The loss of rails

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Posted by Falcon48 on Thursday, December 28, 2017 7:51 PM

Also, the growth of unit trains for grain shipping made it uneconomical to ship grain in carload lots direct from branch line country elevators to markets. It was much more economical to truck grain to large main line elevators which could ship by unit train to markets.  

As an aside, I was involved in a Colorado abandonment about 20 years ago which was opposed by a number of local and governmental interests who were concerned about loss of rail access to the elevators served by the line.  But the facts showed something really surprising (at least to the locals).  The elevators on the line were certainly buying grain from the locals. But they weren't shipping most of their outbound grain by the rail line that served them.  Rather, they were shipping most of their outbound grain by truck to a unit train elevator on another rail line.     

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Posted by greyhounds on Friday, December 29, 2017 12:28 AM

Abandonments, small towns, toxic government meddling.  This is hitting my hot buttons on a cold night.

First, let me get something off my chest.  The OP said: "we live in a structure that breeds monopolies....."  I stongly disagree.  I spent my work life employed by "Big Business" and I know the business landscape is very competitive.  Very Competitive!  But that's a digression.

Unit trains are one of the most efficient means of moving large steady volumes of bulk commodities such as coal, grain, oil, frac sand, etc.  For decades the ignorant, foolish government regulators would not allow:  1) rate reductions for unit train volumes or, 2) the assignment of rail owned equipment, including locomotives, to unit train service.  In effect, the railroads could not legally give a volume discount.  This did divert a whole lot of business to barge movement.  Barge rates were not regulated.  It was "Efficiency be damned", everybody gets the same rate.  Even if it really hurts.  And it did hurt.  The farmers got stuck with a costly system for moving their crops.  This decreased their real income.  They either had to pay to truck the grain to a river terminal or pay single car rail rates when lower unit train rates would have been available.  The railroads got poor equipment utilization and were stuck with all these low volume branch lines that drained resources.

Small towns.  I grew up in one.  Manito, IL ... population 1,000 or so.  My high school graduating class had 49 students.  The role of the small town changed drastically with the advent of motorized transportation.  When people relied on horses the towns (commercial centers) had to be relatively close together.  People had to travel to those towns in a buggy, get supplies, and return home.  Farmers had to get their grain to town and get home with a team and wagon.  It couldn't be a significant distance.  (It wasn't until 1954 that farm tractors replaced draft horses as the main source of farm work.)

When automobiles became available and the roads were improved (Ah, Freedom!) people could travel farther to buy a pair of shoes.  They got a larger assortment and lower prices.  The small town merchants suffered, but so what?  Things change.  Live with it.

The worst thing any government could do would have been to subsidize the now inefficient small towns in any way.  Including maintaining rail service to inefficient small town businesses such as grain merchants.

 

    

 

"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 Deggesty on Friday, December 29, 2017 8:06 AM

I also grew up in a small town--population in 1950, 698. There were two general stores in town, and I worked in one for about a year, Most of our stock came in by truck, but our flour came in by rail. On one occasion, I went with the delivery boy in the wagon to pick the flour up, which was in sacks, half-sacks, and quarter-sacks, from one end of a boxcar. (One sack had been torn as it slid on floor when it was loaded, and I sewed it up with string.) 

The only other lcl that I remember seeing was school textbooks going back to the capital after school ended in the spring.

Much pulpwood was shipped out on woodracks. Coal may have come in by rail, but I do not remember seeing such.

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Posted by Sunnyland on Thursday, January 04, 2018 5:33 PM

I understand what you mean and that's why I am glad BNSF has kept the old Frisco yard where Dad worked still going.  It's smaller than some yards, but it's very busy, I see a lot of intermodal traffic going in and out of there.  They don't call it Lindenwood Yard any longer and it looks different,as they tore down the yard office where Dad worked. But tracks have trains  still moving on them which is the important thing.  

