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UP You Have An Opportunity.. Now Make It Happen!

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UP You Have An Opportunity.. Now Make It Happen!
Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 10:50 AM
 

Combing through this mornings transportation news I came across this article. Savage a 3PL is building a new IM ramp in Pocatello, ID. Though the target is international markets via the ports at SeaTac. This terminal sits adjacent to prime ag producing country. Greyhounds has mentioned this plenty times in the past of putting a ramp in these vicinities. Well UP has a chance to now go after the domestic traffic. Savage will build and OPERATE this terminal inside UP's current yard. The plan currently is to ship 150 containers per week to the Northwest Alliance ports of Seattle and Tacoma. While this is geared for export. The domestic potential is even greater.

Map of Idaho Resources, agriculture, industry

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 12:41 PM

     OK. That's neat. I never would have imagined that you could send containers of hay from Idaho to asia and turn a profit.

      Does the article make it sound like this operation is only loading the containers onto railcars? Someone else- the producer?- fills those conatiners with hay, etc.?

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 12:59 PM
 

Murphy Siding

     OK. That's neat. I never would have imagined that you could send containers of hay from Idaho to asia and turn a profit.

      Does the article make it sound like this operation is only loading the containers onto railcars? Someone else- the producer?- fills those conatiners with hay, etc.?

 

Yes the hay is loaded at the producer. Sounds like Savage is just building a ramp within UP's current yard. At 150 containers a week. Probably a few side stackers on a gravel pad?. With these low volumes no need to buy a Mi-Jack crane.

 
 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 1:13 PM

For those who don't know (like me), 3PL stands for Third Party Logistics.  I'm surprised that Savage is getting into this.  The few operations of theirs' that I'm aware of are more industrial.  They haul petcoke from the refineries around Torrance/San Pedro, CA and use 11-axle gravel trains to haul rocksalt from the Detroit Salt Mine.

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Posted by VerMontanan on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 1:20 PM

Sounds similar to a facility opened in North Dakota:

https://www.agweek.com/business/6765078-Minots-new-intermodal-rail-ramp-%E2%80%98ramps-up%E2%80%99

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Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, March 25, 2021 12:45 AM

Murphy Siding
I never would have imagined that you could send containers of hay from Idaho to asia and turn a profit.

I see this a just plain great for a lot of reasons.  I'm also disturbed that the UP's marketing people couldn't/didn't put this together themselves.  They're allowing other people to control the future of the railroad.  Oh well, it's better than nothing.

Did anyone else work on a hay rack behind a baler.  The bales weighed around 75 pounds.  They'd first mow the hay and then mechanically rake it into rows.

Then they'd hook up: 1) a farm tractor, 2) the baler, 3) a hay rack.  On the rack were often two teen age boys.  Our job was to pull the bales out of the baler with a hook and stack them on the hay rack as it moved through the field.  We'd load up one rack, drop it, and hook on another empty rack.  Then we had to unload 'em into the barn.  It's far more automated now.

That work, along with hoeing watermelons, made me opt for college.

 

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Posted by adkrr64 on Thursday, March 25, 2021 5:13 AM

The local farmer where I grew up had a John Deere baler that would automatically toss the bales into a wagon. The farmer could tilt the mechanism to compensate when going around corners, but sometimes would miss. 

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, March 25, 2021 7:24 AM

greyhounds
Did anyone else work on a hay rack behind a baler.  The bales weighed around 75 pounds.  They'd first mow the hay and then mechanically rake it into rows.

Indeed, I did.  During summer vacation one year I joined my cousins baling hay for a week - made $19!  Learned how to stack the bales so they'd stay stacked on the trip from the field to the barn.

Didn't work in the mow, fortunately - that's hot, dusty work.  

"Kick" balers were all the vogue for quite a while.  Hopefully the baler was doing a good job tying the bales or you got a heck of a mess.

The baler I dealt with had a metering problem - you'd get a nice "pony" bale out - short and easy to pitch - but the baler made up for it with the next bale, which would be long, heavy, and unwieldy.  

