Former Trains Editor Mark Hemphill to Head Uinta Basin Railway Project for Rio Grande Pacific Corp.

1673 views
29 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Allentown, PA
  • 9,565 posts
Former Trains Editor Mark Hemphill to Head Uinta Basin Railway Project for Rio Grande Pacific Corp.
Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Sunday, August 18, 2019 8:44 PM

Saw this on one of my news feeds on Friday.  The PR release seems to have been Aug. 15th.  I suspect I wouldn't get any thanks from Kalmbach by providing the direct links to the publications where the announcement appeared - even though it hasn't shown up here yet - but they can be found by searching for "hemphill uinta basin railway", only without the quotation marks.  

Here's a link to HDR's impressive proposal for the engineering work: 

http://scic-utah.org/storage/app/uploads/public/5cd/1d3/a81/5cd1d3a81a5c0354821854.pdf 

Although I don't know anything else about the project or the territory, it will be interesting to see how this one goes with the environmental permitting, including archeological resources and the Native American community, as well as the usual ROW acquisition issues, etc.

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 4,247 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, August 18, 2019 9:04 PM

His association with the project seems to add some legitimacy to what appeared to be a dream fantacy of the local counties.

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Allentown, PA
  • 9,565 posts
Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Sunday, August 18, 2019 9:21 PM

Also appears to be some real money and serious organization behind the effort. 

From reading the HDR proposal, some of those involved worked on the Alaska - Alberta rail line proposal, too.

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
  • Member since
    May, 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 12,206 posts
Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, August 18, 2019 9:42 PM

      Impressive is right! In my job I have to sit through a lot of presentations that are poorly done and downright boring. Based on what I read there, I think I'd enjoy an all day presentation on this project. 

     I'd say an advantage that Mark would have is his great communication skills, as evidenced by his success at Trains Magazine, and his participation in this forum. Our oldest son was a communications major and that education has done well for him. The proposal shows a lot of work put into it by those communicating types of minds. 


     The link says "HDR recently achieved a US patent for its “Infinity Loop” design for terminals/transloads for crude oil and other bulk products." Can anybody explain what an infinity loop is? Google was no help. 

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 8,227 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 18, 2019 10:09 PM

Murphy Siding
The link says "HDR recently achieved a US patent for its “Infinity Loop” design for terminals/transloads for crude oil and other bulk products." Can anybody explain what an infinity loop is?

https://www.hdrinc.com/portfolio/infinity-loop-rail-design

Watch the video at the end, too.

  • Member since
    May, 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 12,206 posts
Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, August 18, 2019 10:39 PM

Overmod

 

 
Murphy Siding
The link says "HDR recently achieved a US patent for its “Infinity Loop” design for terminals/transloads for crude oil and other bulk products." Can anybody explain what an infinity loop is?

 

https://www.hdrinc.com/portfolio/infinity-loop-rail-design

Watch the video at the end, too.

 

Thanks. That looks like the plan for somebody's dream HO layout. I found myself somewhat mesmerized by watching the green train and the red train.

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Allentown, PA
  • 9,565 posts
Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Monday, August 19, 2019 3:12 AM

Thanks for providing that link, Overmod.  It would be fun to draw up a schematic of that - kind of hard for me to visualize from the scale and perspective of the illustration.  Who says there's nothing new in this business?

I agree that it has similarities to some basic model railroad track plans.  I wonder how long until somebody builds one . . . with due regard to the patent rights, of course Whistling

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • 521 posts
Posted by Bruce Kelly on Monday, August 19, 2019 9:34 AM

A more detailed explanation of the functionality and advantages of the Infinity Loop, in the words of the two HDR employees who conceived it, can be found here:

https://www.railwayage.com/freight/class-i/hdrs-infinity-loop-earns-national-award/?RAchannel=home

Paul, thanks for raising the awareness here about Mark's new position with the Uinta project. I held off from doing so myself because I assumed the Trains staff might be in the process of interviewing him for a more in-depth, personal account of what's transpiring. Perhaps not. Mark being a former Trains Editor, you'd think his appointment to such a prominent role in what could turn out to be one of the most significant builds of an all-new rail line in the U.S. in the past half-century would have garnered immediate attention on this site's news page.

