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Government Sticking Too Much of Its Nose Into Transportation .. Again!

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Posted by Convicted One on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 1:23 PM

Euclid
By conspiracy theory, I am referring to the belief that such looting is actually happening under the guise of PSR.  It may be a popular belief, but where is the evidence that it is happening?

That's likely a topic for a separate thread. I don't want to annoy people by making them feel we've hijacked their thread. 

And just to be abundanly clear, I do not have any "meat and potatoes" examples to share.  I'm not sure that a shrewd operator doing such a thing would put up any flashing signs to attract attention, fwiw.

You might try calling up CSX and saying "hey, paint your bridge", and see what kind of response you get.  Devil

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 12:40 PM

Convicted One
 
Euclid
If it is really happening, it is happening fast by definition of "short term gain."  I doubt that the damage could be hidden as a run of bad luck.  It almost has the ring of a conspriacy theory. 

 

I think you are making things too "black and white".  There are many flavors of "deferred" maintenance.  Not restriping a parking lot now, that you plan to repave in 2 years, just as a simple illustration.

A business might, for instance defer all 'not absolutely essential' maintenance in order to use the money to buy back stock.  After a few short years, the opportunists sell, and beat a hasty get-away. Is that a "conspiracy", or just shrewd operating?

 

If they were able to legally loot the assets of a major railroad and leave town without the railroad realizing what was happening, that would indeed be shrewd. But that looting is not what I am referring to as being a possible conspiracy theory.

By conspiracy theory, I am referring to the belief that such looting is actually happening under the guise of PSR.  It may be a popular belief, but where is the evidence that it is happening? 

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Posted by Gramp on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 10:38 AM

I'd like to suggest getting a copy of the book "Good Profit" by Charles G. Koch. Refreshing account of creating a business. 

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Posted by Convicted One on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 10:03 AM

Euclid
If it is really happening, it is happening fast by definition of "short term gain."  I doubt that the damage could be hidden as a run of bad luck.  It almost has the ring of a conspriacy theory. 

I think you are making things too "black and white".  There are many flavors of "deferred" maintenance.  Not restriping a parking lot now, that you plan to repave in 2 years, just as a simple illustration.

A business might, for instance defer all 'not absolutely essential' maintenance in order to use the money to buy back stock.  After a few short years, the opportunists sell, and beat a hasty get-away. Is that a "conspiracy", or just shrewd operating?

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Posted by Juniata Man on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 8:02 AM

BNSF has track in BC and Manitoba. CSX has a line in Quebec that runs from Beauharnois (near Montreal) down to Syracuse. Now, admittedly both of these are minor players in Canada and my original comment wasn't intended to imply they were. Both carriers do have experience with Canadian interswitching though.

The real point I was trying to make in my earlier post is that in about two thirds of the US, shippers have only two Class 1's, close to the 75% of Canada in which interswitching is possible. 

Class 1's in this country have a multitude of working interchanges that make competitive switching workable in the US. And this was one of the elements in the NITL proposal, the interchange had to be an existing, working location.

Insofar as a newly built short line connection to a competing Class 1, I don't see this being a practical solution. As mentioned previously, a proposed short line in Colorado faced a firestorm of opposition to reactivating an existing piece of railroad. New construction would face almost insurmountable hurdles of land acquisition and environmental clearances. 

I'll address one last comment to BEAUSABRE; perhaps my sarcasm meter wasn't functioning when I read your comment that Biden's solution is to break up the Class 1's but, I sure as heck haven't seen that anywhere. Perhaps you'd care to expound on your conment?

CW

 

SD60MAC9500
 

How much of Canada is served by BNSF and CSX? The exception proves the rule. The fraction of trackage pales in comparison to CN and CP. In that regard those two are anomalies that take the backseat.. Canada has more of an exclusive market. In that regard reciprocal swithcing may have it's place. However how do you fix interchange friction with RS stateside? Interline issues occur already with missed connections, and rate disputes. The problem we run into is the one size fits all. What works up North doesn't necessarily or will work down here. Similiar to the same argument with why we don't operate short fast freight like Europe.. Dynamics are not the same.