These days most farmers around here are doing the big round or square bales.  No pitching them.

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, March 25, 2021 8:04 AM

My first experience with harvesting hay was a mowing machine with a seven foot sicyle. We then raked the hay and with a 'buck rake' we pushed it onto a stacker where the hay was thrown up onto what was to become a 'hay stack'. 

The balers came later.

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Posted by MP173 on Thursday, March 25, 2021 9:17 AM

Started out in 6th grade at $1 per hour....BIG MONEY!

Ended my hay baling career going into Senior year of HS (1972) @ $2.50 to $3.00 per hour.  BIGGER MONEY!  I was in demand and would often work 5 days per week when the alfalfa was cut - usually 3 or 4 cuttings per season.  Easy money was the straw baling, much lighter.

Tough aspect of the job was stacking the bales in the barn - attics were brutally hot and dusty.

One of my favorite memories was working for a dairy farmer and at the end of the day he would pull pure milk from his dairy cooler (just milked) and add chocolate powder.  What a drink at the end of a hot day.

Greyhound, I do not see UP or others adding these types of facilities.  Not in their bandwidth...but a regional or shortline could do it, as they look for transportation revenue, rather than railroad revenue.  I do think these are better served by 3rd party providers that can tap into other aspects of the supply chain.

 

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, March 25, 2021 9:47 AM

diningcar
My first experience with harvesting hay was a mowing machine with a seven foot sicyle. We then raked the hay and with a 'buck rake' we pushed it onto a stacker where the hay was thrown up onto what was to become a 'hay stack'. 

We have old order Amish in this area - we get to see that first hand.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, March 25, 2021 11:22 AM

greyhounds
 
Murphy Siding
I never would have imagined that you could send containers of hay from Idaho to asia and turn a profit.

 

I see this a just plain great for a lot of reasons.  I'm also disturbed that the UP's marketing people couldn't/didn't put this together themselves.  They're allowing other people to control the future of the railroad.  Oh well, it's better than nothing.

Did anyone else work on a hay rack behind a baler.  The bales weighed around 75 pounds.  They'd first mow the hay and then mechanically rake it into rows.

Then they'd hook up: 1) a farm tractor, 2) the baler, 3) a hay rack.  On the rack were often two teen age boys.  Our job was to pull the bales out of the baler with a hook and stack them on the hay rack as it moved through the field.  We'd load up one rack, drop it, and hook on another empty rack.  Then we had to unload 'em into the barn.  It's far more automated now.

That work, along with hoeing watermelons, made me opt for college.

 

 

That operation was more refined than where I stacked bales. We had to pick them up off the ground, bounce them on a knee to get enough oomph to throw them on a hay wagon about 4 feet high. The guys on the wagon then stacked them. We also had to deal with the occasional rattle snake!

     I'd have to believe that some of those containers are going to smell bad after being used to haul hay all the way to Asia.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, March 25, 2021 2:10 PM

Murphy Siding
That operation was more refined than where I stacked bales. We had to pick them up off the ground, bounce them on a knee to get enough oomph to throw them on a hay wagon about 4 feet high. The guys on the wagon then stacked them.

Did that, too, if the wagons got too far behind with unloading, the baler would simply dump them on the ground.  Sure does a number on a pair of jeans, though.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Thursday, March 25, 2021 6:27 PM

I also did the stacking on the haywagon and again in the mow. I did not grow up on a farm but "hired out" to help with hay. Hard work. But in my small Northeastern WI home town it paid off in the fall on the football field, at least.

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Posted by MP218 on Friday, March 26, 2021 3:42 PM

There is demand for agricultural products in the Pacific rim.  High rates of empty contaiers returning to Asia make for cheap freight.  Currently, the manufacturers are often demanding containers return empty to get reloaded faster than messing with loading and unloading.  This has created shortages of containers for loading of ag products. 

