UP 'Cold Train' status

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  • Member since
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UP 'Cold Train' status
Posted by MikeF90 on Thursday, September 13, 2018 3:35 PM

I wasn't able to find anything recent on the status of the ex-Railex facility in Wallula, WA. What piqued my curiosity is a couple of articles stating that UP 'plans' to purchase 1000 refrigerated boxcars, possibly more.

Progressive Railroading: https://www.progressiverailroading.com/union_pacific/news/Union-Pacific-to-acquire-1000-refrigerated-boxcars--55567 

Albany TimesUnion: https://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Railroad-s-boxcar-purchase-could-boost-Rotterdam-13224327.php

Travel time from WA to Rotterdam, NY is supposedly from four to eight days, depending on stops enroute. Construction Geek wonders if any single track segments northwest of the Overland Route will need an upgrade (or maybe they're just very underutilized today).

Does this plan sound real or is it just a 'trial balloon'?

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Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, September 13, 2018 4:59 PM

I believe it's very real.  And the UP is in the catbird's seat to make this huge market pay off big time.  I'm glad to read they're adding a container terminal at Wallula.  This will open up much more business at major cities such as Chicago and Atlanta where they don't have carload transfer facilities.

If they're on the ball they can load the reefer equipment in both directions.  California, which has more people than Canada, doesn't produce nearly enough red meat, poultry, and eggs for it population.  Oregon and Washington are in a similar situation.  UP can haul fruits and vegetables east and protein west.  That will be money in the bank.

This be progress in railroading.  A major reason for the diversion of perishables to truck was inane government economic regulations.  Those regs are now thankfully gone.  They never made any economic sense.

 

"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 David1005 on Thursday, September 13, 2018 7:02 PM

The UP purchase of refers is to replace the last of the PFE fleet, which is coming up on 50 years old. They may not have a lot of new business in mind. 

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Posted by CShaveRR on Friday, September 14, 2018 2:06 PM

When they treated these trains a little hotter than they do now, it was no problem to make the cross-country trip in five days.  If they stop adding and subtracting blocks, they might not have a problem with the transit time (and I'd be more concerned with CSX's caabilities than UP's, anyway).

The new reefers will probably have about double the capacity (tonnage) or half again the capacity (volume) as the old cars they'll replace.  Besides the old PFE fleet, there's that "Cold Express" fleet rehabbed from old Fruit Growers Express mechanical reefers, built between 1969 and 1973 (newest PFE cars were built in 1971 or 1972).  

Carl

Railroader Emeritus (practiced railroading for 46 years--and in 2010 I finally got it right!)

CAACSCOCOM--I don't want to behave improperly, so I just won't behave at all. (SM)

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Posted by JoeKoh on Friday, September 14, 2018 2:28 PM

Csx also runs other cars with the "salad shooter" cars.Nice to see the new cars with the added artwork on the side.

stay safe

Joe

Deshler Ohio-crossroads of the B&O Matt eats your fries.YUM! Clinton st viaduct undefeated against too tall trucks!!!(voted to be called the "Clinton St. can opener").

 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Friday, September 14, 2018 2:58 PM

I found a few other related articles; this one states that loads from Wallula and Delano, CA will be consolidated at Green River, WY.

https://www.railwayage.com/freight/washington-port-cold-connect-deal/

No wonder it takes at least four days. I guess they're going after less time-sensitive goods like citrus and carrots.

Other background:

http://www.union-bulletin.com/news/business/port-of-walla-walla-oks-land-sale-to-union-pacific/article_2733b726-3837-11e8-a261-7f0189e172f7.html

https://www.shipstreamline.com/

Anyone heard of LOUP before?

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, September 14, 2018 10:02 PM

The salad shooter on UP today had about 30 box cars intermixed with the reefers.  It has operated under a Z perishable Green River to Global 3 symbol for some time.  They have been hauling box cars since about the time UP took over Railex.  For a while they weren't running it on it's own, but consolidated into some intermodals.  It is possible from time to time to still see one with only reefers, but not lately thats not the norm. 

The empties used to go back as a unit under a Z symbol, but I haven't seen one for quite a while.  Some intermodals had reefers in them, which I took to be the empties, but lately it seems they are now moving in manifests.  Westbound, when they were operated as a Z on their own, they might have 2 or 3 loads once in a while.  I recall seeing a car or two of frozen fish listed in a train list once.

There's rumors of change coming.  Some management changes and attitudes have happened recently.  My supervisor told me one of the new chiefs is questioning the practice of holding trains for maximum tonnage.  Maybe the salad shooter might become a reefer only train again.

When the salad shooter was new, it was beating the service schedule to Proviso.  Everyone was happy about this until reality reared it's ugly head.  The reefer only train had an equipment top speed of 70mph and people were running it full out when possible.  That ended when it was realized that the loaded cars still came under the tons per operative brake restriction.  This limited the train's speed, usually to the 50-55 mph range depending on weight.  

Jeff 

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Posted by greyhounds on Saturday, September 15, 2018 8:39 PM

I never liked the RailEx business model of one or two perishable unit trains per week from Wallula and Delano.  You move perishables, and you keep them moving.  You do not hold them in a loading facility in order to aggregate the volume in to a trainload lot.

I do like the reported fact that UP is building a container transfer facility at Wallula.  This will open new destinations for them and increase their ability to aggregate in a more timely manner.  (Combine the carload with the containers in the same expedited train.)

Perishables are a large, potentially very profitable, market for the railroads.  A very large reason for the diversion of perishables to motor freight was inane government economic regulation.  That regulation is now gone.  But the railroads lost their human capital that knew how to move and market the business.  Getting that knowledge and expertise back is the main problem.

I envision three ways to move perishables by rail.  1) carload (used as an intermodal system), 2) containers (double stacked) and, 3) highway trailers moving TOFC.  Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages.

The carload system is very efficient on the rail.  Except, as Jeff pointed out, you run into the tons per operative brake issue.  Perishables are mostly water (think of oranges and watermelons) and they load heavy.  Heck fire, lettuce is mostly water.  So a carload only train is going to be a slowed down train.

Containers largely sidestep that issue.  But they run in to problems on the highway. (We're talking an intermodal movement here.)  A container on a chassis will weigh more than a standard highway trailer.  Since there are highway weight limits, you'll loose payload capacity with container vis a vis full highway movement in a trailer.

Highway trailers moving TOFC eliminate this particular weight problem.  But, they create problems on the rail.  They require much longer trains and add weight on the rail (while eliminating it on the highway) by requiring a higher tare weight to payload weight ratio on the rail.

What to do?  

I'd just let the customer select the best method for themself.  As the UP is apparently doing at Wallula, offer intermodal carload, intermodal container, and intermodal trailer.  Then run it fast.  There's big money out there.  Go get it.

And if they can add a carload, container, or trailer of tires (or whatever) to the trains without wrecking the schedule, do it.

 

"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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