CN vs Amtrak lawsuit on Amtrak Train Delays by CN

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CN vs Amtrak lawsuit on Amtrak Train Delays by CN
Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 11:24 AM

Interesting article.    In my view CN is being unreasonable in three areas.   #1 measuring timeliness at endpoints, clearly CN knows this keeps the door wide open for further abuse because their next suggestion will be Amtrak pad the schedule until there are no delays.   #2  Amtrak has to pay costs for delayed freight trains....yeah, CN might have an argument there if it wasn't also the dispatcher.    Seems to me though this is a red herring for the most part.   #3  Minimal axles on a passenger train rule, Amtrak should fight this if it has not done so.  CN and other railroads should be able to safely operate short passenger trains without worrying about crossing signals.

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2019/08/13-stb-urges-mediation-in-amtrak-cn-contract-renewal-dispute

 

 

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 11:33 AM

CMStPnP
 #3  Minimal axles on a passenger train rule, Amtrak should fight this if it has not done so.  CN and other railroads should be able to safely operate short passenger trains without worrying about crossing signals.

Amtrak passenger trains (Other than the City of New Orleans) on the Canadian National ex-IC line operate with old Heritage Fleet baggage cars, diners, and sleepers in order to activate the signals.  This seems to me to be kind of silly as no other short passenger trains tha I have ridden need to do this.  I may be wrong on that as I have been in the past.

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Posted by JOHN PRIVARA on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 11:56 AM

Seems to me Amtrak should be required to pay for the "portion of costs" required to run their trains faster than freight train speeds (whatever that works out to be).

But, maybe a good compromise would be: Any track that has a passenger train doesn't have to pay state and local taxes. The railroads would be clamoring for Amtrak trains.

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Posted by diningcar on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:14 PM

The discussion of 'property taxes' for railroads is  very complex, and differs from state to state. RR's are not like your and my properties which may be easily viewed and appraised. Each state has developed its own system, but attempting to simplify I know that there is a definate distinction between: Two MT with TCS; single track with signals; branch line track; major yards and misc. side and yard tracks; and all other properties. 

To discuss RR taxes as a trade off for 'whatever' cannot be easily done and in fact would be resisted by states because it would mess up a system they have spent a long time establishing.

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Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:21 PM

I know for the power transmission lines in Georgia the property tax was assesed at the county level. Not sure if the railroads are similar.

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Posted by JOHN PRIVARA on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 4:30 PM

Re: resisted by states because it would mess up a system they have spent a long time establishing

Another downside of private ownership of railroad infrastructure.

Remember - generations ago - all those railroad ads, and railroad supporters, proudly proclaiming how ONLY railroads paid taxes and all those other forms of transportation were freeloading socialists! Looks like it all backfired on them (and nobody ever really cared about that argument anyway).

If railroads were just another government sponsored "open access" transportation system who knows how many abandoned lines wouldn't have been, if passenger trains may have survived (a bit longer anyway), and if a higher percentage of freight would be on the rails instead of the roads.

Oh well, too late now..

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Posted by diningcar on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 4:38 PM

John P, your post is misleading, or perhaps poorly informed. The RR's pay significant taxes on their operating properties. It is just difficult to apportion to the various locations and that is why the states have developed methods to accomplish the distribution. The counties- parishes- or whatever do not have the expertise and cannot afford to acquire it.

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Posted by JOHN PRIVARA on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 4:56 PM

Re: The RR's pay significant taxes on their operating properties.

I know they do.

I was saying it's too BAD the railroad lines (not the companies, just the "road" part of the "railroad") aren't owned by the states and treated like highways ("roads").

"Open access roads" that happen to have rails.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 6:11 PM

If some financial wizards at the rail companies discover that selling off the real estate and just operating transportation is far more profitable the owning (along with huge capital gain distributions), watch the rush to open access. 

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 6:29 PM

JOHN PRIVARA
I was saying it's too BAD the railroad lines (not the companies, just the "road" part of the "railroad") aren't owned by the states and treated like highways ("roads"). "Open access roads" that happen to have rails.

    I think I remember reading that a similar concept was considered back in the earliest days.

_____________

   "A stranger is just a friend you ain't met yet."  ___ Dave Gardner

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 7:02 PM

JOHN PRIVARA
Re: The RR's pay significant taxes on their operating properties.

I know they do.

I was saying it's too BAD the railroad lines (not the companies, just the "road" part of the "railroad") aren't owned by the states and treated like highways ("roads").

"Open access roads" that happen to have rails.

How much are the States that are all crying poverty now going to PAY the private investors that own the railroads in the USA?  If the states are in poverty now, just how are they to come up with the money to purchase the rights of way from their private owners at market value?  