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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Thursday, January 04, 2018 6:56 PM
fascinating description of the past…. Am wondering    since the blog leads w/”…..blocked by the US Government's Interstate Commerce Commission.  For no discernable rational reason”  …..  Then later there was the comment. ….” Such change is painful to those being replaced, but it is totally necessary if our economy is to grow and our living standards increased.”  
I realize the later might be the case of  “Creative Desctruction” , but in the case of squashing the method of container shipments blocked by the government …… somebody knows somebody in the government and 1st somebody w/special interests calls on 2nd somebody who is in the government ……or in other words follow the money      did your thesis (Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, December 28, 2017 3:37 PM) boil down to about the scenario mentioned above?
1.??? ….Again for clarification, Creative Destruction was not the case of the container idea but typewriters verses word processors would be an example, correct?     Creative destruction, interesting phrase
Then there is the phrase describing the rocket launch that blew up  …… unexpected, unplanned, disassembly  
Also the mention of unit trains …………Posted by greyhounds on Friday, December 29, 2017 12:28 AM       …………is opposite a comment somewhere else on this blog site.  It was mentioned there that the concept of "economy" is false.  Considering the return trip back to origin is empty, nothing hauled but expense just the same. 
2.??? …Does this average out (load one way, empty return) to be a win, total cost?
 I have no idea, but would have bought the idea that no switching etc.    unit train = good deal   
I need to find the blogger who contested that idea of it being economical   ……. Funny what was posted (Posted by Falcon48 on Thursday, December 28, 2017 7:51 PM) to point out unit train facts..... NOT false impression of the locals
………Wow the model of the container cars is awesome…..Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, December 28, 2017 6:20 PM
My son is involved with boxcar shipments of food grade rolls of paper, and since he is the overseer from mill to end user he is very aware of the rail problems that his customers don’t have a clue. … BTW Sometimes these rolls can sure tear up a boxcar when humped.

 

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Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, January 04, 2018 10:23 PM

OK, let me try this....

Cotton Belt MP104
but in the case of squashing the method of container shipments blocked by the government …… somebody knows somebody in the government and 1st somebody w/special interests calls on 2nd somebody who is in the government ……or in other words follow the money did your thesis (Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, December 28, 2017 3:37 PM) boil down to about the scenario mentioned above?

You're not the first person to ask this question.  The government's action was so illogical that people vainly search for, and sometimes invent, logical explanations.  

The process I went trough to get a MS in Transportation from Northwestern University involved doing research and writing a thesis.  Then I had to have my writing reviewed by three faculty members.  After that, I had to face them across a room where (three on one) they questioned me about the things that I wrote.

One of them came up with the same question you did.  "Did you find out who was paying off who.?"  The government decision was so weird that it's hard to comprehend it without resorting to the assumption of outright dishonesty.

No, the government was being ignorant and stupid.  Not dishonest.  They were lawyers and political hacks.  The lawyers followed precedent, which didn't allow for the changes brought on by motor freight.  The hacks followed the lawyers.

Very bad things for the US economy and the US people resulted.

 

Cotton Belt MP104

1.??? ….Again for clarification, Creative Destruction was not the case of the container idea but typewriters verses word processors would be an example, correct? Creative destruction, interesting phrase Then there is the phrase describing the rocket launch that blew up …… unexpected, unplanned, disassembly

Both domestic containers and word processors are examples of Creative Destruction.  The containers were wrongly blocked (in 1931) by the damn government, word processors were not blocked.

I once read a quote from a literal rocket scientist that explained a failure as "Showing us many things that do not work."   Yep.  We largely make progress through trial and error.  Government lawyers and political hacks get in the way of that.

Cotton Belt MP104

Also the mention of unit trains …………Posted by greyhounds on Friday, December 29, 2017 12:28 AM …………is opposite a comment somewhere else on this blog site. It was mentioned there that the concept of "economy" is false. Considering the return trip back to origin is empty, nothing hauled but expense just the same. 2.??? …Does this average out (load one way, empty return) to be a win, total cost? I have no idea, but would have bought the idea that no switching etc. unit train = good deal I need to find the blogger who contested that idea of it being economical ……. Funny what was posted (Posted by Falcon48 on Thursday, December 28, 2017 7:51 PM) to point out unit train facts..... NOT false impression of the locals

Well, the equipment is going to go back empty whether it's in a unit train or not.  Face it, frac sand from Wisconsin to Texas is a one way move.  You're not going to find return loads in that volume from an oil field in Texas to a sand pit area in Wisconsin.  The cars will return empty.  The way to handle such a move most efficiently is in unit train service.  Otherwise the rail cars are going to sit in yards which does nobody any good.

