Freight, Amtrak and delay penalties

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Freight, Amtrak and delay penalties
Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 10:00 AM
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Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, November 29, 2019 12:53 AM

So what I think is hurting the frieght railroads case here is so many times in the past they have openly bull shited about Amtraks impact to freight operations that they have lost credibility on the subject.   A lot of DOT's now insist on a third party to audit the railroad claims and in a lot of cases the third party ends up disagreeing significantly with the railroad cost estimate to get to a situation where additional passenger trains do not impact train schedules.

I still remember the BNSF estimate to extend the Heartland Flyer to connect with the Southwest Chief.   Amtrak ran a demo train over the route with both BNSF railway and DOT officials aboard and then BNSF suddenly changed it's estimate and lowered it.    No explanation given by BNSF.   DOT stated the track conditions and traffic management was a lot better than they were led to believe by BNSF.

I am not disagreeing that there is an Amtrak impact and I agree that Amtrak should pay to mitigate it where needed because I do not believe in unfunded mandates by Congress.    However the Class I railroad record here is not spot less at estimating the costs to bring about better rail passenger service.

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Friday, November 29, 2019 6:49 AM

The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots.

Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now!

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, November 29, 2019 8:02 AM

Any reputable source for your $500 million  figure?

The decline of the freight railroads from 20% of American freight to ~10% is not caused by Amtrak.  The freight lines are their own worst enemy. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, November 29, 2019 8:55 PM

PNWRMNM

The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots.

Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now!

 

So how much has Amtrak subsidized the freight carriers by taking their passenger trains off the freight's hands ?

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Saturday, November 30, 2019 6:50 AM

blue streak 1
So how much has Amtrak subsidized the freight carriers by taking their passenger trains off the freight's hands ?

None. Carriers should have been allowed to exit the business circa 1970. It was dead then and is an unnecessary, unreasonable drain on the Government and the freight railroads now. Fifty years of stupid is 50 years too much.

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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, November 30, 2019 8:56 AM

I don't think non-physical things are going to change the situation.  Talk, fines, yelling, discussing et.al. won't change a thing.  By and large, the frt RRs are doing about as well as they can.  The nature of railroading has changed since the 1970s.  The trains, crews, dispatchers, and rules aren't as nimble as they were.  

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, November 30, 2019 11:00 AM

PNWRMNM

 

 
blue streak 1
So how much has Amtrak subsidized the freight carriers by taking their passenger trains off the freight's hands ?

 

None. Carriers should have been allowed to exit the business circa 1970. It was dead then and is an unnecessary, unreasonable drain on the Government and the freight railroads now. Fifty years of stupid is 50 years too much.

 

I think you will find that their common carrier charters and years of subsidies did not allow them to behave like an ordinary business in 1971.

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, November 30, 2019 5:14 PM

blue streak 1
 PNWRMNM  The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots.  

Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now! 

So how much has Amtrak subsidized the freight carriers by taking their passenger trains off the freight's hands ? 

Had Amtrak not been formed, the freight railroads probably would have been successful in continuing their train off petitions.  

A look at the PRR Timetable for 1953 compared to 1957 and 1967 shows a steep reduction in the number of passenger trains.  The trend would have continued.

If all the railroads had gone belly up, in part because of their passenger train operations, I am hard pressed to believe that the government would have insisted that they continue to run their money losing passenger trains.  I am not a lawyer, but I don't see a Department of Justice lawyer waving a charter and getting a judge to say that the railroads had to run money losing passenger trains in perpetuity.  

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, November 30, 2019 5:34 PM
Amtrak’s Rights and Relationships with Host Railroads, September 21, 2017 Jim Blair – Director Host Railroads
 
The Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970 and subsequent amendments, now codified at 49 U.S.C. §§ 24101 et seq., provides Amtrak with rights on host railroads, including: Access to any rail line in the US., Use of host railroad facilities, Payments based on host’s incremental cost, Amtrak preference over freight transportation, Additional trains, Accelerated speeds and Condemnation authority.
 