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:18 PM

It would have to be the national government,  obviously.  The price might be less than you think if analysts realized that eliminating the expenses of maintenance,  taxes (if they are ever paid,  not just "deferred"), etc. in return to low access charges was a financial boon. 

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Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:29 PM

diningcar
 The RR's pay significant taxes on their operating properties. It is just difficult to apportion to the various locations and that is why the states have developed methods to accomplish the distribution. The counties- parishes- or whatever do not have the expertise and cannot afford to acquire it. 

As per Texas of the Comptroller Form 50-156, railroads operating in Texas are required to render property used to produce income to the appraisal district office in the county in which the property is located and taxable.

Union Pacific, as an example, is required to tell each county appraisal district in Texas the property type and location of its property within the appraisal district. The appraisal district requires this information to set the value of the property for tax purposes.  

Tax Code Section 22.05(b) requires a railroad corporation rendition to list: (1) all real property other than the property covered by subdivision (2); (2) the number of miles of railroad together with the market value per mile, which value shall include right-of-way, roadbed, superstructure, and all buildings and improvements used in the operation of the railroad; and (3) all personal property as required by Tax Code Section 22.01.

Each of the 254 counties in Texas knows the taxable value of a railroad’s property within the county.  The political authorities set the tax rate, and they send a tax bill to UP, as an example. It pays the tax to the county treasurer for each appraisal district.

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, August 15, 2019 7:59 AM

Again, each state has its methods and they have evolved over many years. There is always going to be the question of 'value for tax purposes' and most states have determined the expertise does not exist at the local level, ie. county-parish- or whatever.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:10 AM

Paul of Covington
I think I remember reading that a similar concept was considered back in the earliest days.

It made some sense, the chief problem being that along with state construction came common-carrier access ... by anyone with compatible equipment.  One of the early 'planes' railroads in Pennsylvania was divided into sections of single track with 'sidings' to allow traffic to pass.  However, there was no attempt at scheduling; whoever got to the 'halfway point (marked by a post) had the right-of-way and other traffic had to back up to the siding.  Supposedly there were horrific head-on collisions as teamsters "laid on the leather" in a game of chicken to the post.

John Kneiling carefully investigated workable methods of open-access in the '60s (he called it the "iron ocean").  Modern CBTC/PTC equipment would help make the idea comparatively workable, and decisions to 'rationalize' track layout would be made with respect to actual traffic, not railroads' expedience.

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Posted by JOHN PRIVARA on Thursday, August 15, 2019 11:14 AM

Re: If the states are in poverty now, just how are they to come up with the money to purchase the rights of way from their private owners at market value?

Where there's a will there's a scam...

Perhaps something like a reverse mortgage arrangement. The existing railroads get to "live" on the rails for X years, after which ownership transfers to the states. The states "purchase" the rails by not charging taxes on ROW.

It's never possible to do stuff like this in a non-crisis era. If (say) in another 50 years the railroads are facing bankruptcy again (as in the 60's) it might be possible, but now.... I'd say the railroads and the society are doing fine with their current arrangement: the RR's are profitable, they pay taxes, are private, and seem to do a good job at moving non time-sensitive freight.

I brought up the topic is response the (usual) Amtrak incompatibility on the existing RR infrastructure.

Amtrak is time-sensitive and as such can't fit into the existing RR infrastructure and operating model. But, us fans keep trying of-course. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, August 15, 2019 12:17 PM

1. Why states? A modern, national rail grid is clearly a federal job. 

2. Feds take over free of charge in return for no more property taxes to pay and low, initial access fees, gradually increasing to cover maintenance expenses. 

3. Capital improvements are treated the same as upgrading interstates, waterways, and airports/airways, part of the responsibilities of a modern industrial nation state.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, August 15, 2019 12:33 PM

Some issues to overcome for the three items:

1) "States" because it keeps the apportionments close to home.  Obviously regional organizations worked out between several states will be a central intermediate step.

The Federal Government should stick to an extended version of its role: promulgating not only safety but service standards ... and providing financing and technical assistance to the operations.

If there is a shortfall or extraordinary expense, the states should assuredly have recourse to funds at Federal level (e.g. benefits from an Abo Canyon improvement that will benefit many states materially)

 

2) The Federal government has no participation in 'property taxes' nor any authority to suspend paying them.  Of course Congress could propose a 'taking' with the purchase price reduced by the NPV of the tax bills in a particular state, then claim the acquired lines as Federal property exempt from state or local tax... but look for fun if they try.

Government setaside (or earmarking) of INCOME taxes to help finance the acquisition is another matter entirely.  This is different from setting up a 'Rail Trust Fund' from more general transportation income to improve the rail infrastructure, so less likely to be attacked as unfair competition by established truck, barge, etc. interests... this also concerns your point 3.