As a side note, the Cotton Belt with its Blue Streak Merchandise was on the leading edge in the fight against the new motor freight competition.  That was in my thesis.  They didn't use containers but they did offer a type of intermodal service that met the truckers head on.  The Missouri Pacific threw a hissy fit about the SSW service.

"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 Overmod on Friday, January 05, 2018 9:07 AM

greyhounds
The containers were wrongly blocked (in 1931) by the damn government, word processors were not blocked.

A better example than 'government' with word-processing would be IBM's deprecation of the 'Peanut' because of internal lobbying by the then-lucrative DisplayWriter division.  I suspect but can't prove there was a similar effort regarding the more-advanced models of WheelWriter typewriters (at least a couple of which had full PS-2 computer motherboards in them with their expansion slot traces unpopulated). 

With regard to the containerization ban: I have something about that in my thesis as well, but from a somewhat different standpoint: just as the Pentagon is always trying to fight the last war, the Government -- even, historically, the pre-New Deal "Hoover" government -- and its minions often develop policy to address problems that have changed or no longer really exist.  In the case of containerization (and the larger issue of railroad-owned motor carriers) the 'octopus' perception was still very great: the idea that railroads would preferentially throw 'regulated' business to their own subsidiaries to the detriment of (then-pre-ICC-regulated) motor carriers.  I believe there was some evidence for that in the versions of containerized transport that were used in the '20s, not just because of things like proprietary attachments for swap-bodies and the like.

I think there was a surprising amount of 'meet the truckers head-on' that has gone largely unobserved in the railfan community -- was not the "Whippet" an example of the same idea on a less-exalted scale than the BSM, and perhaps not as dependent on certain high-volume fast-schedule traffic as that train?  I did not study the NYC Pacemaker service but suspect it had many of the 'necessary' hallmarks of a fast unified point-to-point delivery model.

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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Friday, January 05, 2018 1:38 PM
 
My mind is boggled by all the references to situations/issues of the past that are related to this subject. Certainly some are “dead on” and others only similar.  As in the case of container traffic of old on the RR flatcar, how much different than present well cars and ocean containers can this be?  And it is interesting to note that during the War #2 that would have made a difference in resupply.  Amazing, but then the down side was dock workers were probably fewer since the efficiency of loading ships was improved. There is the rub
As an air handler unit was being installed in my house, I asked the installer what something was.  He said it was a “brother in law thing”.  You know, it doesn’t do anything, but the manufacturer’s brother in law makes them and he includes it on the unit, to help out the family.  Never did find out what the item’s purpose was, obviously the installer did not know either.
I can’t let the mention of BSM go by without a personal comment.  I witnessed the BSM and ABSM whiz through my hometown of Paragould.  Those were wee hours of the morning, of an afternoon was the Colton Block Special.  By the way wouldn’t that present day be called a unit train!  It was expedited and nothing but reefers with perishables from Southern California
Reference: UPS and SP/SSW TOFC  of days past  ……   It’s my understanding that if the train was delayed getting to Memphis from the West Coast, they would get off loaded at Pine Bluff and “hit the road”. Plan “B” if you will.   Nice when “everyone can play together”

 

Maybe the chat about:  IBM/Peanut/WheelWriter/PS-2   and Whippet   is pertinent, but it escapes me.
“Reading between the lines”, I think I know what the Whippet was all about. And this reminds me of a suspect boxcar that for years laid unmoved and for sure was not known by anyone on this Earth, what or where it was!  Seems back in the days long ago a hot shot ran from St. Louis via the Old Knobel Main down to Wynne then to Memphis.  Cargo?  On Time Delivery of Ford car parts.  When the boxcar was spotted in Memphis the parts were immediately used in production.   It is my theory that the mysterious car that was idle for years and years was a bad order set out from the hot shot enroute to Memphis.  Why? A crew on the PSE got curious and opened the car.  It was full of automobile engines!  What happened next I do not know    endmrw0105181324
The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by Overmod on Friday, January 05, 2018 1:54 PM

Cotton Belt MP104
As in the case of container traffic of old on the RR flatcar, how much different than present well cars and ocean containers can this be?