 

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 8,227 posts
Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 19, 2019 10:23 AM

Bruce, thanks for the link.

Bruce Kelly
Mark being a former Trains Editor, you'd think his appointment to such a prominent role in what could turn out to be one of the most significant builds of an all-new rail line in the U.S. in the past half-century would have garnered immediate attention on this site's news page.

I wasn't too surprised at this, and I don't think you should be, either.  The results of the power shakeup in the organization extend further than we've been told, and are only visible in the same way George O. Smith used in figuring out how uranium fission worked during wartime.

I am only sad that Mr. Hemphill himself is unlikely to comment here, either on the Uinta project or on affairs at Kalmbach.

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • 1,760 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, August 19, 2019 10:49 AM

Was Hemphill's departure from Kalmbach less than celebratory? 

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 19,489 posts
Posted by tree68 on Monday, August 19, 2019 11:19 AM

He took a railroad consulting job in the Mideast.

As far as I know, he's always been a straight-up guy.  I was friends with his wife on FB for quite a while - we have some shared interests.

His departure caused quite an uproar here on the forums, where he was a regular contributor while at Trains.  Not because he was leaving, but because forum members were asked to delete their posts in which he was quoted.  I don't believe he ever posted anything controversial that would have affected his hiring on as a consultant, but he wanted to make sure.

A lot of long-dead threads suddenly popped up to the top.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • 1,760 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, August 19, 2019 11:39 AM

When was that?  Must have been before my time.  Who made the deletion requests,  Hemphill or Kalbach? 

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 16,765 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, August 19, 2019 11:41 AM

tree68
He took a railroad consulting job in the Mideast.

Complements of the US Army Reserve in Iraq

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 19,489 posts
Posted by tree68 on Monday, August 19, 2019 12:42 PM

charlie hebdo
Hemphill or Kalbach? 

Mark.  It was as much as 10 years ago.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: South Central,Ks
  • 6,360 posts
Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, August 19, 2019 4:35 PM

BaltACD
tree68

Complements of the US Army Reserve in Iraq

Do not remember the exact timeline; but I think, it was shortly after the publication in TRAINS of a really interesting article on the situation, and conditions of the Iraqi Railroad System; its conditions in the aftermath of the '98 Operation Desert>Fox .and the start{2001) of Operations of Enduring Freedom>Iraqi Freedom(?).

Mark Hemphill's byline, and Forum name :[ Railwayman] always indicated to the readers that his comments, and information were always well written, thoughtful, and interesting.                   His was another of those names that have dropped out of sight around here, and missed. This new project sounds like something of interest, not to mention worth following around here...My 2 Cents

Sam

 

 


 

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • From: Valparaiso, In
  • 5,494 posts
Posted by MP173 on Monday, August 19, 2019 4:54 PM

I really miss Mark as Editor and on this forum.

His days of Editor were a combination of exception reporting on the industry and a healthy dose of being a "fan".  

There was an article he wrote on the decline of the Southern Pacific (I believe in California) which outlined very clearly the issues with railroading.  I need to find it and read it.

I am sure his skills are very useful in his current position.

Ed

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: South Central,Ks
  • 6,360 posts
Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, August 19, 2019 7:03 PM

In the light of some of the pervious comments in this Thread. re: Mark Hemphill. Not to mention some research done by a Good FriendBow .

  I think it is appropriate to post the following letter from its publication in TRAINS, May 2005:

"Honey, I drove over the cat:

                        observations on my career as a railroad writer"

By Mark W. Hemphill     Trains, May  2005

"...This is the last column I will be able to send to TRAINS for some time, for reasons I'll explain in a few minutes. That makes it a difficult column to write, not because I have so much to say that I want every opportunity to say it, but because I loathe writing. Hardest thing I've ever done. I'd rather tell my wife I accidentally backed the truck over her cat than write a column. Unlike conversation, writing commits a writer to a permanent record. It reflects upon the writer's knowledge, logic, and sensibility, plus the ability to express that without losing the reader en route, so most of what I have written I'd be pleased to see dissolve into air.

