The "Iron Highway": A pointer to future methods of handling TOFC?

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The "Iron Highway": A pointer to future methods of handling TOFC?
Posted by IslandMan on Friday, March 17, 2017 5:48 AM

The Iron Highway was a concept developed by New York Air Brake in the late 80s/early 90s.  If railroads need to gain traffic by catering for smaller loads and shorter hauls, as suggested in "Finding a New Winning Formula", March issue, it might be worth re-examining the Iron Highway and similar ideas.

The Iron Highway was essentially a fixed-formation freight multiple unit, consisting of a rake of articulated platforms powered by a small loco at each end. The middle of the rake could be split into two ramps, allowing circus loading of trailers.  The time to load each multiple unit would be about 45 minutes.  The multiple units could be linked together to form long trains, but the loading time would remain the same. 

The link below gives more info:

www.railmotive.net/23theironhighwayinter.html

 

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, March 17, 2017 7:05 AM

I believe that the Iron Highway was tried out by CP in the Toronto-Montreal corridor.  Like Roadrailers, it's a non-standard arrangement and will probably suffer the same fate, if it hasn't already.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, March 17, 2017 8:18 AM

Still running - even after E. Hunter Harrison !  But now as the "Expressway" brand:

http://www.cpr.ca/en/our-markets/truck-trailers 

http://www.cpr.ca/en/customer-resources/shipping-guides/expressway-operating-guidelines 

More later.

- PDN. 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, March 17, 2017 8:19 AM

I seem to recall that we had a thread here, at one time, the subject was a similar piece of equipment (a small locomotive, and several platform style cars); An engineer,only was assigned to this train.  It was a point to point operaion, from a shipping location to destination, operator was the single engineer.  IIRC, it was being builled as a sort of railroad' truck' operation? and that was the thrust of it use, to be a compeditor for OTR trucking in Europe.  I do not believe it went much frather than a protype, and because it was a specialized piece of equipment, and did not fit the current 'model'. I went away after a short period. 

The closest that is similar is the Herzog MPM ( although,) it is adapted to ROW Maintenance)  the locomotive they use resembles the photos I remember of the European 'railroad truck' power unit(?)

See @        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ui2-sLRbJIA

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by greyhounds on Friday, March 17, 2017 11:24 AM

The Iron Highway evolved into the equipment used by the CP on their Montreal-Toronto Expressway TOFC service.  This is reportedly the only piggyback train in Canada.  

As originally proposed the Iron Highway consisted of one or more self propelled multiple platform articulated flatcars.  Propulsion came from heavy duty diesel truck engines with the drive train including heavy duty truck automatic transmissions.  This power system has been discarded and replaced by conventional locomotives.

Expressway is a TOFC system that uses circus type loading and unloading.  There's nothing wrong with this.  Circus type TOFC (including containers on chassis) intermodal terminals are a good, economical, low capital investment, and efficient fit for smaller volume markets.  The Expressway operation improves over the conventional circus terminal operations by allowing multiple loading/unloading ramps one one track.  This improves the speed of loading/unloading.

Expressway does not suffer from the problems the RoadRailer concept does.  Expressway is entirely compatible with the existing IM network and can readily be used within the network.  It could also be well used to expand the network.  CP is apparently satisfied with the results of its operation on the 340 mile Montreal-Toronto lane.  But I do not see them as having another market suitable for its use.  

I'd like to see an analysis of its potential on a route such as Green Bay-Chicago.  Not so much as a local service, but as a "Feeder" route connecting the manufacturing of the Fox River cities with the IM network in Chicago.

"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
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Posted by RME on Friday, March 17, 2017 11:48 AM

greyhounds
As originally proposed the Iron Highway consisted of one or more self propelled multiple platform articulated flatcars. Propulsion came from heavy duty diesel truck engines with the drive train including heavy duty truck automatic transmissions.

In other words, a sensible evolution of Kneiling's integral train.  With the added spice that the operating model involves an advantage of the train not being an "integrated unit" at loading and unloading points.  (Presumably there would be competent 'hostling' controls that would allow the separable units to be switched to the tracks used for parallel loading/unloading without need for switch engines, and 'today' this would be done with separate -- and unconfusable! -- remote packs...)