Radically different -- do you actually know about older models of containerization, or have you actually looked at pictures of them?

Likewise, prior to the acceptance of ISO marine containers for intermodal service -- something driven more by the marine industry than railroads, in my opinion -- there were all kinds of proprietary container and swap-body systems that ultimately failed to thrive (Flexi-Van significant among them).  There is little actually compelling about intermodal logistics if the cost to implement the intermodality is higher 'than the traffic will bear' (or that the market is willing to pay for lesser convenience).

The Whippet is the Rutland train; it's pertinent because it was an attempt to provide fast, expedited freight service nominally competitive with contemporary truck service in its area.  The IBM Peanut was the 'cheap consumer PC' that was essentially shot in the foot by IBM marketing because they perceived it would compete with their then more lucrative (and highly-expensive) dedicated word-processing equipment ... the same is likely true for typewriters that 'could' be computers but would then compete for true computer sales. 

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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Friday, January 05, 2018 4:11 PM
Posted by Overmod on Friday, January 05, 2018 1:54 PM "Radically different -- do you actually know about older models of containerization, or have you actually looked at pictures of them?" .......... I will be reluctant to comment further since we seem to be “splitting hairs”. I don’t know ANYTHING about the containerization of old EXCEPT the picture of the HO model of same GEE whiz what is radically different than a flat car verses a well car and MODULES of some sort placed upon or in them????? 2nd ppg "……there were all kinds of proprietary container and swap-body systems that ultimately failed to thrive ….." Greyhound ...... where are you to comment on this .....hello? ..... 3rd ppg …. I figured the Whippet was as you said, that is the reason I mentioned the MoPac hot shot for Ford which would be the same ….. and 10-4 on Peanut and IBM endmrw0105181609
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Posted by greyhounds on Friday, January 05, 2018 9:05 PM

I don't see the COFC systems of the 1920's as being "Radically Different" from the present system.  Of course, the old equipment was of the era.  They were operating an intermodal system using friction bearing railcars, steam locomotives, and highway trucks version 1.0.   But all the essential elements were in place.  A truck made the pick up and moved the container to a crane which transferred the container to a railcar.  Then an expidited train moved the railcars to their destination terminal.  At that terminal another crane transferred the container to another truck for delivery.  Each transportation mode was used to its best purpose.

That's essentially the system today, 90 years later.  There's basically no difference.  Today's equipment is better, but the concept is the same.

As to the Whippet train, it was one of many.  (For those who don't know, whippets are a dog breed that can run quite fast.  They look and act like scaled down greyhounds.)

The railroads did not just meekly hand over the high revenue merchandise traffic to the truckers.  They fought for it, and they fought hard.  But the government regulators effectively took away the rails' best tool, intermodal.  The government "only" actually banned COFC west of the Mississippi River.  Just how dumb was this?  I've sometimes wondered if that meant containers could serve St. Paul but not Minneapolis.

East of the Mississippi the government killed intermodal development by ordering the railroads to increase their rates on container shipments to non competitive levels.  Just how dumb was this?  In the middle of an economic crisis (1931) the government ordered corporations to increase their prices.  It just doesn't get any dumber than that.

Back to the Whippet.  One thing the railroads could do for a while, after being greatly restricted on intermodal, was run expidited schedules.  And they did.  Most of us are familiar with SP's famous "Daylight" brand passenger trains.  That railroad also had a fleet of "Overnight" brand freight trains.  An example was a service from Los Angeles to Phoenix.  It was a boxcar based (SP was government banned from container use.) intermodal service.  Freight delivered by truck to an SP freight house in LA would be available to pick up in Phoenix the next morning.  The SP had a bunch of these trains serving the west.  Other railroads offered similar services.