Afalfa hay would not be shipped over in the small bales of our younger days.  Most hay is not handled by hand anymore.  The horse market is one stronghold for small bales.   It would be baled in large rectangular bales in sizes up to 4 x 4 x 8 ft, weighing up to a ton.  It is then compressed once more to reduce volume before container loading.  Grass seed growers in the Pacific NW have long baled their grass straw after seed harvest, compressed it and sent it to Japan and Asia.  Main ag exports from the Minot terminal would likely be dry peas, edible beans which are popular foods.  Export Grain and oil seeds used for specialty human consumption are often shipped to small processors in containers.  In short these are niche markets for ag. producers.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Friday, March 26, 2021 5:58 PM

There is a HUGE demand in Asia for high quality animal feed.  They simply can not produce enough to feed their animals for their own needs.  I know of a farmer in my area that grows soybeans for export to Japan that are made into soy sauce in Japan.  They grow a very specifc type of bean that the factory wants grow it organic and ship it all over to Japan for high end soy sauce. Another grows something that has made some cattle producer in Japan go I need more of this and is shipping tons of his grain over to Japan every year for Kobe Beef.

 

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Posted by York1 on Friday, March 26, 2021 6:19 PM

Out here on the plains, the Far East is a huge market for our products.  We ship large amounts of grain, beef, and pork to China and Japan.

In the fall, a lot of grain sits in huge piles on the ground, waiting for train cars to haul it.

 

Even during the tariff issues several years ago, China continued to buy large amounts of grain from the Midwest U.S.

 

While hay bales provided employment for high school boys, today the small rectangular bales are almost gone.  In their place are the huge round bales that can weigh up to 1,500 pounds.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 26, 2021 6:45 PM

MP218
There is demand for agricultural products in the Pacific rim.  High rates of empty contaiers returning to Asia make for cheap freight.  Currently, the manufacturers are often demanding containers return empty to get reloaded faster than messing with loading and unloading.  This has created shortages of containers for loading of ag products. 

Afalfa hay would not be shipped over in the small bales of our younger days.  Most hay is not handled by hand anymore.  The horse market is one stronghold for small bales.   It would be baled in large rectangular bales in sizes up to 4 x 4 x 8 ft, weighing up to a ton.  It is then compressed once more to reduce volume before container loading.  Grass seed growers in the Pacific NW have long baled their grass straw after seed harvest, compressed it and sent it to Japan and Asia.  Main ag exports from the Minot terminal would likely be dry peas, edible beans which are popular foods.  Export Grain and oil seeds used for specialty human consumption are often shipped to small processors in containers.  In short these are niche markets for ag. producers.

A number of years ago, prior to the enlargement of CSX's Virginia Avenue Tunnel, several Chichago-Florida merchandise trains got rerouted to head South via VAT and the I-95 corridor.  The reroutes activated the High Car Detector that protected VAT - the cars that were found to be high were loads of Alfalfa Hay going from Larsen Farms in Idaho to Ocala, FL.  Ocala is the heart of Florida horse country.

https://www.larsenhay.com/our-story/

The hay was loaded to the 20'2" loading plate of double stacks, however at the time VAT was only good for 17'5".

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Posted by greyhounds on Friday, March 26, 2021 8:51 PM

MP173
I do not see UP or others adding these types of facilities.  Not in their bandwidth...but a regional or shortline could do it, as they look for transportation revenue, rather than railroad revenue.  I do think these are better served by 3rd party providers that can tap into other aspects of the supply chain.  

Unfortunately, I agree with you.  The UP, and others, don’t have the “Bandwidth” to do this.  They need to acquire more bandwidth.
 
The UP cannot just continue to sit back and hope that some day someone such as Savage will come along.  They need to be proactive as Hell in developing new business.  That hay has been moving for decades and the UP just sat back and waited for someone else to come up with a business development plan?  ‘Tis pathetic.
 
They’ve got a railroad through Idaho.  They probably know that.  They should know what Idaho produces and consumes along with where it goes and where it comes from.  Volumes and competing truck rates should also be known.  They probably don’t know this “detailed” stuff.  Kind of like a “What, me worry?” situation.
 
The business development plan can well include short lines, 3rd parties, etc.  Whatever works the best.  But the railroad needs to be proactive in the business development.
 