There are potential markets - I think central New Jersey is one - where the idea of a train that can be quickly and easily split into self-propelled sections for relatively easy ground ramp loading of trailers makes sense.  I don't think there are enough of these to recoup the considerable capital cost of building and maintaining the Kneiling-style train, even if the gas turbine issue has been removed from the 'equation'.

One demonstrated issue with Iron Highway is that it requires kingpin-hitch securement at the trailer noses.  At least one of these has come unlocked in the all-too-familiar-with-wear-on-the-equipment way and caused the usual problems.  The aftermath of such an event may eat up a great deal of the presumable profit from using Iron Highway instead of, say, expanded conventional containerized intermodal in lieu of van trailers. 

In my opinion there is also the added question of the skills needed by drivers for circus-type loading and unloading when there is a considerable narrow distance to back up between presumably substantial sill rails.  This is not a 'kangarou' system with bearing surface between the trailer duals, so presumably scuffing the trailer outer sidewalls is the 'default' guidance backup.  With the current 'driver shortage' are there enough skilled or trainable drivers to make an expansion of Expressway safe and practical?

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Posted by IslandMan on Friday, March 17, 2017 4:21 PM

greyhounds

Expressway is a TOFC system that uses circus type loading and unloading.  There's nothing wrong with this.  Circus type TOFC (including containers on chassis) intermodal terminals are a good, economical, low capital investment, and efficient fit for smaller volume markets.  The Expressway operation improves over the conventional circus terminal operations by allowing multiple loading/unloading ramps one one track.  This improves the speed of loading/unloading.

Expressway does not suffer from the problems the RoadRailer concept does.  Expressway is entirely compatible with the existing IM network and can readily be used within the network.  It could also be well used to expand the network.  CP is apparently satisfied with the results of its operation on the 340 mile Montreal-Toronto lane.  But I do not see them as having another market suitable for its use.  

I'd like to see an analysis of its potential on a route such as Green Bay-Chicago.  Not so much as a local service, but as a "Feeder" route connecting the manufacturing of the Fox River cities with the IM network in Chicago.

 

 

Yes, circus loading does avoid the need for cranes and because trucks are not lifted, anything that is fit to run on a highway can be loaded onto a train.  This straight away makes the concept more attractive to the trucking industry.

Iron Highway/Expressway avoids the time penalty of circus loading of a long train by splitting the train into modules which can be loaded independently. The loading time for the complete train is the same whether there are 1, 10 or 20 modules. For Iron Highway the loading time per module was 45 minutes.  If it were possible to design a modular train in which each car had a ramp which could be swung out at a loading terminal the loading time would be even less (go on inventors, take up this challenge!).

At the time the Iron Highway concept was being developed, the US rail industry (i) had a backlog of maintenance and capital investment, following near-bankruptcy pre-Staggers; (ii) was involved in merger programs and network reshaping post Staggers; (iii) had plenty of potential traditional rail business such as coal and steel, and (iv) for intermodal, was investing in container trains (including double-stack after the mid 1980s).  In other words, US railroads were too busy reinventing themselves to handle existing traffics more efficiently to bother investing in completely new methods of winning traffic in unfamiliar markets.

The situation now is rather different.  Rail cannot rely on just handling bulk traffics in unit trains.  Something like Expressway, or Iron Highway, that could capture short-haul traffic could be the future.

 
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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, March 17, 2017 4:50 PM

Expressway works because it caters primarily to truckers and a few large shippers who own their own equipment. I don't think the average shipper with loads to move in this corridor would consider Expressway as truck rates in both directions have always been rock bottom cheap. Truckers on the other hand can effectively move several of these cheap loads with one tractor and driver.. i.e. they take two loads to the railhead to ship via Expressway to Montreal and take load number 3 down the road to Montreal. Once in Montreal the driver delivers load 3 and then goes to the Expressway terminal to pickup and deliver the other two loads. The trucker thereby maximizes use of driver and equipment. Shippers generally can't do that unless they too run their own trucks..I think its a great idea and could probably work in other densely travelled corridors. 