My personal favorite is Illinois Central train MS-1.  (Merchandise Special - 1)  This train originated in Chicago and provided overnight service to Memphis and intermediate points.  Freight arriving at the IC's downtown Chicago terminal by 5:00 PM would be available for delivery in Memphis or various intermediate points the next morning.   Remember, they were doing all this with friction bearing railcars and steam engines.  The IC also operated expidited freight service on other routes.  They sure tried.

The damn government had no authority to prevent these schedules.  That is, until they gave themselves the authority to prevent these schedules.  The government opportunity to meddle some more came with WWII.  "War is the state's friend."  In a war people feel threatened (rightfully so) and are more willing to cede freedom for perceived security.  The government used the war emergency to seize power and order the expidited rail schedules discontinued.  How slowing down delivery of freight helped win the war is a question that I cannot answer.

That's enough for now.  I did basically write a book about this.  After killing the development of intermodal service the government regulators continued to strangle rail innovation time after time.  There's much more to the regulatory tale and it all hurt the railroads, the US economy, and the US people.

 

 

 

"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 Deggesty on Friday, January 05, 2018 9:18 PM

Greyhounds, would your shildren be called Whippets?Smile

Johnny

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Posted by greyhounds on Saturday, January 06, 2018 10:39 PM

Overmod
Likewise, prior to the acceptance of ISO marine containers for intermodal service -- something driven more by the marine industry than railroads, in my opinion -- there were all kinds of proprietary container and swap-body systems that ultimately failed to thrive (Flexi-Van significant among them). There is little actually compelling about intermodal logistics if the cost to implement the intermodality is higher 'than the traffic will bear' (or that the market is willing to pay for lesser convenience).

No!

The 1920's container system dramatically reduced the railroads' cost of moving freight.  The New York Central documented a 75% (that's not a typo) reduction in freight movement costs using containers.

As I have stated, competition forced the railroads to pass most of the savings on to their customers.  But the rails held on to about 1/3 of the savings.  So the customers were getting improved service at a lower charge while the railroad was making more money.   Only a government empowered fool could find fault with that.  Government lawyer Harry C. Ames was the principal such fool in this case.

Flexi-Van and other rail container systems had to operate under strict government regulatory constraints.  No one can truthfully say they got a real market test.

It's very interesting to look at rail container growth.  The service was growing and expanding until the government killed it in 1931.  50 years later rail intermodal was deregulated and containerization came right on back with vengeance.     

People do try to make excuses for the government's stupidity.  These people are wrong.

"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 Cotton Belt MP104 on Sunday, January 07, 2018 1:34 PM

thanks for keeping up the discussion. i sent a private email to you with a request, as this subject and the depth of it is fascinating to me. history has a way of repeating itself and the more of the past we know and can cite..... especially, da gubmint jamming up a well running operation .... we can TRY (i emphasize TRY)  to influence the powers that be  to GET OUTTA the way .........question/greyhound/did you get trains private email? endmrw0117181333

The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by PennsyBoomer on Sunday, January 07, 2018 10:06 PM
Kenny Dorham's "Whistle Stop" on Blue Note is another goodie, and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis's "Trane Whistle" on Prestige..
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Posted by PennsyBoomer on Sunday, January 07, 2018 10:39 PM

KD said: It is really Shocking, not to mention Sad, that just about All of the Big Names, that were so prevalent and well known, hardly exist today.