My suggestion of customers chipping in with a shortline for greater access while somewhat serious would require new RoW. Far as I know. No paper barriers exist on RoW constructed, and owned by a Shortline. Or should the customer construct their own spur and to another Class 1? Or better yet.. Maybe all future industrial sites should locate on shortlines that have access to multiple Class 1's. 

 
 
 
 
 

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 7:13 AM
 

mudchicken

 

 
MidlandMike
 
mudchicken
The last time total government control happened, Colorado Midland, DL&NW and nearly D&SL got killed off by the first USRA in my backyard. Others suffered greatly until USRA was pressured to disband.

The Colorado Midland is one of my favorite fallen flags.  Nevertheless, it was essentially a vanity project by a mine owner.  It had no friendly western outlet, and after the mining boom had little on-line traffic.  Other major railroads looked it over, but no takers.  USRA had no actual effect on its inevitable outcome.  Even if it had lasted a few more years, the aforementioned D&SL (w/D&RGW) would have finally buried it. 

 

 

....USRA moved all the traffic over to D&RG after they ran the CM plant into the ground. They were so bad that ATSF walked (ran) away from them.

 

 

The Colorado Midland didn't have the best operating profile either though.. I can see why Santa Fe or anybody else passed on it. From what I've read the CM couldn't handle the traffic.

 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 7:08 AM
 

Juniata Man

 


With regards to SD60MAC9500's post about Canada only having two Class 1's, not entirely the case. CSX and BNSF both have lines in Canada and I utilized interswitching to get from a CN served site to CSX. In fact certain regional railroads in Canada such as the late CMQ also were included in interswitching. I would also note that if you look at a rail map of the US, what you'll see is two carriers serving a very large chunk of territory in the west and two serving a large chunk in the east. Sure, CP, KCS and CN cover the central portion of the country and there you do have multiple carriers but, competitive switching doesn't cover hundreds of miles to reach an interchange. My recollection of the NITL proposal was the interchange had to be within 15-20 air miles of the captive shipper site. That certainly narrows the application.

As to the suggestion a captive shipper partner with a short line to gain access to another Class 1, if you're only rail connection is to a Class 1, how do you propose getting the short line involved? Further, when most short lines are carved out of a Class 1, the carrier selling or leasing the track to the short line includes a paper barrier preventing the short line from interchanging with any Class 1 other than the original owner.

I'll add one last thought; under competitive switching there is nothing that prevents the railroad serving the captive shipper from offering a more competitive rate and retaining the business. Whether the psr mindset at most Class 1's would allow them to do so remains to be seen.

CW

 

 

How much of Canada is served by BNSF and CSX? The exception proves the rule. The fraction of trackage pales in comparison to CN and CP. In that regard those two are anomalies that take the backseat.. Canada has more of an exclusive market. In that regard reciprocal swithcing may have it's place. However how do you fix interchange friction with RS stateside? Interline issues occur already with missed connections, and rate disputes. The problem we run into is the one size fits all. What works up North doesn't necessarily or will work down here. Similiar to the same argument with why we don't operate short fast freight like Europe.. Dynamics are not the same.

My suggestion of customers chipping in with a shortline for greater access while somewhat serious would require new RoW. Far as I know. No paper barriers exist on RoW constructed, and owned by a Shortline. Or should the customer construct their own spur and to another Class 1? Or better yet.. Maybe all future industrial sites should locate on shortlines that have access to multiple Class 1's. 

 
 
 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by ronrunner on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 6:45 AM

Do you and your family want to share the road at 70 mph with chlorine and sulfuric acid .Most of the high hazard stuff probably goes by rail .Chlorine bleach is a dilute the pure stuff is in railcars

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, July 12, 2021 10:51 PM

Biden has the solution, break up the Class 1's and you can pick whichever railroad you want to serve your facility

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Monday, July 12, 2021 10:36 PM

Greyhounds if my boss ran his company like a railroad that used PSR for their operation standards I would be unemployed alongside my 250 work kids aka the entire fleet of drivers we have.  Why PSR doesn't freaking give a crap about the customers that the railroads are supposed to service instead they impose demands on those same customers who don't have any other choice but to accept them.  