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Posted by CShaveRR on Friday, March 17, 2017 5:09 PM

When CP was first involved with the Iron Highway, there was also a Toronto-Chicago operation (west of the border it used the former C&O to get into the Chicago area).  Initially it used some specially-modified TTX flat cars, but I saw the specialized Iron Highway cars (IHXX) on at least one occasion.  The Chicago-area terminal for this was in a small former B&O yard in East Chicago, Indiana (just east of the Hammond city limits), along Indiana Highway 312.  This leg didn't seem to last as long...perhaps the circuitous CSX route (via Grand Rapids, initially) did it in.  I wasn't following it that closely, but all of a sudden it was gone.

Carl

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Posted by traisessive1 on Friday, March 17, 2017 8:02 PM

CP's Expressway service is indeed the only regular MAINLINE piggyback service in Canada. You will sometimes see a few chassis being moved from west to east on CN and they will attach them to containers to do so. 

The ONR and HBR both do piggyback in their Northern Ontario and Northern Manitoba operations. 

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, March 17, 2017 9:23 PM

That was the service proposed by a group who darn near got the Canada Southern. They went one step further adding sleeping cars and a diner for the truckers who went along. The line was perfectly engineered for this kind of thing, long tangents, level to near 0 grade with cut and fill when it was built and long easy curves, all the way from Detroit to Buffalo...a high speed line through rural agricultural landscapes. Overnight service both ways with morning arrivals. 

Unfortunately the "fix"was in ...at around the fifth "town hall" style public meeting, all hell broke loose and fisticuffs broke out. 

The proposal was sound but they never had a chance. CN and CP saw to it. 

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Posted by greyhounds on Saturday, March 18, 2017 12:11 AM

RME
One demonstrated issue with Iron Highway is that it requires kingpin-hitch securement at the trailer noses.  At least one of these has come unlocked in the all-too-familiar-with-wear-on-the-equipment way and caused the usual problems.  The aftermath of such an event may eat up a great deal of the presumable profit from using Iron Highway instead of, say, expanded conventional containerized intermodal in lieu of van trailers.  In my opinion there is also the added question of the skills needed by drivers for circus-type loading and unloading when there is a considerable narrow distance to back up between presumably substantial sill rails.  This is not a 'kangarou' system with bearing surface between the trailer duals, so presumably scuffing the trailer outer sidewalls is the 'default' guidance backup.  With the current 'driver shortage' are there enough skilled or trainable drivers to make an expansion of Expressway safe and practical?

Oh pshaw!

The kingpin hitch has been in use for 60 years or so.  It holds on in train wrecks, TOFC cars sent over humps, and overspeed impacts.  If all rail components were nearly as reliable as a hitch there would be far fewer problems.  Failure of a flatcar trailer hitch is the last thing we need to worry about.

As far as finding workers capable of backing trailers onto flatcars, don't underestimate the abilities of the average worker.  With proper equipment, some training, and respect they can do great things.  And they'll take great pride in their work.  If they're allowed to.

The truck driver "shortage" is caused by:  1) not paying enough and, 2) miserable working conditions that can cause a driver to be away from home for weeks on end while living in his/her truck.  Pay more and get the driver home and there will be enough drivers.

My girlfriend's son is a driver in Chicago.  He doesn't mind starting early and working late six days per week.  But he has a 15 month old son at home with his wife.  He wants to bring in a good paycheck to care for them and be with them at night.  He won't go out over the road (driver shortage?) but he'll work his tail off for his paycheck and his family time.

Don't ever underestimate the workers' abilities.  They can do a whole lot of good things, under the right conditions.

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Posted by ericsp on Sunday, March 19, 2017 2:04 AM

It looks like they are XPWX now, http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?road=XPWX&cid=3. What is with the unusual design?

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, March 19, 2017 8:11 AM

ericsp
It looks like they are XPWX now, http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?road=XPWX&cid=3. What is with the unusual design?