Cotton Belt MP104 said: I can’t let the mention of BSM go by without a personal comment.  I witnessed the BSM and ABSM whiz through my hometown of Paragould.  Those were wee hours of the morning, of an afternoon was the Colton Block Special.  By the way wouldn’t that present day be called a unit train!  It was expedited and nothing but reefers with perishables from Southern California

Greyhounds said: My personal favorite is Illinois Central train MS-1.  (Merchandise Special - 1)  This train originated in Chicago and provided overnight service to Memphis and intermediate points.  Freight arriving at the IC's downtown Chicago terminal by 5:00 PM would be available for delivery in Memphis or various intermediate points the next morning.   Remember, they were doing all this with friction bearing railcars and steam engines.  The IC also operated expidited freight service on other routes.  They sure tried.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Perhaps it is also fortunate the railroad industry as we know it didn't suffer the fate of big steel although the contraction of rails has certainly been profound - much of it built for a previous era and environment. And consider the magnitude of subsidized competition amidst the development of new means of distribution and travel. The advent of the interstate highways was a death knell for proliferation of rail routes; modern air travel had the same affect for long distance passenger traffic as well as mail and express. Through it all the business has plodded along with varying degrees of success.   

The references to the Cotton Belt redballs and Green Diamond hotshots are quite interesting and should bring back poignant memories to many of how numerous roads across the land contended with a rapidly changing business while harnessed with antiquated regulation. My personal recollections are of Pennsy LCL hotshots and No-Feed stock trains, the Rio Grande's philosophy of 'get 4000 tons, power up and go'; indeed almost everywhere the roads were hustling traffic at a pace that echoed operating in an environment where first class schedules had established a sense of urgency out on the main line. Yep, friction bearings and highball.The entire focus was getting over the road and many roads did it well. But the essential carload nature of the business renders it susceptible to time-sensitive competition from door-to-door hauling on 60-70mph superhighways with increasing payloads. That is not going away.

The infrastructure necessary for passenger, mail and express operations was extensive. To an extent expedited freight service benefitted from the decrease in first class operations while this main line infrastructure was still well-maintained. I believe the overall pace of operations has slowed appreciably in the past decades owing to metrics of economy that in cases may be justified and in others self-defeating. Regardless, it is rather amazing, I think, that privately run enterprises maintain and agressively operate such vast and well-maintained infrastructure as now exists along the railroad.  

We can only hope the economy develops into something sustaining and enhancing for rail traffic. The full effects from the decline in coal, long a huge staple for rails, has yet to be seen; but perhaps new business (or means of delivering) will develop such as crude has represented.   

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Posted by greyhounds on Monday, January 08, 2018 3:07 AM

Cotton Belt MP104
question/greyhound/did you get trains private email? endmrw0117181333

Got it and replied.

 

"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 IslandMan on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 11:30 AM

greyhounds

 

 
Shock Control
Thank you for the detailed response. I had no idea. That is really fascinating.

 

Here's a PDF reproduction of a Pennsylvania Railroad brochure on their 1930 container service.  It is fascinating that this developed so early on.  Please note the plans for expansion of the service.

http://pennsyrr.com/kc/freightops/downloads/container_service.pdf

The OP lamented the demise of the Pennsy, along with some others.  Well, changes are inevittable and we can't live in the past.  But the damn government just flat out killed this innovation one year later, for absolutely no good reason other than it was change.  This did hurt the Pennsylvania and at least hastened its demise.

The elimination of rail container service by government decree took away an important competitive tool vis a vis motor freight.  There were other such equally stupid government restrictions on railroads.  I wrote a masters thesis focusing on how the regulators literally allocated the movement of high revenue freight to the truckers.

These allocations not only hurt the railroads, they hurt the American People by preventing the development of the most efficient logistics network to serve the economy. 

 

 

Interesting pdf.  I wonder how the container system would have developed, given the chance. 

The present day trucking industry uses demountable truck bodies, effectively non-ISO containers, to enable loading/unloading to take place whilst the truck and its driver go off to handle other business.  The demountable body is cheap, the truck and its driver expensive, hence the business logic behind this. There are a number of systems in use, for example using folding legs to support the body as it is detached from the truck flatbed, but they all dispense with the need for cranes.

There is not a huge difference between a demountable truck body and the containers the PRR were using. Had containerization been allowed to continue, no doubt the mechanical handling industry would have developed means to switch containers from road to rail and vice-versa rapidly and without the use of cranes.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Cotton Belt MP104 on Tuesday, January 09, 2018 3:49 PM

No disrespect to the family of the person mentioned below, he was a very active church leader and civic minded person, however, if one cannot understand how things "can get otta whack", just check out the rest of the picture. The obit includes a telling fact.