Yes, both strategic improvements and maintenance *should* be done on a refined, national level.  One problem is that the tangible benefits of the improvements are not directly visible, or accessible, to the general public or most competition.  There are relatively more barriers to entry in railroading than in other areas, so I would expect all sorts of whining propaganda about 'who gets the track capacity' on any part of the system with limited access, or 'sweetheart deals' with the operating companies left after the track structure has been divested.  It would be nice if the Senate andHouse would legislate fully-funded mandates, but I don't really see hope there any time soon.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:10 PM

charlie hebdo
1. Why states? A modern, national rail grid is clearly a federal job. 

2. Feds take over free of charge in return for no more property taxes to pay and low, initial access fees, gradually increasing to cover maintenance expenses. 

3. Capital improvements are treated the same as upgrading interstates, waterways, and airports/airways, part of the responsibilities of a modern industrial nation state.

Yep!  Government Theft.  That's the ticket.  The the government gets PSR and withholds maintenance.  What a grand rail network it will be. [/sarcasm]

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, August 15, 2019 2:05 PM

1. To Overmod: I don't follow your line of reasoning.

2. Overmod: States and municipalities cannot tax federal property. Since much of the ROWs is on land grant property, it is, in a sense,  reverting to the original owner. 

3. To Balt: Freeing the freights of property taxes (if they actually pay them, as opposed to carrying taxes deferred on the books), no maintenance expenses, no need for capital investment on infrastructure, along with low access fees, might turn out to be far more profitable.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 15, 2019 2:44 PM

charlie hebdo
3. To Balt: Freeing the freights of property taxes (if they actually pay them, as opposed to carrying taxes deferred on the books), no maintenance expenses, no need for capital investment on infrastructure, along with low access fees, might turn out to be far more profitable.

The carriers do pay property taxes - taxes that in many communities are the foundations for them to provided any governmental services at all - schools, water, sewers and a host of other governmental services.

Will the US Government in taking the property continue to pay the taxes to the local governments?  They certainly won't take on the services the local governments provide!

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, August 15, 2019 4:07 PM

runnerdude48
Amtrak passenger trains (Other than the City of New Orleans) on the Canadian National ex-IC line operate with old Heritage Fleet baggage cars, diners, and sleepers in order to activate the signals.  This seems to me to be kind of silly as no other short passenger trains tha I have ridden need to do this.  I may be wrong on that as I have been in the past.

Agree, I am not a railroad expert but that doesn't strike me as "safe" railroad operation.......upgrade the damn signals, geez most of the states have large trust funds to pay most of the cost to do so.    My former Brother in Law used to work for Oosmose trestle preservation and you should hear some of his old stories about ICG trestles and ICG management.    Granted not the same as CN but I am sure there were holdovers.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, August 15, 2019 4:38 PM

BaltACD

 

 
charlie hebdo
3. To Balt: Freeing the freights of property taxes (if they actually pay them, as opposed to carrying taxes deferred on the books), no maintenance expenses, no need for capital investment on infrastructure, along with low access fees, might turn out to be far more profitable.

 

The carriers do pay property taxes - taxes that in many communities are the foundations for them to provided any governmental services at all - schools, water, sewers and a host of other governmental services.

Will the US Government in taking the property continue to pay the taxes to the local governments?  They certainly won't take on the services the local governments provide!

 

Let's see some evidence for that. 

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Posted by JOHN PRIVARA on Thursday, August 15, 2019 5:09 PM

Re:  Will the US Government in taking the property continue to pay the taxes to the local governments?  They certainly won't take on the services the local governments provide!

 

No, THAT's the entire point and the crux of the "railroad problem" to begin with.

 

In a model where the states (or Feds) own the rail-road ROW, the rail-roads should be treated like roads and airports.    Sure, the local governments will need to find funds to replace the lost rail-road taxes BUT they aren't getting taxes from the rubber-roads either.  The entire point of "Government open-access for rail-roads" is just to level the playing field.  

 

But, It isn't going to happen anyway.   There's no crisis in railroading, and NOTHING happens in government unless there's a crisis.   This is just more foamer "fan talk" (hey,  dem Sox goin' all da way dis year,  but dey gotta trade for lefty... ya know what i'm sayin'? ).   

 

(So,  wit da City of New Orleans, what I'm sayin' is dis)    As we don't have "government open access for rail-roads", maybe Amtrak should build 950+ miles of second track along the old "mainline of mid-america".    Build it to 80 mph standards (nothing fancy).   Each of the two lines are passing tracks for the other.   Both sides benefit:  the IC get's free passing tracks.   Amtrak gets a nearly unobstructed track from Chicago to NO.   They can even run some useful short distance passenger trains with the extra capacity.