Bigger question to me is why do seemingly 'normal' 53 foot trailers have 3 and 4 axles under the box instead of two.  Are they carrying loads exceeding the nominal 80K that are the USA norm?

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Posted by greyhounds on Sunday, March 19, 2017 9:35 AM

BaltACD
Bigger question to me is why do seemingly 'normal' 53 foot trailers have 3 and 4 axles under the box instead of two.  Are they carrying loads exceeding the nominal 80K that are the USA norm?

Yes, the loads can weigh more.  The laws are different in Canada.  

"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 9:39 AM

ericsp
 What is with the unusual design?

I think of them as applying the advantages of 5-unit articulated lightweight well-car construction to relatively low-floor through-flat-deck construction.  Since they will not carry double stack loads they can use normal-wheeled trucks.

the Europeans have a version of this running on very small wheels (about 16" if I remember correctly) that is loaded by drive-on end-to-end as a ferry operation through tunnels.  Everyone stays in their vehicles and drives off at the 'other end'.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, March 19, 2017 10:11 AM

BaltACD
 
ericsp
It looks like they are XPWX now, http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?road=XPWX&cid=3. What is with the unusual design?

 

Bigger question to me is why do seemingly 'normal' 53 foot trailers have 3 and 4 axles under the box instead of two.  Are they carrying loads exceeding the nominal 80K that are the USA norm?

 

When the 53' semi-trailer became the 'norm in the US [ie: the 80,000#regulations], one of the enforcement factors became "The Bridge Formula". 

   Adjustments, could be made within the 'truck-trailer', by movements to the sliding tandem on the trailer, also with a 'sliding fifth wheel' . The latter movement could 'load' weight to the tractor steering axle. The trailer 'slider tandem' could adjust weight onto the trailer axle assembly, or move it to the tractor, as needed to be able 'to scale' the load on the unit. 

 The tandem axle, is pretty much the norm country-wide in US. Some states have mase provisions (regulatory changes?) with in their enforcement enviornment to allow certain combinations of multiple-trailers ( as in 'Turnpike specific' rules in some states). Some states will allow additional axles to be used on some equipment ( combinations using air-lifting axles, or fixed axles, as well as provisions for additions to size of tires used.) 

 Obviously, as shown in the photos of Canadian equipment,[ I have no clue as to their mandated gross vehicle weights, or how weights on axles are apportioned.]     Obviously, multilpe axles can be advantaged to add more weight to the vehicle loads. Canada also allows the combinations of multiple trailers;[ regulated over their National Highway system] ( 'Trains') that utilize as part of their load carrying capacity multiple axle arrrangements with in the individual, truck-trailer(s) vehicle combinations.

Ulrich could probably quote chapter, and verse on this information?

So in neither country, there is 'no easy answer'.Trucks and their make-up, boil down to the regulatory enforcement of the rules as legislated within their systems.

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 19, 2017 10:20 AM

greyhounds

 

 
RME
One demonstrated issue with Iron Highway is that it requires kingpin-hitch securement at the trailer noses.  At least one of these has come unlocked in the all-too-familiar-with-wear-on-the-equipment way and caused the usual problems.  The aftermath of such an event may eat up a great deal of the presumable profit from using Iron Highway instead of, say, expanded conventional containerized intermodal in lieu of van trailers.  In my opinion there is also the added question of the skills needed by drivers for circus-type loading and unloading when there is a considerable narrow distance to back up between presumably substantial sill rails.  This is not a 'kangarou' system with bearing surface between the trailer duals, so presumably scuffing the trailer outer sidewalls is the 'default' guidance backup.  With the current 'driver shortage' are there enough skilled or trainable drivers to make an expansion of Expressway safe and practical?

 

Oh pshaw!

The kingpin hitch has been in use for 60 years or so.  It holds on in train wrecks, TOFC cars sent over humps, and overspeed impacts.  If all rail components were nearly as reliable as a hitch there would be far fewer problems.  Failure of a flatcar trailer hitch is the last thing we need to worry about.