For all those who have been following this thread ..... very very important name to know .....  this guy was ONLY doing his job of course, but here is the answer to HOW could all this have been ???  He was a good lawyer and guess who he represented ???    follows   excerpt/edit (bold print) of obit   

.....Harry C. Ames Jr., 95, a transportation lawyer who co-founded Aes, Hill and  Ames law firm in Washington, died Aug. 27 2008.   ............. Mr. Ames specialized in transportation law and in the 1960s successfully argued the "ingot molds" case before the U.S. Supreme Court, a historic resolution of rate differentials between railroads and barge lines. In 1993, he was named man of the year by the Interstate Commerce Commission's administrative law judges.    He represented more than 287 trucking and barge lines over the years.  .................   Edit .......   What no railroads represented ??? ….. I am simply mortified and just cannot believe what I read here  ....  edit mrw

as Paul H said, "The rest of the story"   endmrw0108181639ob

 

The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by greyhounds on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:05 AM

Cotton Belt MP104
.....Harry C. Ames Jr., 95, a transportation lawyer who co-founded Aes, Hill and Ames law firm in Washington, died Aug. 27 2008. ............. Mr. Ames specialized in transportation law and in the 1960s successfully argued the "ingot molds" case before the U.S. Supreme Court, a historic resolution of rate differentials between railroads and barge lines. In 1993, he was named man of the year by the Interstate Commerce Commission's administrative law judges. He represented more than 287 trucking and barge lines over the years. ................. Edit ....... What no railroads represented ??? ….. I am simply mortified and just cannot believe what I read here .... edit mrw

OK, a bit of a clarification here.

The man cited in the obituary was Harry C. Ames Jr.  The ICC attorney-examiner who lead the pack to the destruction of rail intermodal service in 1931 was his father, Harry C. Ames Sr.

Harry C. Sr. left government service and later joined with his son, Harry C. Jr. in the law firm Ames, Hill and Ames.  This was a Washington D.C. firm that specialized in "Transportion Law", mainly economic regulation. I don't believe them to have been bad people.  They were just following very bad laws.

As mentioned in the obituary Harry C. Ames Jr. was an attorney for the barge interests in the infamous "Ingot Molds" case.  The railroads had attempted to reduce their rate on aluminum ingots moving from Pennsylvania to Kentucky.  The railroads just wanted to match the barge rate.

The governmet regulators would not allow such a reduction as it would divert the business from barge movement.  This was an example of "Umbrella" rates, that is rail rates held artificially high by the regulators to protect barges from rail competition.  Such rates were fairly common.  The railroads challenged the regulators in court and lost.

Economists have long since ridiculed the decision.  In their excellent book "American Railroads:  Decline and Renaissance in the Twentieth Century" the economists Gallamore and Meyer cite the "Ingot Molds" case as one of two cases that totally destroyed any credibility that the Interstate Commerce Commission had left.  (The other one was the "Big John Hopper" case of the Southern Railway.)

The fact that Harry C. Ames Jr.'s participation in support of umbrella rate making was mentioned in his obituary as an accomplishment shows, I think, just how misguided the economic regulation was.  

 

 

"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 Cotton Belt MP104 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:46 AM
CORRECTION NOTED JR VS. SR OF NOTE BLOG THREAD TITLE Southern Big John Confusion Posted by PNWRMNM on Monday, February 12, 2007 1:51 AM Snagletooth, The Big John case was NOT about interchange. It was about the right and ability of the railroad industry to respond to the market, and specifically to compete with trucks and barges. The story is well told in "Brosnan, the Railroad's Messiah". The author of that book believes that the case was the begining of the end of the ICC because it revealed an agency bent on holding railroad rates up to protect modal competitors. ENDMRW0110181046OB
The ONE the ONLY/ Paragould, Arkansas/ Est. 1883 / formerly called The Crossing/ a portmanteau/ JW Paramore (Cotton Belt RR) Jay Gould (MoPac)/crossed at our town/ None other, NOWHERE in the world
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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:03 PM

greyhounds

Harry C. Ames Sr.