The accounting question would be whether the freight railroad’s incremental costs are fairly derived.  How anyone outside of the freight carriers, Amtrak, FRA, or maybe a state DOT would get access to any studies performed to determine whether the incremental costs are reasonable is unknown to me.
 
The presenting language indicates that the Act has been amended several times.  Presumably there is nothing in the Act or the Constitution of the United States that would prohibit Congress from passing legislation to let the freight carriers off the hook of hosting Amtrak’s trains.  It probably would not fly politically, but that is a different issue.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, November 30, 2019 5:35 PM

PNWRMNM
The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots. Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now!

"train slots"?   What are those exactly and please feel free to publish the on time stats of any freight train that runs on any major Class I railroad right here in this Forum.    I might be real ignorant of rail operations, I might be real stupid when it comes to dispatching.   But I feel real confident in saying that not a whole lot of them freight trains run on schedule with any frequency these days.   

They used to when I was a kid and you used to be able to set your watch by the Milwaukee Road's Ford Hauler.     Good luck with that today.   

"Train slots" implies there is a schedule for the rest of the trains.  I am pretty sure that isn't true and most follow the rule of "it will get there, when it gets there"   There might be a few freight trains with premium freight that attempt to run on a schedule but overall my guess would be most of the trains are run when they have enough cars to make up a train.   Secondarily I would guess that most trains that run on a strict schedule these days do not have a respectible ontime percentage as measured on an annual basis.

I am sure there is an Amtrak impact at times but I think the Railroads are over inflating the impact Amtrak has on their operations.   Until I see scheduled proof in stats that of a line with Amtrak and a line without Amtrak.    I think on both lines you would see pretty effed up railroad operations in relation to schedule which would demonstrate Amtrak has minimal impact.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, November 30, 2019 6:10 PM

CMStPnP
 
PNWRMNM
The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots. Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now! 

"train slots"?   What are those exactly and please feel free to publish the on time stats of any freight train that runs on any major Class I railroad right here in this Forum.    I might be real ignorant of rail operations, I might be real stupid when it comes to dispatching.   But I feel real confident in saying that not a whole lot of them freight trains run on schedule with any frequency these days.  

UPS keeps the stats and shifts the carrier when the stats suffer.  Other customers also have similar strategys.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, November 30, 2019 6:16 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
PNWRMNM
The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots. Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now!

 

"train slots"?   What are those exactly and please feel free to publish the on time stats of any freight train that runs on any major Class I railroad right here in this Forum.    I might be real ignorant of rail operations, I might be real stupid when it comes to dispatching.   But I feel real confident in saying that not a whole lot of them freight trains run on schedule with any frequency these days.   

They used to when I was a kid and you used to be able to set your watch by the Milwaukee Road's Ford Hauler.     Good luck with that today.   

"Train slots" implies there is a schedule for the rest of the trains.  I am pretty sure that isn't true and most follow the rule of "it will get there, when it gets there"   There might be a few freight trains with premium freight that attempt to run on a schedule but overall my guess would be most of the trains are run when they have enough cars to make up a train.   Secondarily I would guess that most trains that run on a strict schedule these days do not have a respectible ontime percentage as measured on an annual basis.

I am sure there is an Amtrak impact at times but I think the Railroads are over inflating the impact Amtrak has on their operations.   Until I see scheduled proof in stats that of a line with Amtrak and a line without Amtrak.    I think on both lines you would see pretty effed up railroad operations in relation to schedule which would demonstrate Amtrak has minimal impact.

 

+1 I think you nailed it! 

Additionally,  no one has offered any evidence to support the validity of the $500 million figure.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, November 30, 2019 6:25 PM

PJS1

 

 
blue streak 1
 PNWRMNM  The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots.  

Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now! 

So how much has Amtrak subsidized the freight carriers by taking their passenger trains off the freight's hands ? 