As far as finding workers capable of backing trailers onto flatcars, don't underestimate the abilities of the average worker.  With proper equipment, some training, and respect they can do great things.  And they'll take great pride in their work.  If they're allowed to.

The truck driver "shortage" is caused by:  1) not paying enough and, 2) miserable working conditions that can cause a driver to be away from home for weeks on end while living in his/her truck.  Pay more and get the driver home and there will be enough drivers.

My girlfriend's son is a driver in Chicago.  He doesn't mind starting early and working late six days per week.  But he has a 15 month old son at home with his wife.  He wants to bring in a good paycheck to care for them and be with them at night.  He won't go out over the road (driver shortage?) but he'll work his tail off for his paycheck and his family time.

Don't ever underestimate the workers' abilities.  They can do a whole lot of good things, under the right conditions.

 

Agreed, the proper expansion of TOFC would improve working conditions for truck drivers, making a much great percentage of such jobs "9-5" and thereby making them more attractive to higher skilled, higher motivated workers.

TOFC really is the answer to reduced fuel consumption, safer, less crowded highways, higher quality jobs, and list of other smaller side benifits.

The railroads simply need to develope this or other methods and equipment to improve portal to portal time at costs that are similar to over the road trucking.

Circus loading of small groups of trailers is not difficuilt and reduces terminal costs considerablely. Self contained ramp cars or portable ramps make it more practical to serve smaller markets with just a paved unloading track area.

One early 60's circus loading TOFC yard in Baltimore had more than a dozen tracks, eack only held 3 85'/89' cars for faster loading. 

Containers are great for ships, but are extra heavy and not needed for domestic shipments. Faster, better TOFC is the answer, not robot trucks or silly arodynamic junk on trailers, or even these miserable 53' trailers.

The Staggers Act should have been passed in 1950 in stead of 1980. If so trailers might still be 35' long and not clogging up intersections making turns, TOFC would be carrying almost all loads more than 200-300 miles, The air would be cleaner, more oil would still be in the ground, and the trucking industry and the railroads would all be better off today.......

But what do I know, I only learned what I know from my father who was a career trucking industry manager from the 50's to the 80's, much of which was with CAROLINA, once the GIANT of east coast trucking.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 11:04 AM

Do you actually think that people in the industry have forgotten the advantages of TOFC over COFC and that some magic day they will 'come to their senses' and embrace widespread circus-type loading of switched-out rakes of an 'iron highway' consist?

Both 'the market' for equipment and the folks in the industry who pay for its operation have consistently rejected these drive-on, drive-off facilities in most lanes, even where local initiative provided suitable physical facilities such as ramps adjacent to suitable yard space.  I have looked forward to adoption of a number of these continuous-roadway systems over the years, including some that lowered the deck under the road wheels to get the effect of 'fuel foiler' spine-car pockets while preserving RoRo operation.  I even waited for drop-in or raise-up decking for well cars that would convert them to through-drive use.  To date, we have Expressway in its lane, and it appears that no one else (yet) thinks that building more of the specialized cars, or operating them in existing intermodal consists or operations, makes enough financial sense.

Personally I think better methods of side or angle loading conventional unreinforced vans, or design of better yard tractors for loading and unloading RoRo trains more expediently, are important before any great use of articulated through-deck equipment catches on.  At least that's where most of my research on that kind of operation has been directed.

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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 11:23 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The Staggers Act should have been passed in 1950 in stead of 1980. If so trailers might still be 35' long and not clogging up intersections making turns, TOFC would be carrying almost all loads more than 200-300 miles, The air would be cleaner, more oil would still be in the ground, and the trucking industry and the railroads would all be better off today....... But what do I know, I only learned what I know from my father who was a career trucking industry manager from the 50's to the 80's, much of which was with CAROLINA, once the GIANT of east coast trucking.

So you are saying that your father would prefer a world of 35' trailers that can't economically be transported further than 300 miles or so?  Or that he did not fully understand the logistical implications behind even limited reliance on point-to-point TOFC operations on the general REA delivery model, in both time and cost?