 

How much would it cost?     Well, the ROW is already there.    There's no tunnels to build.  Maybe a few new bridges.   Let's say:  1.5 M's per mile.  Times 950 miles = 1.4 F35's.   Putin, the Godless Chinese Commie Capitalists,  even the trrrrrssss won't notice 1.4 less F35's.  

 

But, that ain't gonna happen either.  The connection to Houston at Newton KS (lots of potential there) ain't gonna happen,  the Milwaukee Road Pacific Coast Extension isn't going to be rebuilt,  bidness men aren't going to stuff themselves in 6'x3' boxes on a bidness trip.    It's just "fan talk".    Nothings ever going to change. 

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, August 15, 2019 5:46 PM

Well...yaz.. and it's too bad too because it makes sense to do so... but you had it, then lost it and it isn't coming back. So sad

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Posted by n012944 on Saturday, August 17, 2019 11:05 AM

runnerdude48

 

 
 

Amtrak passenger trains (Other than the City of New Orleans) on the Canadian National ex-IC line operate with old Heritage Fleet baggage cars, diners, and sleepers in order to activate the signals.  This seems to me to be kind of silly as no other short passenger trains tha I have ridden need to do this.  I may be wrong on that as I have been in the past.

 

 

 

The UP requires Amtrak to have 30 axles in both Missouri and lines north of LA.

 

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,4845926,page=3

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 17, 2019 1:06 PM

n012944
 
runnerdude48 

Amtrak passenger trains (Other than the City of New Orleans) on the Canadian National ex-IC line operate with old Heritage Fleet baggage cars, diners, and sleepers in order to activate the signals.  This seems to me to be kind of silly as no other short passenger trains tha I have ridden need to do this.  I may be wrong on that as I have been in the past. 

The UP requires Amtrak to have 30 axles in both Missouri and lines north of LA. 

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,4845926,page=3

Which, I personally, find as being a pile of bovine crap. 

So when UP has a light engine move over the territory they require themselves to have either 5 6-axle units or 8 4-axle units?

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, August 17, 2019 3:15 PM

BaltACD
Which, I personally, find as being a pile of bovine crap.  So when UP has a light engine move over the territory they require themselves to have either 5 6-axle units or 8 4-axle units?

I suspected the same but I have no clue on the antiquated signal technology we are dealing with here.    Railroads have some really, really old electrical circuits in service still.   I remember back in high school looking over the shoulder of a signalman around 1981 when he opened that magical silver box.    Looked like the 1950's in there.    The Milwaukee Road was still using the telegraph lines between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities in the early 1980's not sure if they needed to or they were playing around but they are documented as one of the last Class I's to use the telegraph system.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 17, 2019 4:32 PM

CMStPnP
 
BaltACD
Which, I personally, find as being a pile of bovine crap.  So when UP has a light engine move over the territory they require themselves to have either 5 6-axle units or 8 4-axle units? 

I suspected the same but I have no clue on the antiquated signal technology we are dealing with here.    Railroads have some really, really old electrical circuits in service still.   I remember back in high school looking over the shoulder of a signalman around 1981 when he opened that magical silver box.    Looked like the 1950's in there.    The Milwaukee Road was still using the telegraph lines between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities in the early 1980's not sure if they needed to or they were playing around but they are documented as one of the last Class I's to use the telegraph system.

Around the turn of the century it was discovered that some form of insulation on signal wires was dangerous in some way or the other and the FRA decreed that it be replaced.  My understanding was that this form of insulation had been used on ALL signal vendors installations for many, many years. ie. virtually all signal systems in the USA (and probably a large part of the 'free' world) would contain this wiring.

I know CSX replaced quite a number of signal installations to get rid of the offending insulation - in replacing the installations, it was not just the wire being changed out but the entire 'device' that at the same time was being converted to 'state of the art' signal devices.

Note - my Turn of the Century is from 1999 to 2000 and beyond.

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Posted by n012944 on Saturday, August 17, 2019 7:24 PM

BaltACD

 

 
n012944
 
runnerdude48 

Amtrak passenger trains (Other than the City of New Orleans) on the Canadian National ex-IC line operate with old Heritage Fleet baggage cars, diners, and sleepers in order to activate the signals.  This seems to me to be kind of silly as no other short passenger trains tha I have ridden need to do this.  I may be wrong on that as I have been in the past. 

The UP requires Amtrak to have 30 axles in both Missouri and lines north of LA. 

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?4,4845926,page=3

 

Which, I personally, find as being a pile of bovine crap. 

So when UP has a light engine move over the territory they require themselves to have either 5 6-axle units or 8 4-axle units?

 

 

Of course not.  They would have additional restrictions added to a move that does not meet the requirement.  While I don’t know UP’s rules, such restrictions would entail speed restrictions at grade crossings or an overall slower permissible top speed. Not something uncommon.  

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