 

It's getting freaking ridiculous on the shipping times for our resins from Houston to Kansas City where they are interchanged to the BNSF.  Before PSR it was around 4 days.  Now it's between 1 week to well 3 months for one single car right now.  That one was sent from Houston towards Kansas city but had a bad order on it a bad brake shoe at an inspection.  It missed the train it was supposed to go on.  Rather than hold it till the next day so not to destroy the metrics on their yard they threw it on a train heading for El Paso.  It gets there then was forwarded towards freaking LA.  Then to Chicago.  Then instead of giving it to the BNSF in Chicago the UP sent it to Cheyenne then on to Salt Lake City.  They still have yet to interchange it with the BNSF.  We have already filed a complaint against the UP and still we are getting the runaround from the sales department.  Last track had this car due us in May someplace in Oregon.  Thankfully we ordered 20 cars of the same resin at the time as this screw up and got the other 19.  

 

If I had a driver doing that with a load of my customers products my carrier wouldn't be hauling cattle waste for a nickel in less than a week.  

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, July 12, 2021 10:13 PM

MidlandMike
 
mudchicken
The last time total government control happened, Colorado Midland, DL&NW and nearly D&SL got killed off by the first USRA in my backyard. Others suffered greatly until USRA was pressured to disband.

The Colorado Midland is one of my favorite fallen flags.  Nevertheless, it was essentially a vanity project by a mine owner.  It had no friendly western outlet, and after the mining boom had little on-line traffic.  Other major railroads looked it over, but no takers.  USRA had no actual effect on its inevitable outcome.  Even if it had lasted a few more years, the aforementioned D&SL (w/D&RGW) would have finally buried it. 

....USRA moved all the traffic over to D&RG after they ran the CM plant into the ground. They were so bad that ATSF walked (ran) away from them.

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Posted by Euclid on Monday, July 12, 2021 10:07 PM

Convicted One
 
Euclid
But if railroads are actually consuming their capital, would it not be obvious as the physical plant falls apart?  Is the Country actually going to just stand by as vulture capitalists rob us of our railroads?

 

How long does it take for deferred maintenance to snowball to the point it can no longer be explained as a "run of bad luck"?  Long enough for the stockholders  to make their get away? Broken Heart

 

If it is really happening, it is happening fast by definition of "short term gain."  I doubt that the damage could be hidden as a run of bad luck.  It almost has the ring of a conspriacy theory. 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, July 12, 2021 9:43 PM

mudchicken
The last time total government control happened, Colorado Midland, DL&NW and nearly D&SL got killed off by the first USRA in my backyard. Others suffered greatly until USRA was pressured to disband.

The Colorado Midland is one of my favorite fallen flags.  Nevertheless, it was essentially a vanity project by a mine owner.  It had no friendly western outlet, and after the mining boom had little on-line traffic.  Other major railroads looked it over, but no takers.  USRA had no actual effect on its inevitable outcome.  Even if it had lasted a few more years, the aforementioned D&SL (w/D&RGW) would have finally buried it.

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Posted by Convicted One on Monday, July 12, 2021 9:40 PM

Euclid
But if railroads are actually consuming their capital, would it not be obvious as the physical plant falls apart?  Is the Country actually going to just stand by as vulture capitalists rob us of our railroads?

How long does it take for deferred maintenance to snowball to the point it can no longer be explained as a "run of bad luck"?  Long enough for the stockholders  to make their get away? Broken Heart

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, July 12, 2021 9:22 PM

Euclid
...Is the Country actually going to just stand by as vulture capitalists rob us of our railroads?

Most citizens don't know and don't care.  Congress has thought of railroads as essential, but with more populist being elected, even that is not a guarantee.

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Posted by Euclid on Monday, July 12, 2021 7:55 PM

 

tree68
 
Euclid
Give me an example of how and why a business would decide to avoid short term profits. 

 

Because they want to keep some of that money for continued growth.

Of course, a company wants a certain amount of short term profit, although it's completely normal for a new company to operate at a loss for several years.  

An existing company would theoretically be operating at some level of profit, wisely using their income to foster growth as well as provide income for the owners.