It could just as easily be said that reform of Missouri law in the 1940s permitting larger Nite Coaches and longer/heavier 'combinations' or road trains would have given many of the nominal cost and fuel advantages realizable with conventional TOFC to even small OTR operators.  Why do you think Staggers in the '50s would materially improve the profitability of, say, PRR's TrucTrains, or the use as IC did of a rake of circus-loading flats at the end of passenger trains to add a little more productivity to a then-still-viable REA?

It might also be possible that 'the good would be the enemy of the great' in precluding widespread use of true stack COFC as quickly or pervasively as it has come about; I'd bet that the benefits of COFC to railroads at least in this century so far have far outweighed even the most efficient possible pig equivalents...

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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 11:43 AM

greyhounds
The kingpin hitch has been in use for 60 years or so.  It holds on in train wrecks, TOFC cars sent over humps, and overspeed impacts.  If all rail components were nearly as reliable as a hitch there would be far fewer problems.  Failure of a flatcar trailer hitch is the last thing we need to worry about.

The fact, however, remains that the hitch HAS failed in Iron Highway service and this HAS resulted in damage which could easily involve more than just trailers in the following consist.

Sure, the basic design is safe and well evolved.  When new, and properly maintained, and properly operated and checked.  If I remember correctly, the bent locking pin was not a unique failure, and the lack of supervision that would have caught either the problem or the subsequent release of the trailer nose was evidently present.  Does anyone here know the specific remedies that were implemented after the incident... or if they are still being followed with their original good intentions and stringency?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 19, 2017 11:59 AM

RME

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The Staggers Act should have been passed in 1950 in stead of 1980. If so trailers might still be 35' long and not clogging up intersections making turns, TOFC would be carrying almost all loads more than 200-300 miles, The air would be cleaner, more oil would still be in the ground, and the trucking industry and the railroads would all be better off today....... But what do I know, I only learned what I know from my father who was a career trucking industry manager from the 50's to the 80's, much of which was with CAROLINA, once the GIANT of east coast trucking.

 

So you are saying that your father would prefer a world of 35' trailers that can't economically be transported further than 300 miles or so?  Or that he did not fully understand the logistical implications behind even limited reliance on point-to-point TOFC operations on the general REA delivery model, in both time and cost?

It could just as easily be said that reform of Missouri law in the 1940s permitting larger Nite Coaches and longer/heavier 'combinations' or road trains would have given many of the nominal cost and fuel advantages realizable with conventional TOFC to even small OTR operators.  Why do you think Staggers in the '50s would materially improve the profitability of, say, PRR's TrucTrains, or the use as IC did of a rake of circus-loading flats at the end of passenger trains to add a little more productivity to a then-still-viable REA?

It might also be possible that 'the good would be the enemy of the great' in precluding widespread use of true stack COFC as quickly or pervasively as it has come about; I'd bet that the benefits of COFC to railroads at least in this century so far have far outweighed even the most efficient possible pig equivalents...

 

My points were intended to be a little overly dramatic, like a few other regulars on here........

Basic point is that deregulation took too long, regardless of exactly how equipment development might or might not have progressed.

And my fathers career also included a stretch with the SOUTHERN in pig operations.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, March 19, 2017 12:03 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

One early 60's circus loading TOFC yard in Baltimore had more than a dozen tracks, eack only held 3 85'/89' cars for faster loading.

Sheldon

B&O's Wicomoco Street trailer ramp had 6 tracks  that were all circus loaded.  They had 4 'normal' tracks that held 7 89 foot TTX cars each, there were 2 'reverse' tracks, one held 4 cars the other held 3.  A total of 35 cars for a full spotting.  Kept a T&E Yard crew as well as Car Dept. crew and Yard drivers busy unloading and reloading the cars.  During my tenure as ATTM (1972-1977) over the operation, the maximum of cars dispatched was 110 in one day for pickup by two trailer trains - One for Chicago and one for St. Louis.  Subsequent to my tenure (1979) Wicomoco Street was closed and the operation was moved to Port Covington, where it remained for several years until the Port Covington property was sold (I don't know what kind of operation PC had as I was then working in another department).  Sea Girt terminal at Dundalk is the present CSX trailer/container facility with most traffic being handled in containers for both import and export.