 

Excerpt from Railway Age, August 31, 1929: Attorney-Examiner Harry C. Ames, in his proposed report to the Interstate Commerce Commission in the container case (No. 21723 and I. & S. No. 3198) recommends the conclusion that container service for the interstate transportation of l.c.l. freight, subject to rates which are proper and lawful, is desirable in the public interest when applied to eastern territory. The term "eastern territory" as used in the report is defined to include St. Louis and Chicago and the territory east thereof and north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers to the Atlantic Seaboard…

 

Excerpt from Saving the Railroad Industry to Death by Albert Churella http://www.thebhc.org/sites/default/files/churella_0.pdf

The controversy began in December 1928, when the Missouri Pacific announced plans to establish container service. Other western railroads protested, as did such perennially insolvent eastern lines as the New Haven, the Erie, and the Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western. The ICC scheduled a set of hearings for February 1929, hearings that dragged on into March, and then April, in Dallas, Kansas City, New York, and, finally, Washington. Because there were so many weak railroads in the Northeast, the ICC maintained, “in order that traffic may freely move, both the carriers and this commission may be expected to cast about for some traffic which might properly be expected to bear higher rates” and thus cross-subsidize less remunerative rates, particularly on marginal routes. Railroad efforts to shift LCL traffic to more efficient containers threatened the ICC’s “mandate that rates and revenue must be redistributed in order that an adequate system of transportation be maintained.” 30

 

30 Harry C. Ames, comments in ICC 21723 and 3198, quoted in Railway Age 87(31 Aug. 1929): 557-58.

 

https://books.google.com/books?id=sxGrCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA199&dq=%22ICC+examiner+harry+c+ames%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_urua7M3YAhWQON8KHSpOBrkQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=%22ICC%20examiner%20harry%20c%20ames%22&f=false

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Posted by Gramp on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 9:18 PM

Hardening of the arteries. 

A good way to chase talented people away to greener pastures. 

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Posted by greyhounds on Friday, January 12, 2018 3:24 PM

I'm going to do one more post on this thread before it slides off into oblivion.

wanswheel
“in order that traffic may freely move, both the carriers and this commission may be expected to cast about for some traffic which might properly be expected to bear higher rates” and thus cross-subsidize less remunerative rates, particularly on marginal routes. Railroad efforts to shift LCL traffic to more efficient containers threatened the ICC’s “mandate that rates and revenue must be redistributed in order that an adequate system of transportation be maintained.” 30

What the government didn't comprehend is that the truckers were going to take the lion's share of that freight if the rail system didn't get more efficient.  The truckers (then new technology) were causing a sea change of creative destruction.  By trying to bail out the marginal railroads the government hurt all railroads and, along with these companies, the government hurt the American economy and the American people.

It's important to note that the government did not have control over minimum rates until they gave themselves that power in 1920.  This control over minimum rates was largely what caused problems and drove the railroad industry to near financial ruin.  

As time went by our railroads became more efficient.  The adopted better equipment, locomotives and cars, better singnaling, better communications, better shop tools and methods, etc.  They tried to adopt intermodal containerization.  This improved efficiency reduced the costs of moving freight by rail.  When the railroads tried to use their reduced costs to compete with motor freight, barges, etc., they were blocked by the government which was trying to preserve an impossible to maintain status quo.

Look at the big decisions.  The government order to increase container rates to non competitive levels, the "Big John Hopper" case, and the "Ingot Molds" case.  All these involved railroads reducing their charges with the government economic regulators trying to hold rail rates high.  This prevented the US logistics system from achieving maxiumum efficiency and hurt us as a people.

It was this control over minimum rates, first seized in 1920, not maximum rates, that hurt in the long run.  (The government did whack the railroads hard on a needed rate increase before 1920.) 

 

 

"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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