 

Had Amtrak not been formed, the freight railroads probably would have been successful in continuing their train off petitions.  

A look at the PRR Timetable for 1953 compared to 1957 and 1967 shows a steep reduction in the number of passenger trains.  The trend would have continued.

If all the railroads had gone belly up, in part because of their passenger train operations, I am hard pressed to believe that the government would have insisted that they continue to run their money losing passenger trains.  I am not a lawyer, but I don't see a Department of Justice lawyer waving a charter and getting a judge to say that the railroads had to run money losing passenger trains in perpetuity.  

 

Had that occurred beyond the Norteast and Central US,  we know from history what would likely have happened: nationalization as in Conrail. 

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, November 30, 2019 8:20 PM

charlie hebdo
 PJS1 blue streak 1  PNWRMNM  The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots.  

Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now! 

So how much has Amtrak subsidized the freight carriers by taking their passenger trains off the freight's hands ? 

Had Amtrak not been formed, the freight railroads probably would have been successful in continuing their train off petitions 

A look at the PRR Timetable for 1953 compared to 1957 and 1967 shows a steep reduction in the number of passenger trains.  The trend would have continued. 

If all the railroads had gone belly up, in part because of their passenger train operations, I am hard pressed to believe that the government would have insisted that they continue to run their money losing passenger trains.  I am not a lawyer, but I don't see a Department of Justice lawyer waving a charter and getting a judge to say that the railroads had to run money losing passenger trains in perpetuity.  

Had that occurred beyond the Norteast and Central US,  we know from history what would likely have happened: nationalization as in Conrail. 

Not necessarily.  No one knows what would have happen.  What is likely to have happened, in my view, if Amtrak had not come along, is the railroads would have ultimately been successful in shedding their money losing passengers trains through due process.  

I don't believe even the Congress of the United States would have been stupid enough to allow the nation's rail carriers to get to a Conrail point.  Close, to be sure.  But sane heads, a difficult notion when it comes to the Congress, probably would have prevailed.  

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, November 30, 2019 8:26 PM

No one has offered any evidence to support the validity of the $500 million figure for a good reason.  No one posting to Trains has access to the host carrier books, and therefore, they don't have access to the key accounts.  

What we do know, as per Amtrak, is that it pays the freight railroads the incremental cost of hosting its passenger trains.  Incremental costs are only part of the cost equation.  

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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, November 30, 2019 8:45 PM

Conrail actually directly operated a lot of passenger trains, as it inherited the commuter operations of its predecessor railroads.  And it lost money doing so.

They were eventually transferred to states or municipalities in the early 1980s. 

I suspect something similar would have happened with regional and long-distance passenger trains in the no-Amtrak/nationwide Conrail scenario, with only the routes that states decided to take over and subsidize continuing to operate.

 

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, November 30, 2019 9:55 PM

SD70Dude
Conrail actually directly operated a lot of passenger trains, as it inherited the commuter operations of its predecessor railroads.  And it lost money doing so.

They were eventually transferred to states or municipalities in the early 1980s. 

I suspect something similar would have happened with regional and long-distance passenger trains in the no-Amtrak/nationwide Conrail scenario, with only the routes that states decided to take over and subsidize continuing to operate.

Remember, Penn Central still owned and operated the NEC when Amtrak was founded.  Amtrak did not secure ownership of the NEC until 1976.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, November 30, 2019 10:52 PM

SD70Dude

Conrail actually directly operated a lot of passenger trains, as it inherited the commuter operations of its predecessor railroads.  And it lost money doing so.

They were eventually transferred to states or municipalities in the early 1980s. 

I suspect something similar would have happened with regional and long-distance passenger trains in the no-Amtrak/nationwide Conrail scenario, with only the routes that states decided to take over and subsidize continuing to operate.

 

 

Penn Central and later Conrail  operated Metro North trains under contract to the MTA until 1983,  meaning they were paid and thus likely did not lose money.  Neither PC nor CR owned the lines.