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, March 19, 2017 12:06 PM

Atlantic Central- Good post, cuts thru the nonsense and is perfectly sensible. Well we can't go back to 1950 and Stagger's unfortunately  took another 30 years but we should be able to look back, learn and implement what we know.  Why we are so fascinated by gadgets and gizmos as well as displacing thousands of jobs with sheer suicidal nonsense is beyond comprehension when we know what will work and extremely well at that. 

Folks need a life, employment, a good wage, dignity. Also common sense, stability, safety. Ya sure, everyone trying to be a star these days, tripping over themselves with so much noise. We are all smart so lets get over that part and get on with doing whats good for the folks.  

  • Member since
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  • From: Maryland
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 19, 2017 12:16 PM

BaltACD

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

One early 60's circus loading TOFC yard in Baltimore had more than a dozen tracks, eack only held 3 85'/89' cars for faster loading.

Sheldon

 

B&O's Wicomoco Street trailer ramp had 6 tracks  that were all circus loaded.  They had 4 'normal' tracks that held 7 89 foot TTX cars each, there were 2 'reverse' tracks, one held 4 cars the other held 3.  A total of 35 cars for a full spotting.  Kept a T&E Yard crew as well as Car Dept. crew and Yard drivers busy unloading and reloading the cars.  During my tenure as ATTM (1972-1977) over the operation, the maximum of cars dispatched was 110 in one day for pickup by two trailer trains - One for Chicago and one for St. Louis.  Subsequent to my tenure (1979) Wicomoco Street was closed and the operation was moved to Port Covington, where it remained for several years until the Port Covington property was sold (I don't know what kind of operation PC had as I was then working in another department).  Sea Girt terminal at Dundalk is the present CSX trailer/container facility with most traffic being handled in containers for both import and export.

 

Thanks for the details, I knew I was just "winging" that from memory as well. But the point remains, it was common for circus loaded pig yards to have realtively short tracks.

I don't claim to have any of the detailed answers to these issues, but common sense and reasonable working knowledge of trains and trucks suggests the answers can be found and made to work.

Trucks have become too large and heavy for our highways, and the real problem is the car drivers.....but we can't fix that.....we can however use less truck miles in favor of more fuel effective rail miles, and we should, for safety and fuel savings, each with their obvious benifits. 

Those who would compel us to "save the planet" have no issue with higher costs, I suspect the goals I am suggesting can be had for much lower increases in costs and possibly at no increased cost? 

How much is a life worth? How much is the planet worth if indeed we are damaging it?

I would suggest my approach to be much more cost effective and less self serving than magnetic highways or robot truck caravans......

I will shut up now, I have model trains to build. Need to add to the TOFC fleet, almost 100 now.

Sheldon

    

RME
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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 2:19 PM

I think the issue of concern isn't quite so much "Staggers" deregulation (which would be highly unlikely in the '50s or even the early '60s) as it is a change in the contemporary ICC policies 'protecting' the relatively-recently-regulated 'motor carrier' industry from railroad-owned or -managed competition.  

My initial question, though, would be whether ANY railroad ownership of actual trucking entities, or 'favored status' in tariffs for joint-venture truck or tractor providers, was really needed to obtain the economies you see for TOFC operations, both in the pre-defense-highway era AND in the brief first age of freight-carrier-optimized toll parkways (e.g. the NYS Thruway double-freighter experiments, which had at least some of the one-tractor logistics advantages mentioned for 'triples' via Expressway a few posts ago.)

i think that as soon as the practical costs of switch moves, brake-law requirements, and other things came up in price, the economics of widespread adoption of ramps and circus loading as a replacement for loose-car railroading through automated yards died faster than any perceived advantage of handling trailers that way.  If I recall correctly the effective end-to-end TIME provided by even very hot pig trains was still vastly slower than most comparable on-road moves, so the perceived 'profitable advantage' was a relatively thin slice between fast and convenient one-tractor road moves and low-overhead, cheaper, but slower loose-car operations.

