Freight, Amtrak and delay penalties

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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, December 7, 2019 12:04 PM

n012944
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."  

But, what does this actually mean?  Is this "availability"?  What does the trip plan decide is "available"?  Two hours after scheduled train arrival?  Four?  Does it vary by customer? Does CSX allow time after arrival for placement, then grounding, the "available".  93% sounds great, but what is it and what relation to train performance is there?

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

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, December 7, 2019 4:31 PM

oltmannd
 
n012944
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."   

But, what does this actually mean?  Is this "availability"?  What does the trip plan decide is "available"?  Two hours after scheduled train arrival?  Four?  Does it vary by customer? Does CSX allow time after arrival for placement, then grounding, the "available".  93% sounds great, but what is it and what relation to train performance is there?

Train runners (Operating Dept.) are measured on getting trains between their designated origins and destinations on time.  Some of the delays at origin are because 'gate closing' time was extended to make some customers box and other 'cutomer oriented' reasons.  Some delay are 100% railroad in nature.

How and in what order 'boxes' are made available to customers is a matter of protocol at the destination terminal.  No having been involved in a intermodal terminal from a working standpoint - I have no real idea of what those protocols are.

Back in the middle 70's when I supervised switching of trailer trains into B&O's Wicomoco Street Ramp in Baltimore, Trailer personnel would mark the crew switch lists for the string of trailer(s) they wanted spotted at the first available unloading track (all tracks were circus style loading and unloading).  The loading/unloading was performed by contracted drivers using 'yard tractors' with a hydrauliclly operated 5th wheel to permit expeditious unloading of inbound trains, after the Car Dept. had 'cranked down' the stantions holding the trailers on the arriving railcars. 

What metrics were applied to the operating performance of intermodal terminals I wasn't party to.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, December 8, 2019 1:00 PM

n012944
As for if the trains actually make their schedule, once again he is wrong.

  "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."

If you read my post carefully which you never seem to be able to do.   I made an exception for preimium trains.    Not only did you say I was wrong but you used all premium trains to refute what I said for examples.   So if I am to believe what you stated I would have to also believe that UPS is a non-premium customer.

Even so the railroads have had their share of issues with reliability and UPS.   If only the UPS standard were used for the rest of the shippers on the line perhaps there wouldn't be so many complaints out there about reliability and being on-time and per diem charges........that do not take into account LATE delivery.

We can also do a test.  Lets put you in a Boxcar and seal it and ship it from New York to Chicago and you can have as much water as you need along with your stop watch.    Since the car is bound to arrive on time.  I am sure you will do just fine without any food.    Don't expect any of us to wait trackside for arrival though.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, December 8, 2019 1:13 PM

oltmannd
But, what does this actually mean?  Is this "availability"?  What does the trip plan decide is "available"?  Two hours after scheduled train arrival?  Four?  Does it vary by customer? Does CSX allow time after arrival for placement, then grounding, the "available".  93% sounds great, but what is it and what relation to train performance is there?

Good question.........prepare face for blowing of smoke.....lol.Big Smile

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, December 8, 2019 2:08 PM

CMStPnP
"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."

Not to throw acetate on this, but I think you two are using two different senses of 'scheduled' past each other.

Under the "S" in PSR, once 'they have enough cars to make up a train', that train gets 'scheduled' -- it is called at a particular expeditious time, is expected to get over the road in a window of time that may, in fact, be defined quite stringently but not in a printed 'timetable' or the equivalent, and is expected to arrive at some reasonably accurate time -- all as determined by the railroad for its own operating convenience, not the shipper's in getting goods ASAP or even by the shipper's idea of JIT.

Where the fun starts for me is in how the last-mile delivery, to sidings or ramps or whatever, is being scheduled.  In the past, peddler/way freights were low-class trains, subject to anything 'mainline' on the schedule, and you might see them sitting in various sidings until a convenient time to let them creep onward a bit, or running like hell to get between sidings or from one side of the track to the other.

In a very few cases, you'd see one of these trains run past a few delivery sidings in order to drop a 'prioritized' car or cut at some facility when expected, or if delays were so severe as to compromise delivery, but that was likely rare.  (I only know about it because a chemical works in north Tenafly, on the Erie's old Northern branch, would sometimes get cars that way.)  Then they'd go back to catch what was missed, perhaps as part of the otherwise trailing-point siding work in the reverse direction.  Nowadays I'd expect this kind of service to be scheduled by PSR to be AROUND all the now-scheduled mainline moves ... but not have a hard schedule of siding arrivals and times.  (Arguably they could make one, but would it usually have any more particular accord after a few shoves than, say, a Texas Eagle schedule?)  And yet this is a critical part of the customer's experience, and really the only major concern he has with shipping -- his only concern with the railroad's convenience is that it makes his cost lower, likely whether or not he's also an investor or other financial stakeholder in the railroad.

Now, if you are UPS you have the standing to demand your own schedule, even to the extent that you pay extra for guaranteed Z timing or right-of-way in the company's scheduling algorithms.  That's shipper-determined scheduling (or at least shipper-enforced) which is very different from a railroad knowing more precisely where its trains are supposed to be and when they will 'arrive' at control points, etc.

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Posted by n012944 on Sunday, December 8, 2019 2:37 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
n012944
As for if the trains actually make their schedule, once again he is wrong.

 

  "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."

Did you bother to read my post.?   "On my carrier, every manfest and intermodal train has a schedule."

