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UP Intermodal Mess

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, July 25, 2021 1:50 PM

Convicted One
Just because they (Individuallly) couldn't get it right the first time is no reason to assume a collective solution is unattainable, the next time.

But I tremble to think what a true Union Station for all the railroads into Chicago might have involved... or the approach tracks and yards and commissaries and such to make it all work.

New York, with relatively fewer carriers to accommodate, had 20 tracks for the Lindenthal Hudson crossing... but that plus a Narrows tunnel would have involved all through stations, with yards as far out as needed.  I don't see how a Chicago station would have that luxury even if it passed an ordinance like Manhattan's requiring electric access... and built tens of Bergen-Arches-scale approaches to make everything fit.

With 80% or more ultimately being as obsolete as the Bergen Arches in about the same timeframe...

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Posted by Gramp on Sunday, July 25, 2021 4:20 PM

The city powers that be wouldn't have wanted simple through passage.  A point of transfer is where gold falls out of suspension.

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Posted by Convicted One on Sunday, July 25, 2021 5:45 PM

diningcar
Central planning by government, as illistrated by the takeover of RR's in WWI, and by the ICC regulations,  did not lead to good solutions. 

 

Perhaps some means to incentivize "steel wheeled" transfers between railroads, while creating disincentives for "rubber tired" transfers between same might be  considered, as a way to prevent the blocks Jeff mentioned earlier from being "sorted" via the surface streets? That would surely impact the shortage of chassis?

Hey, I'm not proposing to have all the answers, those necessarily  come from the guys making the big bux. All I'm saying here is that perhaps the insistence we've had here by some in times past that there is no alternative to the rubber tire intermediary link, might be flawed thinking. Perhaps thinking outside that "box" might have promise. Keeping it all on steel whenever possible would surely free up some chassis?

"Central planning" might be the catalyst  necessary to motivate minds toward that end, since it doesn't seem to be happening on it's own.  Whistling

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Posted by Convicted One on Monday, July 26, 2021 10:19 AM

One would think that not having to embargo eastbound containers would be "incentive" enough, but who knows? Perhaps this current dilemma might force the "we've always done it this way"  hard heads to rethink Chicago?

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Monday, July 26, 2021 11:28 AM

The railroads need to realize that putting the so called almighty operational ratio before the service you provide your customers is not going to be a good long-term solution.  Sooner or later those same customers will get tired of delayed shipments no response to calls emails or having to wait weeks to hear from anyone that can take any responsibility for a screw up.   I'm still trying to get someone with the UP to fix the issue we are having with as we're calling it around here the car in permanent limbo.  No one at the UP wants to take the responsibility that they screwed up and they are now trying to blame the shipper saying they never released the car.  Problem is we have the release date from the shipper and the day UP accepted it and the start of the tracking via the AEI tag information.  

 

Oh how I wish EHH had been fired for his crap idea of PSR.  But the street thought he was made of gold so his idea's could do no wrong.  He is the Chainsaw Al of the railroads.  

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, July 26, 2021 2:21 PM

Shadow the Cats owner
The railroads need to realize that putting the so called almighty operational ratio before the service you provide your customers is not going to be a good long-term solution.

There are likely those on the railroads who know that very well.  We see comments here to that effect.

I don't know as I'd blame the railroads for the problem - especially where the OR is concerned.  Rather, it's the investors in it for short term gain.  I suspect that they are the most vocal group, and we know about the squeaky wheel.

Until the long-term investors take control, I would opine that we're going to continue to see the same downward spiral.

LarryWhistling
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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, July 26, 2021 10:39 PM

It will be interesting to see what BNSF reports for the second quarter (when Berkshire Hathaway reports). It seems like they have not been the OR Uber-fanatics like some of the others.

 

Also, JJ Reust has made statements recently that seem to indicate a focus on growing the top line more than lowering the OR further is going to be the CN strategy going forward. They have settled in the low-60s range. Even at that they have dropped 28% of their revenues to the bottom line as net income for the first six months of 2021.

CN also has not blown their debt up to the extent of some of the others that have been doing huge buybacks year after year.

See pages 11 and 12 of 58 in the following pdf.

https://www.cn.ca/-/media/Files/Investors/Investor-Financial-Quarterly/Investor-Financial-Quarterly-2021/Q2/Q2-2021-Quarterly-Review-en.pdf?la=en&hash=4240671DC2A22A718E48BD6576ACB17D97A3D59A

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, July 26, 2021 11:03 PM

Do not believe that the SEC or any other FED can stop the buy backs ?r

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, July 26, 2021 11:30 PM

Check out UP's debt from 2010 and their revenues and their debt today as of June 2021 and theirs revenues.

Then look at the new debt they issued each year and compare that to the stock buybacks each year.

These figures  an all be gleaned from their web site.

As long as interest ratRe stay low and they can keep rolling thsir debt over at low interest rates thsy are okay.

