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B&O Jet Trailer Trains

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, August 19, 2022 1:18 PM

One of the great promises of TOFC was that it would supplant the boxcar: instead of switching a plurality of leads and sidings and warehousing or cross docking freight, railroads would simply receive highway trailers from all the local sources and forwarders and send them to the appropriate last-mile destination where local drivers would bind on and drive to all sorts of location the railroad could not reach as conveniently.  At one point there were a great many little ramp locations built in hand-rubbing anticipation of a competitive edge.

What killed this was the great die-off in local service and the enormous increase in cost to switch loose flatcars to the various ramps -- it became simpler just to have the trucks go to more 'central' facilities in their own wheels, where people experienced in circus loading or, later, piggypackers and their operators could be concentrated cost-effectively. (See the history and methods of the CP Expressway service for about the best operation of this type I saw).

For a few years, it looked as if a few cars of pigs with M&E could be appended to what was left of passenger service. I think that went south after the years that the railroad mail contracts were canceled, around 1967.  The local-train equivalent that made REA practical died even before locsl LTL might have made a difference...

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Posted by anglecock on Thursday, August 18, 2022 7:01 PM

I remember Conrail having circus loading ramps in small towns like Elmira and Corning and running single trailers in mixed freight trains

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, August 17, 2022 11:30 PM

We're not allowed to go above notch 5 on lots of trains.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, August 17, 2022 4:01 PM

The fast, long freight train has never left.  You could probably group fast M&E trains in the era of the express freight forwarding lines in there, distinct from W.H.Vanderbilt drag-era freight trains, but the era of real fast freight was well established by the time of the BSM, the four Northeastern trains including the NH Speed Witch, the TrucTrains, the Apollos and AlphaJets, and then the Super C and the UPS Z-train experiments around the turn of this century.

No one seems to have wanted to pay for trainloads of high-speed freight.  EL was uniquely poised to give one type of service via the ex-Erie and another via the Cutoff... we see how that worked out.  There is a discussion of how the Lehigh Valley intermodals withered with service cut back progressively in the years before Conrail.  I myself had a plan to carry 60 ISO series 1 marine containers the length of the NEC, making up to 19 stops at each of which any of the container slots could be picked or placed in under 6 minutes, overnight.  Even with subsidy to carry the consist of the Owl behind the dedicated skeleton cars, the demand for this did not develop at the price that would have to be charged to provide it.

Intermodal "Service" within the last few years has become increasingly -- and shockingly to me -- more and more a commodity-priced service, with the kind of margins you'd see on coal trains.  What's valuable is defined delivery time, even if long, instead of quick fulfillment and then precision-scheduled equipment turn.  We still see Z-train operation, but we see a hell of a lot more that never gets the power out of notch 5 if 'they' can help it.  (Of course this is better than the idiot running speed restrictions, probably posed by the equivalent of highway bubbas who think that fuel consumption on locomotives is directly proportional to speed...)

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 17, 2022 1:11 PM

anglecock
Circus style unloading was key roll on roll off. A premium customer like UPS could demand priority unloading ahead of everyone else, A big part of delay is the day or two that it takes to unload a 200 car IM train

If one saw B&O Trailer Jets that were short - it was only because there wasn't that much business on that particular day, not because it was the intent of the company.

When I was Asst. Trainmaster at Mt. Clare Yard in Baltimore that position included the operation of the Wicomoco St. trailer ramp.  The ramp was a circus loading operation with 6 tracks.  The four 'straight' tracks had the capacity of 7 89 foot TTX cars each.  The two 'reverse' tracks had the combined capacity of 7 cars.  The ramp could handle 35 cars with a full spotting.  The operation kept multiple car inspectors, yard truck drivers as well a railroad yard crews busy throughout the day and night.  Tracks of inbound loads would be emptied and the trailers made available for consignee pick up off the ground by the yard truck drivers who would then reload the now empty cars with outbound trailers.  With the trailers loaded on the cars the car inspectors would raise the stanchions and secure the trailers to the cars.  After a track was loaded the railroad yard crew would switch the track as necessary for outbound trains and respot the track with new inbound cars.

During my period of supervision the maximum number of cars handled during a 24 hour period was 145 - the tracks were turned over 4 times within a 24 hour period.

The railroad yard crew would assemble the outbound pick ups, assist the car department with the class 1 air test on the cars, pull the pick up back so the West end cleared Carrolls Tower (with the engine doing the pulling sometimes going up Eutaw St. alongside Camden Station).  Once the outbound train arrived to make the pick up the choreography started with it cutting its power off, pulling into the Carrolls interlocking and being routed back through the interlocking against the pick up, pump up the air on the pick up and then pull back out of the pick up track until the rear of the pick up cleared the specific switch in the plant.  The tower operator would signal the yard crew who would use a fusee to give a STOP hand signal to the road crew.  Once the operator had thrown the appropriate switch he would signal the yard crew who would give the back up hand signall with the fusee and bring the pick up back to a coupling with the through part of the train - apply and release air test on the full train and it was moving again, less than 20 minutes after it had stopped.

Today's premium customer still DEMAND service - no matter if the trains that handle their business is 20 cars or 200 cars.  With container cranes, ramps in the 21st Century have more ability to 'pick and choose' what cars(container/trailers) to handle than existed in the days of circuis loading/unloading.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by anglecock on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 4:33 PM

Circus style unloading was key roll on roll off. A premium customer like UPS could demand priority unloading ahead of everyone else, A big part of delay is the day or two that it takes to unload a 200 car IM train

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 10:37 AM

The short, fast train is a concept that seems to have reached its high point on D&RGW in the late 1960's.  Even Rio Grande modified the concept when it realized that not all trains could be (or needed to be) short and fast.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by pennytrains on Monday, August 15, 2022 6:30 PM

I'm sure the customers would like it, I'm positive the rail fans would like it, but the stock holders?  Maybe if there weren't laws requiring corporations to make a profit, then maybe...

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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B&O Jet Trailer Trains
Posted by anglecock on Sunday, August 14, 2022 12:31 PM

Today I saw a short UPS trailer train of 20 cars in Fonda NY which teminded me of fast BO intermodal trains of 25 cars or less that ran in the 1970s out of Pittsburgh. In these days of long slow trains maybe it's time to think outside the box and be disruptive and bring back the fast freight train

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