The Long Island Railroad was bought by NY State in 1965.

Conrail no longer was responsible for commuter rail in the Boston area as of passage of the 1981 Northeast Rail Service Act. 

In the Philadelphia area,  Reading and PRR trains came under SEPTA subsidy contracts in the mid 60s and took over ownership as well as operations in1981.

 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, November 30, 2019 11:19 PM

The various commuter routes in New Jersey and Maryland that were later taken over by NJT and MARC do not seem to have been subsidized, at least initially. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, December 1, 2019 8:12 AM

NJT took over commuter rail from Conrail in 1983. 

MDOT began a 50% subsidy of B&O routes in 1974 and in 1975 began covering operating losses and provided equipment. It began subsidizing the Conrail ex-PRR routes in 1977. 

All Conrail commuter rail services in the Northeast were taken over by public transit agencies January 1, 1983.

Conclusion: Conrail losses were not because of commuter rail. 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, December 1, 2019 12:06 PM

I never claimed that all of Conrail's losses were due to its commuter operations, but it did lose money on them.  And it sought to be rid of them. 

I stand by my theory of the only surviving passenger trains in a non-Amtrak world being state-funded and operated.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, December 1, 2019 1:30 PM

SD70Dude

I never claimed that all of Conrail's losses were due to its commuter operations, but it did lose money on them.  And it sought to be rid of them. 

I stand by my theory of the only surviving passenger trains in a non-Amtrak world being state-funded and operated.

 

I agree. Any losses Conrail could have attributed to commuter rail, however, would have been minor at most because they were either already state or transit authority-subsidized or shortly would be.

Nobody can run commuter rail services as a profit-making concern these days. In major metro areas, it takes many vehicles off already filled expressways and packed downtown parking lots. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, December 1, 2019 1:38 PM

PJS1

No one has offered any evidence to support the validity of the $500 million figure for a good reason.  No one posting to Trains has access to the host carrier books, and therefore, they don't have access to the key accounts.  

What we do know, as per Amtrak, is that it pays the freight railroads the incremental cost of hosting its passenger trains.  Incremental costs are only part of the cost equation.  

 

If the fee Amtrak pays is actually the true incremental cost to the freight carrier for allowing Amtrak to operate a few passenger trains daily (or less often) on that carrier's tracks, why should there be any dispute about whether or not Amtrak is underpaying?

Additionally, that $500 million nice round figure sounds like someone at AAR made it up and that was then posted here. 

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Posted by PJS1 on Sunday, December 1, 2019 1:55 PM

charlie hebdo
 If the fee Amtrak pays is actually the true incremental cost to the freight carrier for allowing Amtrak to operate a few passenger trains daily (or less often) on that carrier's tracks, why should there be any dispute about whether or not Amtrak is underpaying? 

Additionally, that $500 million nice round figure sounds like someone at AAR made it up and that was then posted here. 

To know for sure, one would need access to the carrier’s books.  One would need to be able to review the incremental cost model to know what makes it up. 
 
Amtrak could claim that an incremental cost claimed by the host railroad is not incremental.  The railroad would have incurred it anyway.  But the railroad may be able to show otherwise.  This issue frequently arises when the incremental costs include allocations. 
 
To know whether the host railroad's incremental costs are proper, Amtrak’s auditors would need to meet with the railroad’s cost accountants to learn how the incremental costs were determined, how they are applied, and whether they are being kept up to date.
 
A host railroad could claim that it had to hire an extra dispatcher to handle Amtrak's trains.  It allocates the total cost to Amtrak.  But upon examination by the auditors, it may turn out that only 60 percent of the additional dispatcher's time is develoted to working Amtrak's trains.  
 
Frequently an organization will develop an incremental cost model but fail to update it as needed.  I encountered contract firms that attempted to bill us using costs models that had not been updated in more than 10 years.   