If rates rise by 200-300 basis pointe we'll see how they fare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, July 26, 2021 11:36 PM

The through sleepers; New York to L.A. New York to San Francisco; that did transfer between west coast via Santa Fe, BN, C&NW and PRR, NYC, B&O had (except for PRR-BN) long time consuming transfers between stations. I don't believe there was an extra charge for the through car. Heck, I think you saved the Parmalee transfer charge. B&O & PRR transferred cars with Mopac and Frisco at Saint Louis UNION Sta. PRR, & NYC had cars connecting in Cincinnati with the C&O, Southern, and the L&N. Again at a Union Sta. But Chicago, to transfer from the NYC at LaSalle Street Station to C&NW Sta is a long complex slow move. Tie up a crew and switcher for most of a shift. PRR to BN was at Union Station. Piece of cake. Bean Counters had to hate them.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 12:09 PM
Ignoring the digression for a bit. I would imagine it's fair to assume that UP loosing Feather River AND the Cascade line to K-falls is also going to impact congestion for boxes moving from Northern California both north and east. I have no idea what the timetable is in this era of PSR, but it sure looks like they might be using FRC and Donner in a sort of Directional running scheme just like they do for the rest of the former WP.
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 8:54 PM

jeffhergert
Reading the original link, it sounds like the problem wasn't with boxes drayed across towns, but with boxes destined to the receivers served out of the Chicago terminal.

When I'm able to handle an eastbound intermodal, boxes for NS or CSX are all together on the cars with the cars blocked by destination carrier.  They could be steel wheeled across town.  Whether they are or not, I couldn't say.  I currently don't go east of IA hwy 17 now, and when I did go east of there it wasn't past IL Route 84. 

Jeff

I was reading the most recent issue of the B&O Historical Society's 'Sentinal'.  There was a article highlighting the issues in Dispatching Chicago Terminal from the B&OCT perspective.  It highlighted Forest Hill as being the Intermodal Terminal in the 1960's & 70'.  It also highlighted that various bridge clearences around the entirety of the Chicago Area that was being used as transfre routes between carriers would not permit the movement of trailer flats that were loaded with the allowd 13 foot 6 inch trailer on it - thus rubber tire interchanges among the carriers was a 'quick and dirty' solution to the very costly remedy of changing all the necessary overhead clearance restrictions.

While Chicago was a 'destination' terminal for all passenger carriers into the city, it was also a destination terminal for all the freight carriers too.  There were no through routes for freight or passenger.

CSX experienced the same problems in Atlanta - as it was served by five routes into the city with all but one having Atlanta as the destination.  The Seaboard's route from Hamlet through Atlanta to Birmingham was as through, if circuitous route between the named cities.  The L&N terminated in Atlanta from Chattanooga and Etowah.  The Georgia RR terminated in Atlanta from Augusta and had a working relationship with the Atlanta & West Point/Western RR of Alabama to Montgomery.  The ACL terminated in Atlanta with the route from Waycross & Jacksonville.  Linking all these carriers in Atlanta were interchange routes for cross terminal drayage of interchange cuts between each carriers yards - not main line routes.  CSX had to improve all the routes in order to make Atlanta work as a Terminal - not just a collection of yards in the Atlanta area.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 10:03 PM

BaltACD
While Chicago was a 'destination' terminal for all passenger carriers into the city, it was also a destination terminal for all the freight carriers too.  There were no through routes for freight or passenger.

There was the MILW Louisville route, although I'm not sure how much it mattered.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 10:38 PM

MidlandMike
 
BaltACD
While Chicago was a 'destination' terminal for all passenger carriers into the city, it was also a destination terminal for all the freight carriers too.  There were no through routes for freight or passenger. 

There was the MILW Louisville route, although I'm not sure how much it mattered.

Very little traffic moved on that line - enough to keep it operational but not enough to make real money with it.  There was very little traffic that was routeed MILW Louisville to connecting carriers.

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Posted by n012944 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 10:17 AM

BaltACD

 It highlighted Forest Hill as being the Intermodal Terminal in the 1960's & 70'. \

 

Interestingly enough, CSX is again using Forest Hill as an overflow intermodal terminal.  A cut a day runs out of Bedford Park to be unloaded at Forest Hill.  Easy to set up a "pop up" site there, the tracks already were in place.  They just brought over a Mi-Jack crane to unload containers, bing bang boom, and terminal was set up.  

 

Unfortunately this is a short term solution.  Construction has started on the grade separation of the 75th Street diamonds.  Elevating the CSX line over the NS and BRC will no longer permit access to the Forest Hill site.  

An "expensive model collector"

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Posted by OWTX on Thursday, July 29, 2021 6:07 PM

More than 50% of the volume going into Joliet gets consumed locally. Stripping and stuffing into private wholesale, retail, and manufacturing supply & distribution chains. This serves much the same purpose as old school Chicago headend yards, freight houses and catalog warehouses.

I expect any chassis pooling will require regulatory oversite - otherwise rail and trucking, as well as common and private carriers, will continue to bicker about absorbing the costs.

Railmate was another of the low volume, short haul TOFC solutions.

The COFC shuttle trains to/from Rochelle that UP tried didn't solve for a terrible site selection. The trucking industry has never pressed hard for expansion of long combination vehicles (LCVs) beyond what's locked into STAA place. So maybe there just isn't much market demand. OTOH why not twin 40' container B-trains in captive service (lift to warehouse) if there are continuing driver shortages?

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 6:27 PM

Deshler (CSX) has been holding it's own with traffic, including into and out of the North Baltimore IM yard.

LarryWhistling
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Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
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Posted by greyhounds on Thursday, July 29, 2021 9:42 PM

OWTX
I expect any chassis pooling will require regulatory oversite - otherwise rail and trucking, as well as common and private carriers, will continue to bicker about absorbing the costs.

What's wrong with bickering?  Nobody should settle into complacency.  Be constructively dissatisfied.  

On the other hand, I can provide a long list of maladies created by "Regulatory Oversite."

"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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