I also note that one of the big places TOFC currently succeeds is in 'railbridge' service for large established independent truck lines, a service that could just as easily exist for a through-lined version of TrucTrain (or one of its successor entities) as for the Alphabet Route equivalent (wasn't Apollo Service one of these) that needed bidirectional assured traffic volume to work effectively?

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, March 19, 2017 2:21 PM

BaltACD

 

 
ericsp
It looks like they are XPWX now, http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?road=XPWX&cid=3. What is with the unusual design?

 

Bigger question to me is why do seemingly 'normal' 53 foot trailers have 3 and 4 axles under the box instead of two.  Are they carrying loads exceeding the nominal 80K that are the USA norm?

 

Two and a half years ago, when I went from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy and back, I noticed that the vans that were loaded had three axles and not just two. Also, the tractor that loaded the vans stayed at the harbour, and another tractor took the vans off at the end of the trip. (Please note my courtesy towards the Canadians.)

Johnny

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Sunday, March 19, 2017 6:37 PM

When I traveled to Alaska in the 1990's, our trip took us on the Alaska RR's shuttle train to Whittier from Portage. This is no longer operated as vehicles can now drive through the former rail only tunnel. The train had a loading ramp that mated with a modified flat car that you drove onto and then up to the car you were to ride on. This was the "Circus style" (there were plates between cars) loading but without backing up. At Whittier, we drove forward to the front car which was the same as the back end car and drove off onto a ramp. The train carried trucks, tour buses, and autos. We were driving a class C motorhome and were taking the Alaska Marine Highway to Valdez. From googlemaps, it appears the ramp  and parking area has been removed.

What I'm wondering is whether that would be easier than the backing on type of circus train loading for putting trailers onto shuttle trains. 

RME
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    March, 2016
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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 7:07 PM

Electroliner 1935
What I'm wondering is whether that would be easier than the backing on type of circus train loading for putting trailers onto shuttle trains. 

It is, of course... but most TOFC operations hinge on transporting only the trailers, not tractor-trailers nose to tail.  (This is very different from operations like the Swiss truck 'ferries' I mentioned earlier, or their automotive equivalents; see for example myswissalps.com on 'Car trains in Switzerland'.)

If you're detaching the tractors, after you've parked and hitched the first 'through' trailer on an Iron Highway/Expressway, the following tractor(s) can't drive through it to escape, and even when there is a side "escape route" it would be difficult to try to move the trailer forward on its landing gear to stage it to the next platform hitch.  Some of the 'special yard tractor' designs I mentioned address this situation.

The other end of a circus-loaded trip also involves backing down sequentially to reach the next trailer, now with the added fillip of getting the fifth wheel and kingpin aligned and locked and hooking up the brake hoses.  As noted this is not difficult for skilled drivers, but any problem here also affects all the others 'behind'.  Meanwhile, how long does it take to flat-switch the cuts to their ramps, extend the apron plates, etc. to realize the benefits of the parallel loading or unloading, or to allow access to trailers other than in reverse order of loading?

I note that Expressway uses only yard tractors to load and unload the equipment, and 90 minutes is allowed from 'last drop off' to train time, and then from train arrival/hostling to customer hookup, to facilitate this.  No commercial driver has to engage in any roadeo circus backing activity.  It occurs to me that special parking for programmed 'dwell ' time (hours to days) to facilitate true JIT delivery with minimal on-hook or driver hours might easily be added to the service as CP now provides it.

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, March 19, 2017 7:22 PM

When the military loads their flats (granted, they are usually loading vehicles, not just trailers), they drive on.  When they reach their destination, they turn the entire train so they can drive off - no backing involved.  (While I'm sure they have some accomplished drivers - not all, though.)  Some of the vehicles may be towing trailers, as well.  

That's just background info...

Of course, that won't work with trailers, which leads me to a question - are most trailers capable of being lifted?  That would seem to be the answer, rather than having to back over several cars.

How did RBBB do it?

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
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There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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