When you say "short term profits" I would opine that many people think of vulture capitalists, who are simply interested in how much they can wring out of a company with no thoughts to future growth, or even future operation.  

 

Yes I have heard that charge about vulture capitalists.  That is what I had in mind when I mentioned taking short term profit at the expense of consuming your profit making apparatus and thus putting the company out of business.  But is that actually happening?  It seems that Labor says it is, but Labor sees PSR as a threat to jobs.  But if railroads are actually consuming their capital, would it not be obvious as the physical plant falls apart?  Is the Country actually going to just stand by as vulture capitalists rob us of our railroads?

 

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, July 12, 2021 7:28 PM

Euclid
Give me an example of how and why a business would decide to avoid short term profits. 

Because they want to keep some of that money for continued growth.

Of course, a company wants a certain amount of short term profit, although it's completely normal for a new company to operate at a loss for several years.  

An existing company would theoretically be operating at some level of profit, wisely using their income to foster growth as well as provide income for the owners.

When you say "short term profits" I would opine that many people think of vulture capitalists, who are simply interested in how much they can wring out of a company with no thoughts to future growth, or even future operation.  

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Posted by Euclid on Monday, July 12, 2021 6:57 PM

 

What is wrong with short term profits?  The concept is presented as though you get less profit by having it arrive too quickly, and so with taking short term profit, you consume your profit-making apparatus and must go out of business.  Usually a business wants to make as much profit as possible, as soon as possible.   Give me an example of how and why a business would decide to avoid short term profits. 

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, July 12, 2021 6:16 PM

BaltACD

 

 
greyhounds
 
Overmod
I'd call it a cop-out until the 'correct' use of PSR techniques is clearly distinguished from the financier-optimized aspects.  Which is more than just Euclidean-type semantics. Of course, to get a sensible discussion you have to divorce discussion of 'railroads' as generators of effective transportation from 'railroads' as vehicles for maximum shareholder/owner perceived benefit.   
Well, you can call it a cop-out, or you can call it a banana.  It doesn’t matter.  PSR works. 

 

1)    Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who don’t understand it.  So, there are going to be problems until those people gain understanding or they get let go.

 

2)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who won’t accept it.  They’ll fight it and try to make it not work.  So, there are going to be more problems until those people gain acceptance or they get let go.

 

3)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be needed adjustments made to the original plan.   The Army has a saying: “No operational plan survives contact with the enemy.”  It’s pretty much the same in commerce.  “No operational plan survives contact with the customers.”  You’re going to have to adjust and accept changes.  That’s what is going on with PSR.

 
PSR is all about getting more efficient rail transportation.  It’s about getting more economic output while using fewer economic resources.  If someone loses their job with a railroad because of PSR it will be a hardship on that person.  But, for the overall economic welfare getting more for less is good.

 

PSR has been about cutting muscle and hamstring the organization from seeking a increased level of the business as more business, with the hacked apart physical plant will drive up costs exponentially thus trashing the 'God' of PSR the Operating Ratio.

 

It's just cost cutting dressed up with a fancy (but inaccurate) label, designed by folks who have a cavalier attitude about disposable labor ("they get let go") like they were rolls of toilet paper. All for short term profits,  not about growing revenue and customer base. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, July 12, 2021 6:15 PM

BaltACD

 

 
greyhounds
 
Overmod
I'd call it a cop-out until the 'correct' use of PSR techniques is clearly distinguished from the financier-optimized aspects.  Which is more than just Euclidean-type semantics. Of course, to get a sensible discussion you have to divorce discussion of 'railroads' as generators of effective transportation from 'railroads' as vehicles for maximum shareholder/owner perceived benefit.   
Well, you can call it a cop-out, or you can call it a banana.  It doesn’t matter.  PSR works. 

 

1)    Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who don’t understand it.  So, there are going to be problems until those people gain understanding or they get let go.

 

2)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who won’t accept it.  They’ll fight it and try to make it not work.  So, there are going to be more problems until those people gain acceptance or they get let go.