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, December 1, 2019 3:20 PM

PJS1

 

 
charlie hebdo
 If the fee Amtrak pays is actually the true incremental cost to the freight carrier for allowing Amtrak to operate a few passenger trains daily (or less often) on that carrier's tracks, why should there be any dispute about whether or not Amtrak is underpaying? 

Additionally, that $500 million nice round figure sounds like someone at AAR made it up and that was then posted here. 

 

To know for sure, one would need access to the carrier’s books.  One would need to be able to review the incremental cost model to know what makes it up. 
 
Amtrak could claim that an incremental cost claimed by the host railroad is not incremental.  The railroad would have incurred it anyway.  But the railroad may be able to show otherwise.  This issue frequently arises when the incremental costs include allocations. 
 
To know whether the host railroad's incremental costs are proper, Amtrak’s auditors would need meet with the railroad’s cost accountants to learn how the incremental costs were determined, how they are applied, and whether they are being kept up to date.
 
A host railroad could claim that it had to hire an extra dispatcher to handle Amtrak's trains.  It allocates the total cost to Amtrak.  But upon examination by the auditors, it turns out that only 60 percent of the additional dispatcher's time is develoted to working Amtrak's trains.  
 
Frequently an organization will develop an incremental cost model but fail to update it as needed.  I encountered contract firms that attempted to bill us using costs models that had not been updated in more than 10 years.   
 

Thank you for the accurate information. It's hard to imagine that a line with one LD train running each way daily should be a very large incremental cost on a 79 or less mph line hosting 40 freights each way,  for example. 

One question I have is about overhead (fixed)  costs.  Are they allocated or are the only costs assigned those avoidable ones associated with running a few passenger trains? 

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, December 1, 2019 5:43 PM

SD70Dude

Conrail actually directly operated a lot of passenger trains, as it inherited the commuter operations of its predecessor railroads.  And it lost money doing so.

They were eventually transferred to states or municipalities in the early 1980s. 

I suspect something similar would have happened with regional and long-distance passenger trains in the no-Amtrak/nationwide Conrail scenario, with only the routes that states decided to take over and subsidize continuing to operate

Milwaukee Road operated on it's own dime the Milwaukee to Watertown Commutter train nicknamed locally as the Cannonball.    For a full year after Amtraks formation, as there was talk in Wisconsin of forming an RTA to take it over.   WisDOT was inescapably in the hip pocket of the highway contractors lobby back then and staunchly said NO that the train's passengers could be handled by the existing  "Freeway Flyer" bus service.

Milwaukee Road tried again with Rep Henry Rueces help in the mid-1980's.   Rep Reuce obtained I believe it was $50,000 from Congress, which was enough to run a Budd SPV2000 Demo train for a week, with a trailing Milwaukee Road coach (for signal shunting).    The train was packed but again WisDOT insisted it would establish park and ride lots instead along highways 16 and I-94 and contract with Wisconsin Coach Lines.   

The biggest reason of course is the suburbs West of Milwaukee do not want to kick in ANY money for transportation beyond the minimum Federal mandate.    They will take it for free as they all clamored for it under Obama's proposed $800 million HSR grant.   But they do not want it if they have to pay for it.    Dallas has similar problems with some of it's suburbs in attempting to extend DART.    Allen, TX refuses to apply the sales tax for DART and continues to make excuses as to why it can't be afforded.......the same city that built a $60 million High School Football Stadium promising everyone it would draw all these non-football entertainment acts.   It stands empty outside of High School Football to this day.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 1, 2019 7:11 PM

charlie hebdo
It's hard to imagine that a line with one LD train running each way daily should be a very large incremental cost on a 79 or less mph line hosting 40 freights each way, for example.

Much more so if the line in question has implemented PSR, probably hand-in-hand with at least limited fleeting.  Even opening up a 79mph window at scheduled times would be easy to accommodate 'twice a day'.