Did you miss that manifest word?  Or the Intermodal?  Not all intermodal or manifest are "premium traffic" so your exception is null and void.

I guess you missed this one as well.  "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."  

 

Your guess is wrong. 

 

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Posted by n012944 on Sunday, December 8, 2019 2:45 PM

Overmod

 

 
 

Under the "S" in PSR, once 'they have enough cars to make up a train', that train gets 'scheduled' --  

 

That is incorrect, at least with my employers version of PSR.  The manifest and intermodal trains is scheduled to leave the same time every day.  Q501 is scheduled to leave Barr Yard every day at 22:30, Q564 is scheduled out at 14:00, Q641 at 19:45, and so on.  Those trains had better be out by that time, or the yard takes a hit on its originations, which is one way on how the managers get their bonus.  Miss enough originations, and they take a hit on their bonus.  Those train depart in their time slot no matter if they are 20 cars, or 150 cars.

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, December 9, 2019 12:51 PM

n012944
Those train depart in their time slot no matter if they are 20 cars, or 150 cars.

Or if it's the old chestnut of just the engines running out the yard and running back into the yard to then grab the cars? 

 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 Monday, December 9, 2019 1:19 PM

zugmann
 
n012944
Those train depart in their time slot no matter if they are 20 cars, or 150 cars. 

Or if it's the old chestnut of just the engines running out the yard and running back into the yard to then grab the cars? 

Depends on who is trying to 'fudge' the metrics.  Yes!  Terminal managements have been known to operate light engines identified as 'the train' past the OS point that determines the Origin time and then bring them back into the yard to actually get the train - and thereby make the delay show on Dispatching in not being able to get the train to the other end of its run 'within standard'.  Games and Game Players.

By the same token Terminal Mangements may hold trains out - and from their viewpoint pile the delay on Dispatching - the second thing is, it buys the terminal 'additional hours' when it comes to calculating 'car scheduling' on the throughput of the terminal.  Games and Game Players.

 

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, December 9, 2019 2:33 PM

About "scheduled trains".  

I can speak directly about NS and before that, CR. 

Since TOP in 2002, NS has attempted to run every Premium Intermodal, Intermodal, Triple Crown, Merchandise, Multilevel and a handful of coal trains on their commercial schedule.  All of them.  Period.  Tonnage railroading died on NS with TOP.  You had to run all the trains, every scheduled day, on time. 

Now, some were annulled and combined for various reasons, but that generally never got above about 5% of the total. 

Sometimes, you'd hold a train for connections when an important inbound train was late, or you were a bit behind building a train in the forwarding (aka departure) yard.

But, the expecation was to "run the plan" every day and every train in the plan is measured.  Too may short trains or extras being run meant it was time to tweak the plan, not "ad hoc" the operations.

On Conrail, they ran the whole intermodal network by plan every day since the intermodal service group was created.  They measured every train's performance, as well.

They attempted a couple of times to "run the plan", but ran afoul of highly seasonal merchandise traffic volumes.  The plan left the RR broke at the end of the first quarter, so they went back to ad-hocing the plan like mad (decisions were made at the system level unlike NS that delegated these decisions to the field)

 

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

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, December 9, 2019 2:45 PM

Shipment level performance measures are a different animal.

Trip plans for each shipment are created by the release by the customer, ideally, or by the first movement event, more practically.  The plan is built by finding the route and then figuring out what trains and connections the car will use to get to destination.  The route is found by either an algorithm or a set of table maintained by the service design people based on the train and blocking plan. 

The measure at the end of the trip usually has a tolerance on it.  NS uses 24. UP uses 28 hours (which I think is better..) 

It is difficult to keep the local service plan in sync with actual operations.  Gaps produce trip plans with bad ETAs.  

A decent RR will have shipment performance around 80%.  You need train performance and connection performance in the high 80s, low 90s to get this level of shipment performance.

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

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Posted by n012944 on Monday, December 9, 2019 2:59 PM

BaltACD

 

 
zugmann
 
n012944
Those train depart in their time slot no matter if they are 20 cars, or 150 cars. 

Or if it's the old chestnut of just the engines running out the yard and running back into the yard to then grab the cars? 

 

Depends on who is trying to 'fudge' the metrics.  Yes!  Terminal managements have been known to operate light engines identified as 'the train' past the OS point that determines the Origin time and then bring them back into the yard to actually get the train - and thereby make the delay show on Dispatching in not being able to get the train to the other end of its run 'within standard'.  Games and Game Players.

The train will then re os when leaving the second time, and then depart late.

 

BaltACD

By the same token Terminal Mangements may hold trains out - and from their viewpoint pile the delay on Dispatching - the second thing is, it buys the terminal 'additional hours' when it comes to calculating 'car scheduling' on the throughput of the terminal.  Games and Game Players.

 

Any train that is held out by a terminal is reported to the general manager, who will have a conference call with the superintendent of the terminal, who better have a good plan on getting the train in.

 

The games and rules have changed more in the last two years than they have for the rest of my time on the railroad.  The old games are not so easy to get away with anymore.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, December 9, 2019 3:34 PM

n012944
The games and rules have changed more in the last two years than they have for the rest of my time on the railroad.  The old games are not so easy to get away with anymore.

The players always find ways to game the rules - it may not be simple, but where there is a will (and someone bonus depending upon it) a way will be found.

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