And if one truckload of potatoes, be they fresh, frozen, dehydrated, whatever, leaves Idaho for any distance over 500 miles some people in Omaha better have a good damn explanation for their failure.
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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 26, 2021 9:07 PM

greyhounds
 
MP173
I do not see UP or others adding these types of facilities.  Not in their bandwidth...but a regional or shortline could do it, as they look for transportation revenue, rather than railroad revenue.  I do think these are better served by 3rd party providers that can tap into other aspects of the supply chain.   
Unfortunately, I agree with you.  The UP, and others, don’t have the “Bandwidth” to do this.  They need to acquire more bandwidth.

However, the hallmark of PSR is reduce bandwidth and the costs that it brings to the OR.

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Posted by greyhounds on Saturday, March 27, 2021 3:14 PM

BaltACD
However, the hallmark of PSR is reduce bandwidth and the costs that it brings to the OR.

OK, if you take pleasure from hating Hunter Harrison and PSR I'll just ignore it.  Whatever floats your boat.

But this nationwide problem with railroad marketing and market development antedates PSR by decades.
 
The economic regulators of the government, the literal Spawn of Satan, simply would not allow our railroads to do market development.  So, does it surprise you that railroad marketing departments are weak sisters to the operating departments?   If anyone wants salient examples of government economic regulators flat out blocking railroad innovation and market development, I can sure provide them.
 
Our railroads are now largely free from the asinine economic regulations of the past.  And I will keep saying they need to do better at marketing and market development until the day I die.
 
But things didn’t get to where they are now because of PSR.
 
 
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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, March 27, 2021 3:14 PM

greyhounds
But things didn’t get to where they are because of PSR.

Sure as hell didn't help, despite what the EHH fanbois say. 

 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 27, 2021 5:54 PM

greyhounds
 
BaltACD
However, the hallmark of PSR is reduce bandwidth and the costs that it brings to the OR. 

OK, if you take pleasure from hating Hunter Harrison and PSR I'll just ignore it.  Whatever floats your boat.

But this nationwide problem with railroad marketing and market development antedates PSR by decades.
 
The economic regulators of the government, the literal Spawn of Satan, simply would not allow our railroads to do market development.  So, does it surprise you that railroad marketing departments are weak sisters to the operating departments?   If anyone wants salient examples of government economic regulators flat out blocking railroad innovation and market development, I can sure provide them.
 
Our railroads are now largely free from the asinine economic regulations of the past.  And I will keep saying they need to do better at marketing and market development until the day I die.
 
But things didn’t get to where they are now because of PSR.

Rail marketing has been lacking over the years and is even more lacking these days.  My understanding was that EHH eliminated all marketing positions once he was installed at CSX in the name of PSR.  Anytime you manage a company to one specific indicator you lose sight of all the other indications that are needed to progressively manage the enterprise into a profitable and repeatable future.

My observations from afar, with EHH suffering from chronic emphysema or some other respritory condition requiring the use of oxygen during normal daily activities - I feature he was damaged goods when installed at CSX and was mentally defective from repeated oxygen deficits over the years of his illness.

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Posted by SALfan on Saturday, March 27, 2021 8:00 PM

greyhounds

 

 

Did anyone else work on a hay rack behind a baler.  The bales weighed around 75 pounds.  They'd first mow the hay and then mechanically rake it into rows.

Then they'd hook up: 1) a farm tractor, 2) the baler, 3) a hay rack.  On the rack were often two teen age boys.  Our job was to pull the bales out of the baler with a hook and stack them on the hay rack as it moved through the field.  We'd load up one rack, drop it, and hook on another empty rack.  Then we had to unload 'em into the barn.  It's far more automated now.

That work, along with hoeing watermelons, made me opt for college.

 

 

Never worked on a hay rack - no one in the area where I grew up had anything that fancy.  Loading hay for my father's cows wasn't too bad - the guy he bought hay from used a (small bale) baler that dropped the bales on the ground, then my brother and I picked them up and threw them into the back of a pickup truck.  My father insisted the baler be adjusted so the bales were about 50 pounds, and a pickup bed wasn't too high off the ground, so loading that hay wasn't too bad.  

