British Columbia, exclusively the domain of CP.  A guaranteed traffic source.
*The Rogers Pass improvement (albeit $600 million worth) was a one-and-done.  Which severe grades would the Milwaukee fix?  Pipestone? St. Paul? Saddles?  There ain’t no fixing Tacoma Hill and its 3.6% climb. 
*The CP main line allowed access to Vancouver ports.  The MILW served basically only Seattle and Tacoma; history shows that Vancouver is the much larger port.  But while there are many other American ports in the area, access by the Milwaukee was limited.  Anything south of Tacoma to Longview or after 1970 to Portland required traversing ex-logging railroads and Tacoma Hill.  Anything north of Seattle either pre- or post-BN merger was an awkward routing with steep grades.  All definitely not the domain of heavy unit trains.  (While Mr. Sol constantly harps about Kent autos and Seattle container traffic, the reality is that had the Milwaukee a few more years – BN was already running 100-car grain trains by the time the Milwaukee succumbed, however – it would have effectively been shut out of shuttle grain traffic to Aberdeen, Longview, Kalama, Vancouver, WA, Portland and occasionally North Vancouver (BC), as well as other ports developed for Ethanol or crude oil such as Clatskanie, Fidalgo, Arco, and Cherry Point, and the biggie: Roberts Bank, the region’s only coal export facility.  All not Milwaukee-served or served so awkwardly that any traffic the Milwaukee could scrounge would be interchanged with another railroad (BN or UP). 
Indeed, the Mount MacDonald project on CP and the demise of the Milwaukee highlight where investment was acknowledged and executed and where it was deemed unnecessary. 
 
--Mark Meyer
 
 
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Posted by Steven Otte on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 10:37 AM

This thread has too many personal attacks, allegations, and insults to be feasibly cleaned up. Therefore, it's being locked. Next time, try to discuss trains without insulting those you're discussing them with.

--
Steven Otte, Model Railroader associate editor
sotte@kalmbach.com

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