I think this column begs me to say something to sum my observations on railroading, but I have nothing to offer that's profoundly new. Railroading is an old business, and almost all of its stones have been uncovered. I explored the themes I thought were important when I sat in the editor's chair, so instead of revisiting them, I think I'll try to explain the limits of what I know.

The first place I go wrong when I write about railroads is when I assume I know something grand about their business, technology, of history. I know very little of the history except some trivia and the broad themes. The technology, about the same--any expert in track of diesel engines or signaling can spin me in circles. As for the business of railroading, I'm learning more every day. It's amazing how the most cursory knowledge can suffice in casual conversation, until one goes to work for a railroad. There, the exigencies of operations, safety, and commodity-priced competition blow away the hot air. The complexity and difficulty of moving traffic 24/7/365, and making money doing it, was like nothing I had ever experienced. It's a brutally tough business, and if someone asks me on my deathbed the greatest accomplishments of my working life, I would without hesitation answer, "marking up, making it past my derail, never getting anyone hurt." These refer to the date on which a new-hire is judged ready to work on his own instead of as a student, the successful completion of the probationary period, and never committing a rules violation that resulted in somebody's injury.

The second place I go wrong when I write about railroads is when I assume we all agree on their purpose. There's very little agreement among us as to what railroads are supposed to do. To the investor, it's earn money. To the shipper, it's provide a transportation service at a lower cost. To the employees, it's respect and reward their contribution. To the taxpayers, it's reduce their taxes. To the rail enthusiasts, it's affirm their passion. Is it as clear to you as it is to me that these purposes can be incompatible?

The third place I go wrong is when I assume that readers understand the limitations of railroads. I think we've all been seduced by the efficiency of the steel wheel on steel rail, and when we observe that the largest share of freight revenue in the U.S. belongs to trucking, we tend to believe that something malicious or wrong is at work, instead of coming to the obvious conclusion that trucks do something that people want. Yes, the railroad is fantastically efficient at the level of a trainload. At the level of a carload, it's often much less efficient than a truck.

The fourth place I go wrong is when I assume we all have the same worldview. At the most basic level, some of us want a world of equal outcomes, where in spite of the accident of birth circumstances we all end up with similar wealth, similar freedom, and similar rights. Others want a world of equal opportunity, where the wealth, freedom, and rights one accrues at the end is a direct reflection of each person's opportunism and hard work. Railroads reflect these world views with remarkable faith: Consider what railroads were supposed to do in the regulated era vs. what they're supposed to do now.

In sum, this is a difficult business writing about railroads. If I'm at all to say anything meaningful, I first have to plow past the belief systems of myself and the readers. It's much easier doing other things, and my hat is off to all those who came before me, my contemporaries, and those who will come after me, who have used the written word to impart so much value to me and others.

By the time you open this magazine, I'll be in Baghdad, Iraq, working for the U.S. State Department's Iraq Reconstruction Management Office as deputy senior consultant-rail. I'm following in the footsteps of Gordon Mott and Rick Degman, who have worked with the professional railroaders of the Iraqi Republic Railway to set up their system as a modern, efficient, and necessary component of Iraqi democratization and freedom. Rick Degman you may recall as the author of "U.S. Railroader in Iraq," in the July 2004 issue of TRAINS. He and Gordon have left big shoes to fill, and as I write this in late February, five days before departure, I have not a little trepidation that I'll be able to meet this enormous challenge. If it's possible in the future, I'll share what I learn in Iraq. It will undoubtedly change the way I view railroading...".

                                                                          

[This speaks to the request he made to remove his previous commentaries, and to the why the request was made. As he prepared to go to Iraq in service to this Country in 2005.]

Sam

 

 


 

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Allentown, PA
  • 9,565 posts
Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Monday, August 19, 2019 9:15 PM

Despite Mark's modesty in the above column, he's the 'smartest guy in the room' on most things railroad.  Certainly the breadth and depth of his knowledge on so many railroad subjects is not often matched or exceeded. 

However, being in charge of the construction of a new rail line - especially here in the U.S. with all the challenges that entails - will be a new 'hat' for him.  I don't believe he's had that role before, and that may be the attraction of it to him.  

I believe his strong suit is operations, and I'd like to see what he has to say about PSR.  I don't think he would be solidly for or against, but rather provide an insightful, analytical, balanced, and informed perspective.  Maybe some day . . .