Now, should the Amtrak train be delayed in reaching that window, much of the effective planning to accomplish that 'ease' goes away.  You might get some of that back with proper UI and algorithms in a computerized trip-optimizing system, but that's far less likely with conventional dispatching, train orders and signalling.

Expect some creativeness in the 'where you stand is where you sit' department regarding incremental cost allocation.  If you are running a trip-optimization system, the setup and programming costs are... probably no more than a few hours to code, followed by quite a bit of offline testing, probably in full simulation, which couldn't cost very much.  CMStP&P probably could gin up a reasonably full cost analysis for this within days or perhaps hours.  Provided Amtrak can arrange to show up when the computer expects, the overhead fixed cost even for higher speed could be pro-rata calculated with some ease, especially if the line is not of necessity at 'full capacity' during the windows involved so that there is an actual opportunity cost incurred in freight throughput.  

I wonder if existing formulae used to determine detoured train service could be applied in those 'other cases' where Amtrak loses its window through delay for various causes.  Cost might go up if Amtrak invokes its 'privilege' for an unplanned time.  Might not go up if a railroad caused or contributed to the delay.  Perhaps that is as it should be, if the railroad(s) involved don't overprice that cost without reasonable justification, and the powers-that-be behind Amtrak policies don't get too full of themselves...

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, December 1, 2019 11:33 PM

Good push back thread.   Just needs a good rock song to go with it....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XLZszypUV0

 

 

 

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Posted by n012944 on Thursday, December 5, 2019 1:37 PM

charlie hebdo

 

 
CMStPnP

 

 
PNWRMNM
The freight carriers are subsidizing ATK to the tune of about $500million in Federally mandated below market rates for train slots. Abolish the whole abomination! Defund ATK now!

 

"train slots"?   What are those exactly and please feel free to publish the on time stats of any freight train that runs on any major Class I railroad right here in this Forum.    I might be real ignorant of rail operations, I might be real stupid when it comes to dispatching.   But I feel real confident in saying that not a whole lot of them freight trains run on schedule with any frequency these days.   

They used to when I was a kid and you used to be able to set your watch by the Milwaukee Road's Ford Hauler.     Good luck with that today.   

"Train slots" implies there is a schedule for the rest of the trains.  I am pretty sure that isn't true and most follow the rule of "it will get there, when it gets there"   There might be a few freight trains with premium freight that attempt to run on a schedule but overall my guess would be most of the trains are run when they have enough cars to make up a train.   Secondarily I would guess that most trains that run on a strict schedule these days do not have a respectable on time percentage as measured on an annual basis.

I am sure there is an Amtrak impact at times but I think the Railroads are over inflating the impact Amtrak has on their operations.   Until I see scheduled proof in stats that of a line with Amtrak and a line without Amtrak.    I think on both lines you would see pretty effed up railroad operations in relation to schedule which would demonstrate Amtrak has minimal impact.

 

 

 

+1 I think you nailed it! 

Additionally,  no one has offered any evidence to support the validity of the $500 million figure.

 

 

He didn't, and as usual when he talks about railroad operations, is wrong as can be.  On my carrier, every freight and intermodal train has a schedule, and if one is running more than an hour late it is discussed, and plans are made to push it to be back on time.  If a train is held out of a yard, there better be a good reason, and a valid plan put in place to have it moving.  

UPS trains are tracked in real time, and even one minute of delay must be accounted for.  

Every freight and intermodal train has an origination time, the scheduled time it is supposed to leave the originating terminal.  That time must be met, and if the train runs with only 15 cars, so be it.  They are not "held for more traffic."  

 

As for if the trains actually make their schedule, once again he is wrong.

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2019/09/17-csx-transportations-intermodal-network-posts-record-on-time-performance

"Now on-time performance is measured to the minute based on the trip plans for each container and trailer. To-date in the third quarter, intermodal trip-plan compliance stands at 93%, a 20-point improvement since the second quarter of last year."

 

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