The tough hay loading I got involved with was when I worked for a guy who had a grocery store, a feed-and-seed store, a slaughterhouse and two big farms.  I officially worked in the grocery store, but when he ran short of help in the hayfield I was unlucky enough to be sent to do that.  I always thought his baler was worn out, but it produced the 25-lb. and 75-lb. bales you mentioned.  Didn't help that we were loading the hay into a beat-up 5-ton truck with a maladjusted carburetor (produced clouds of evil-smelling smoke).  Also didn't help the bed of that truck was about 5 feet off the ground.  At the end of a very long day I never wanted to see hay again.

The worst was picking tobacco.  It felt like the temperature was 10,000 degrees in the tobacco patch. About 5 minutes after beginning to pick, your arms were covered in tar from the tobacco, and about 5 minutes after that they were also covered in dirt.  Five minutes after that you had sweated to the point your clothes were soaking wet, and you stayed hot, nasty and sweat-soaked until the end of the day.  At least I never worked hanging the sticks of green tobacco in the barn - that wasn't quite as nasty as picking, but was even hotter.

Those adventures, plus seeing guys 50 years old still doing that kind of work, convinced me to go to college so I could get a job where I sat down in an air-conditioned office all day.  I would have walked barefoot on broken glass for 5 miles through a cactus patch naked before spending my whole life working in hay and tobacco. 

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, March 27, 2021 8:11 PM

greyhounds
Our job was to pull the bales out of the baler with a hook...

And make sure you knew where that hook was at all times - farmers don't appreciate the possibility that one of those hay hooks was firmly imbedded in one of those tractor tires...

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Posted by Backshop on Saturday, March 27, 2021 8:13 PM

I'd worry more about a hook going into my thigh.

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Posted by greyhounds on Sunday, March 28, 2021 1:48 AM

Backshop
I'd worry more about a hook going into my thigh.

Worry as much as you want to, if something like that happened it was your own fault.

Words from my own dear mother:  "If you get hurt by an animal it's your fault, not the animal's."  i.e., horses kick.  If you got kicked by a horse it was your fault, not the horses'.

I took a pony's kick into my right shoulder.  And then I got an explanation as to why it was all my own fault.

 

 

"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 daveklepper on Monday, April 5, 2021 5:53 AM

Greyhound, your statement that the Government would not permit RRs to do market development had some truth----  pre-Staggers.

But not afterward.

And short lines and regionals and KCS do it routinely and as well as they can, given their dependence on the Class Ones that don't.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Monday, April 5, 2021 6:55 AM

Greyhound Santa Fe knew how to market their Transcon Intermodal service.  They literally got the largest OTR carriers to switch from running longhaul services to IM containers in the 90's.  How they offered great service for rates that allowed the OTR companies to keep charging their customers the same rates but make more money on each haul.  My boss just took a customer from JB Hunt from the DFW to Chicago area by offering them a cheaper rate than JB was charging them and we are going to be doing it faster than JB can via container IM.  For us it gets 10 loads a week back to Illinois and we no longer need a broker to find loads for those trips.  

 

The railroad industries problem is twofold.  They have forgotten how to market their industry. 2nd and this the biggest problem they have become consumed with the all powerful Operational Ratio and seeing how low they can lower it.  By doing that they run off business that they think will not make them enough money to justify the costs to service it.  A customer that makes you a 10% profit is still one that contirbutes to the profit margin.  You drive him off that revenue is gone and you more than likely will never get it back again.  So you start losing a million dollars here and there next thing you know your bosses decide a 10 million dollar contract isn't enough for them to service so they get run off.  Then you start running into real money flying out the window in lost revenue that can not be made.  I would rather have a railroad that went after the business than one that wants an OR of around 50.

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, April 5, 2021 1:30 PM

Shadow, you said it very very well.  Maybe there is hope with BNSF.

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