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 14,912 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 1:17 AM

PSR should be called Asset Utilization Railroading, AUR.  As opposed to Customer Responsive Railroading, CRR.  Either can be done with precision  -- or sloppyness!

  • Member since
    September, 2002
  • From: ShelbyTwp., Michigan
  • 392 posts
Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 12:29 PM
Looks like the Rio Grande will be getting a revival
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
  • Member since
    October, 2003
  • 7,958 posts
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 6:26 AM

The link’s photo in Paul North’s initial post in this thread doesn’t look anything like I remember Mark to look like, but the signature does.

Mark’s sudden departure as TRAINS editor quite some time ago was probably a smart move on his part, as correspondence from him led me to believe his professionalism was not compatible with Kalmbach’s professionalism and clashes in that arena were inevitable.

The TRAINS staff has had some surprise changes in the last two decade, but changes seem to have stabilized for the time being, with the three current Associate Editors possibly eyeing a succession promotion when Wrinn retires in less than a decade from now.

But, what I find alarming is the lack of a cover price increase for years and years now.  With the inflation phenomena a magazine cannot continue to exist forever without either an increased efficiency and / or a price increase unless it has a corresponding increase in readers that lessens the per copy cost of producing it, which I don’t believe is the case with TRAINS.

Mark’s present position may do him well, and likely he will have much success in it if the effort excels, and I wish him well!  But, I wouldn’t count on him for a TRAINS interview.   He likely will delegate that to someone else, if his bad memories will even allow any communication with his ex- incompatible ideology.

Hey, anyone know how Mark’s last name is pronounced?  Is it Hem-fill or Hemp-hill?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

  • Member since
    September, 2017
  • 1,760 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 10:38 AM

KP.  We can always depend on you to see things as they were,  not a sugar-coated view.  Sounds like Mark made his exit at an opportune time. 

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 19,489 posts
Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 7:45 PM

K. P. Harrier
But, what I find alarming is the lack of a cover price increase for years and years now.  With the inflation phenomena a magazine cannot continue to exist forever without either an increased efficiency and / or a price increase unless it has a corresponding increase in readers that lessens the per copy cost of producing it, which I don’t believe is the case with TRAINS.

Pick up a copy of Trains today and compare it to the size of Trains 20 years ago and you'll know why.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Allentown, PA
  • 9,565 posts
Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 9:09 PM

There's a lot more advertising by the industrial manufacturers these days, like track maintenance equipment.  That added revenue revenue might be covering some of the increased costs.

Do they still have to publish the Audit Bureau of Circulation figures?  That might provide some insight into the actual paid subscription numbers ~ readership. 

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
  • Member since
    March, 2006
  • From: I see volcanoes.
  • 117 posts
Posted by mbkcs on Thursday, September 05, 2019 12:17 AM

"Hey, anyone know how Mark’s last name is pronounced?  Is it Hem-fill or Hemp-hill?"

It's Hemp-hill.

  • Member since
    March, 2006
  • From: I see volcanoes.
  • 117 posts
Posted by mbkcs on Thursday, September 05, 2019 1:06 AM

Larry, still friends. Just not on facebook very often and definitely not here very often.

  • Member since
    June, 2001
  • From: Lombard (west of Chicago), Illinois
  • 13,338 posts
Posted by CShaveRR on Thursday, September 05, 2019 2:26 PM

Hi, Tina!  Congratulations to Mark!  I hope your projects are going well.

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)

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 19,489 posts
Posted by tree68 on Thursday, September 05, 2019 3:15 PM

CShaveRR
Hi, Tina!

A hearty second on that!

All the best with the new endeavor!

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    March, 2006
  • From: I see volcanoes.
  • 117 posts
Posted by mbkcs on Thursday, September 05, 2019 7:40 PM

Thanks, Carl. I will pass that on. I do follow you on facebook. I've just not been on there very often. I'm still working on the musical, but taking time to prepare for our move to yet another state. oh, the adventure continues, eh?

 

  • Member since
    March, 2006
  • From: I see volcanoes.
  • 117 posts
Posted by mbkcs on Thursday, September 05, 2019 7:41 PM
Thanks, Larry.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy