News Wire: Regulators ask Class I railroads to explain service issues

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Posted by Brian Schmidt on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 11:08 AM

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are becoming increasingly concerned about the widespread deterioration in railroad service metrics amid complaints from shipper groups, who say the industry is mired in a slowdown that is delaying shipments of go...

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/03/20-federal-regulators-ask-class-i-railroads-to-explain-service-issues-amid-network-slowdown

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 12:41 PM

Could it be a pursuit of the almighty OR ( operating ratio ) instead of maximum profit per share of stock ?

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 1:59 PM

blue streak 1

Could it be a pursuit of the almighty OR ( operating ratio ) instead of maximum profit per share of stock ?

Whatever puts the most money in the investor's pockets the fastest...

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Posted by Ulrich on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 2:59 PM

We're all flooded by volume with no capacity available. With all this talk of automation and crewless this and driverless that, the crux of the problem, ironically, is 1) lack of manpower, 2) lack of resources to meet the current demand. But mostly its lack of people. Both CN and CP have contacted me recently about career opportunities with their organizations (that's how desperate they are!).. If I were 20 something again I'd jump at it.. Sure is a change from 1982 when I was told that my chances were slim to none and that slim had already left town.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 3:17 PM

It is a 3 fold problem.  1st off kids nowadays think working with your hands is dirty and nasty and almost beneath them.  Yet there are jobs that pay higher that require that kind of work than being a college graduate.  2nd the schools of today try and get all kids ready for college.  Not going to happen there are some kids that college is not an option for and since trades are not taught in schools anymore they are left out on what they can do for a job.  3.  The push to automate so many jobs has cost us so many more jobs.  Gone are the machinsts the mechanics the people that built things.  Yet those are the jobs in highest demand why things break and need repairs.  Around here a good machinst can make 30 an hour even if he is not CNC qualified why the need to be able to make parts is huge.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 6:14 PM

Shadow the Cats owner
It is a 3 fold problem.  1st off kids nowadays think working with your hands is dirty and nasty and almost beneath them.  Yet there are jobs that pay higher that require that kind of work than being a college graduate.  2nd the schools of today try and get all kids ready for college.  Not going to happen there are some kids that college is not an option for and since trades are not taught in schools anymore they are left out on what they can do for a job.  3.  The push to automate so many jobs has cost us so many more jobs.  Gone are the machinsts the mechanics the people that built things.  Yet those are the jobs in highest demand why things break and need repairs.  Around here a good machinst can make 30 an hour even if he is not CNC qualified why the need to be able to make parts is huge.

Mechanics these days are not really mechanics - they are parts replacers.  Machine spit out an error code which will identify the area of the 'failure', the 'mechanic' has been trained when X code happens the repair is replace JJ part - without understanding what X code is really identifying and why JJ part needs to be replaced rather than 'repaired.

The JJ part is a framismaximus at $600 a pop and it failed because a 2 cent E-clip broke.  Let's install a new framismaximus rather than diagnose the existing framismaximus and replace the broken E-clip.

         

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 6:40 PM

21st Century 'industry' in the Western world is all about outsourcing any operation that actually requires 'manufacture' of parts or systems to 3rd & 4th World locations where 'employees' are paid in pennys and not very many of them.

In the Western world the 1st and 2nd tier countrys have done away with all the skilled 'labor' and the apprentice positions where newcomers learned the skills necessary to eventually become 'skilled' labot.  In the railroad industry, a person would hire out as a Fireman, after working that position for a number of years they learned by osmosis to be in a position to accept the promotion to Locomotive Engineer with a wealth of OJT learning under their belt to be able to accept the responsibility.  Nowadays, a person is hired off the street, put through 6-8 weeks of 'classroom instruction' with a limited amount of hands on demonstrations and then sent to the field to begin their OJT training to become a 'Conductor'.  The OJT phase is nominally about two months.  A year (or less) after being promoted to 'Conductor', the person is then headed to Engineer's School where the basics of locomotive operation, air brake operation, train handling etc. is taught for 2 to 3 months, then it is back out to the field for their OJT as a locomotive engineer.  All told you are looking at someone going from off the street to operating a 20K ton train all in about a year and a half.  Real experience for all the challenges of operating that 20K ton train safely under all kinds of conditions.

 

         

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 1:01 AM

My initial trainman's training was 3 weeks classroom work. Then 6 months OJT.  Some where around the middle of OJT was another week of classroom work.

I had almost 6 years in before my turn came for engine service.  (There were some a few years before I hired out who finished conductor's training on a Friday and started engineer's training the following Monday.)  One week of class room work.  Then 6 months of OJT.  About half-way through another two weeks of class room work.

The trainmen's class room work was mostly rules.  The engineer's training the first week was basic mechanical and air brakes.  The mid-way class room was some simulator training and rules.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 7:02 AM

jeffhergert
My initial trainman's training was 3 weeks classroom work. Then 6 months OJT.  Some where around the middle of OJT was another week of classroom work.

I had almost 6 years in before my turn came for engine service.  (There were some a few years before I hired out who finished conductor's training on a Friday and started engineer's training the following Monday.)  One week of class room work.  Then 6 months of OJT.  About half-way through another two weeks of class room work.

The trainmen's class room work was mostly rules.  The engineer's training the first week was basic mechanical and air brakes.  The mid-way class room was some simulator training and rules.  

Jeff

The fine edge that today's Class 1's have on their T&E manpower doesn't allow for 'long lead times' when additional T&E manpower is needed.

Back in the late 70's Chessie system 'lost sight' of the hiring/retirement stats for the Baltimore Division.  Within the span of a month or so, roughly 50% of the Engineers on the division retired - they had all hired out immediately post WW II and all retired in the same time frame.  The immediate 'fix' was to bring virtually all of the Road Foreman of Engines from across the system to Baltimore to operate the various Yard Jobs (at the time there were close to 60) thus freeing up a large number of Engineers that had road experience to be forced on the road to keep things moving while a Engineer Training program was established and staffed with both students and instructors - on a hurry up basis.  Over the following year the RFE's were released to go back to their home territories as graduates of the training program assumed their turns.

         

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 8:37 AM

BaltACD
In the Western world the 1st and 2nd tier countrys have done away with all the skilled 'labor' and the apprentice positions where newcomers learned the skills necessary to eventually become 'skilled' labot.

Though true in US for the most part, your remark is not true in the entire "Western world."

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Posted by Ulrich on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 10:52 AM

Germany has a very robust trades and apprenticeship program.. of course.. that does us little good over here. Good for them though. 

In part automation, or the anticipation thereof, is partly responsible. Kids who are choosing  careers now are listening to the "experts" about crewless trains and driverless trucks..and turning their attention to other industries. Maybe we're finding out how irreplaceable those supposedly replaceable people really are. 

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Posted by PJS1 on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 11:21 AM

charlie hebdo
  Though true in US for the most part, your remark is not true in the entire "Western world." 

Speaking for only my part of Texas, since it is the only place that I know a little it about, there numerous opportunities for young people to acquire technical skills training. 

When I was in school, many moons ago, we had a robust vocational education program.  I spent the last two years of high school studying drafting and design. technology.  Half a day was spent on the drafting boards, and the other half studying academic subjects.  

The programs that existed in the high schools when I was coming of age in the 50s are still around.  But the location has changed.  For the most part, at least in Texas, they have been moved to the community colleges and/or Texas State Technical College.  The programs that they offer help people develop the skills for really good jobs. 

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 11:38 AM

Back when I was going through junior high and high school, "shop" was a regular part of the curriculum.  In junior high it was mostly wood shop, but included drafting - some of which skills I use to this day.  The girls had home economics (no Title IX in those days).

In high school, I think the moniker was "industrial arts," but did include auto shop, where the students actually worked on cars.

That was in MI.  I now live in NY, where for at least the past 40 years the teaching of trades has been the realm of the vocational/technical schools (vo-techs).  High school juniors and seniors have the option of spending half their school day at the vo-tech, where students can study everything from construction and architecture to hospitality and tourism.

 

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 11:46 AM

JPS1

 

 
charlie hebdo
  Though true in US for the most part, your remark is not true in the entire "Western world." 

 

Speaking for only my part of Texas, since it is the only place that I know a little it about, there numerous opportunities for young people to acquire technical skills training. 

When I was in school, many moons ago, we had a robust vocational education program.  I spent the last two years of high school studying drafting and design. technology.  Half a day was spent on the drafting boards, and the other half studying academic subjects.  

The programs that existed in the high schools when I was coming of age in the 50s are still around.  But the location has changed.  For the most part, at least in Texas, they have been moved to the community colleges and/or Texas State Technical College.  The programs that they offer help people develop the skills for really good jobs. 

 

Yes, the community colleges do well with technical training.  However, the high schools (at least here in Iowa, especially the smaller schools) focus more and more about sending graduates to 4 year academic colleges.  Part is due to budgetary concerns, but a lot is the attitude you have to have a 4 year degree.  . 

Many articles in the newspaper have "experts" starting to concede that many don't need a 4 year degree and that more should be invested in community college and vocational tech training.  But the "experts" always seem to still add in some way that a 4 year degree is best and everyone should still try to get one.  It's really no wonder the "experts" feel this way.  The ones usually cited in the articles are academics with an interest to keep enrollment in the colleges and universities up. 

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 12:22 PM

jeffhergert
But the "experts" always seem to still add in some way that a 4 year degree is best...

Punchline to an old joke - "what does a college graduate with a liberal arts degree say? 'Do want fries with that?'"

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 1:29 PM

Sometimes a family member may insist that a high school graduate go to college. A friend of my brother who graduated two years ahead of me began going to a trade school--and his aunt insisted that he go to college instead. I do not rememberf how long he went, but he did not finish. He began working his father's farm, and did well. A few years ago, he was the mayor of my home town (he took the two-year vocational agriculture course when he was in high school).

My brother also took the agriculture course--and went on to college and graduate school, and ended up in some physics work.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 1:58 PM

tree68
Punchline to an old joke - "what does a college graduate with a liberal arts degree say? 'Do want fries with that?'"

 
I guess that means that four-year colleges should drop liberal arts and humanities and turn themselves into glorified trade schools.
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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 2:18 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
I guess that means that four-year colleges should drop liberal arts and humanities and turn themselves into glorified trade schools.

Hardly - More to the point is that a college degree shouldn't be seen as the be-all and end-all goal.  As has been pointed out, oftimes it seems like going on to college is seen as the only acceptable goal out of high school.  A BA in Underwater Basket Weaving may be a college degree, but it has limited application in the real world - unless your life goal is to teach underwater basket weaving.

Somebody still has to hammer nails, milk cows, and dig ditches.  Of course, we seem to have "outsourced" a lot of that, too...  

 

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Posted by Ulrich on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 3:28 PM

But as a parent I'm glad my kids are college bound. They can do whatever they when they're done.. but nobody ever regretted getting a degree in something practical they didn't have to pay for. My 21 year old nephew recently graduated from college, and he's making 80K as an engineer right out of the gate.. My own son is going the engineering route as well.. Daughter not so sure.. wants med school but a little early to tell. College is fine provided the student doesn't graduate with a ton of debt.. more than  one or two microbiology PhDs driving truck to pay off their student loans.. not too smart in my opinion. 

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 7:35 PM

tree68

 

 

Hardly - More to the point is that a college degree shouldn't be seen as the be-all and end-all goal.  As has been pointed out, oftimes it seems like going on to college is seen as the only acceptable goal out of high school.  A BA in Underwater Basket Weaving may be a college degree, but it has limited application in the real world - unless your life goal is to teach underwater basket weaving.

Somebody still has to hammer nails, milk cows, and dig ditches.  Of course, we seem to have "outsourced" a lot of that, too...  

 

 

 

I recently read a pair of articles/blogs/whatever (can't find them now) on liberal arts.  One was lamenting the fact that STEM educations are lacking in the liberal arts.  While the technical degree is useful, so are many of the more social sciences.   May have been about dealing with people in general and people from other cultures - I forget the specifics.

Another one was (I think) about Penn State's school of medicine and its requirement for liberal arts courses. Same gist, pretty much. A complete education needs to be well rounded, IMO. 

 

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 9:03 PM

When I was in engineering school, we had to take at least 1 liberal arts course each semester.  English was mandatory for both semesters of freshman year, plus 2 others that year.  Most of us chose a couple semesters of Economics, because it was somewhat math-based and had some graphs. 

Later on I did something else that was less structured (for sure!) and more people-oriented.  As the Russian General Alekseyev said in Tom Clancy's book, Red Storm Rising: "Numbers have their own perfection, but people remain people no matter what we try to do with them." 

But "I are an engineer" - see the Virginia Engineering T-Shirt at: https://photo.frostnet.net/chris/photos/2000_2001/imgc_20132b.jpeg.small.html  

That said, my wife is involved in a program to get high school girls involved in the construction trades.  It's universal that there's a shortage of people willing and able to do that kind of work.  Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" is doing a lot to persuade people of the value of those jobs despite his role in perpetuating that stereotype - especially the younger ones - as is the "This Old House" crew. 

- PDN. 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 9:13 PM

One of my pet peeves was when I was in Engineering College, there was a big deal from the experts that we had to take some liberal arts to "round out" our education but I never heard them pushing any courses for their liberal arts students to learn anything about how things work. I don't resent taking some L.A. courses but I wish more "educated" people appreciated what is required to make things work properly. Doe anyone wonder where the FIU bridge designers went to school?

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 9:39 PM

Bear in mind that I'm not knocking liberal arts courses - I had to take them, too, and don't regret any of them.

As Electroliner points out, a liberal arts degree too often has little substance beyond those "arts."

Which is why I joke about underwater basket weaving.

The worst part about a LA degree is that many of them are building up huge debt, and still don't have a marketable skill...

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Posted by ruderunner on Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:57 AM

Balt, going to have to call you out about your mechanic statement. It most definitely is not code blank means replacing part blank.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:04 AM

ruderunner
Balt, going to have to call you out about your mechanic statement. It most definitely is not code blank means replacing part blank.

You have experienced knowledgable mechanics that have gained their experience with proper training as vehicles moved from the pre-EPA days through the introduction of computer aids to todays vehicles that are almost totally computer dependent - they have the knowledge and skills to fully diagnose and repair the problems.

Then you have the Millenial mechanic that is a parts replacer.

         

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:36 AM

BaltACD
Then you have the Millenial mechanic that is a parts replacer.

Not to mention that many items, including cars, are built to be fixed exactly that way.

Once integrated circuits found their way into electronics, individual part replacement became a non-starter.  And that applies to anything that uses them.

It's amazing how many folks have no idea how to solder a part into a circuit.  Drop a Heathkit in front of them and they will have no idea how to proceed.

When I had to have the engine in my truck replaced (long story), the mechanics misrouted one wire, which ended up grounding out.  It took my usual shop a couple of visits to finally sort out the problem.  The analyzer only knows what it sees, which may be only peripherally related to the actual problem.

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:44 AM

tree68
It's amazing how many folks have no idea how to solder a part into a circuit. Drop a Heathkit in front of them and they will have no idea how to proceed.

And there's a lot of folks that have no clue how to sync their phones to their cars. Technology evolves.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, March 22, 2018 9:39 AM

zugmann
 
tree68
It's amazing how many folks have no idea how to solder a part into a circuit. Drop a Heathkit in front of them and they will have no idea how to proceed.

 

And there's a lot of folks that have no clue how to sync their phones to their cars. Technology evolves.

 




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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, March 22, 2018 9:48 AM

Murphy Siding
Why did you replace your flashy cartoon avatars with a portrait of Edger Allen Poe on a Monday morning at the office?

That's Keith Flick from "B: The Beginning".  New anime on Netflix.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:06 AM

zugmann
 
Murphy Siding
Why did you replace your flashy cartoon avatars with a portrait of Edger Allen Poe on a Monday morning at the office?

 

That's Keith Flick from "B: The Beginning".  New anime on Netflix.

 

Ha! I had to Google that just to see what it meant. The program sounds as dark as the avatar. On the good side, in my quest for information I found my new word for the day: archipelagic. I have to admit, it's usage is somewhat limited.

"Hey you kids! Get off my archipelagic lawn!"

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