 

3)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be needed adjustments made to the original plan.   The Army has a saying: “No operational plan survives contact with the enemy.”  It’s pretty much the same in commerce.  “No operational plan survives contact with the customers.”  You’re going to have to adjust and accept changes.  That’s what is going on with PSR.

 
PSR is all about getting more efficient rail transportation.  It’s about getting more economic output while using fewer economic resources.  If someone loses their job with a railroad because of PSR it will be a hardship on that person.  But, for the overall economic welfare getting more for less is good.

 

PSR has been about cutting muscle and hamstring the organization from seeking a increased level of the business as more business, with the hacked apart physical plant will drive up costs exponentially thus trashing the 'God' of PSR the Operating Ratio.

 

It's just cost cutting dressed up with a fancy (but inaccurate) label, designed by folks who have a cavalier attitude about disposable labor ("let them go") like they were rolls of toilet paper. All for short term profits,  not about growing revenue and customer base. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, July 12, 2021 5:51 PM

greyhounds
 
Overmod
I'd call it a cop-out until the 'correct' use of PSR techniques is clearly distinguished from the financier-optimized aspects.  Which is more than just Euclidean-type semantics. Of course, to get a sensible discussion you have to divorce discussion of 'railroads' as generators of effective transportation from 'railroads' as vehicles for maximum shareholder/owner perceived benefit.   
Well, you can call it a cop-out, or you can call it a banana.  It doesn’t matter.  PSR works. 

 

1)    Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who don’t understand it.  So, there are going to be problems until those people gain understanding or they get let go.

 

2)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who won’t accept it.  They’ll fight it and try to make it not work.  So, there are going to be more problems until those people gain acceptance or they get let go.

 

3)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be needed adjustments made to the original plan.   The Army has a saying: “No operational plan survives contact with the enemy.”  It’s pretty much the same in commerce.  “No operational plan survives contact with the customers.”  You’re going to have to adjust and accept changes.  That’s what is going on with PSR.

 
PSR is all about getting more efficient rail transportation.  It’s about getting more economic output while using fewer economic resources.  If someone loses their job with a railroad because of PSR it will be a hardship on that person.  But, for the overall economic welfare getting more for less is good.

PSR has been about cutting muscle and hamstring the organization from seeking a increased level of the business as more business, with the hacked apart physical plant will drive up costs exponentially thus trashing the 'God' of PSR the Operating Ratio.

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Posted by greyhounds on Monday, July 12, 2021 4:49 PM

Overmod
I'd call it a cop-out until the 'correct' use of PSR techniques is clearly distinguished from the financier-optimized aspects.  Which is more than just Euclidean-type semantics. Of course, to get a sensible discussion you have to divorce discussion of 'railroads' as generators of effective transportation from 'railroads' as vehicles for maximum shareholder/owner perceived benefit.  

Well, you can call it a cop-out, or you can call it a banana.  It doesn’t matter.  PSR works. 

 

1)    Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who don’t understand it.  So, there are going to be problems until those people gain understanding or they get let go.

 

2)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be people who won’t accept it.  They’ll fight it and try to make it not work.  So, there are going to be more problems until those people gain acceptance or they get let go.

 

3)   Whenever a major change such as PSR occurs there are going to be needed adjustments made to the original plan.   The Army has a saying: “No operational plan survives contact with the enemy.”  It’s pretty much the same in commerce.  “No operational plan survives contact with the customers.”  You’re going to have to adjust and accept changes.  That’s what is going on with PSR.

 
PSR is all about getting more efficient rail transportation.  It’s about getting more economic output while using fewer economic resources.  If someone loses their job with a railroad because of PSR it will be a hardship on that person.  But, for the overall economic welfare getting more for less is good.
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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, July 12, 2021 2:04 PM

The last time total government control happened, Colorado Midland, DL&NW and nearly D&SL got killed off by the first USRA in my backyard. Others suffered greatly until USRA was pressured to disband.

Thank god neither iteration of the Prince Plan ever happened.

Nuf sed.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, July 12, 2021 1:29 PM

greyhounds
 
zugmann
No worries - I believe PSR will be seen as one of the Great Failures of the 21st Century.  
I’ll disagree.  I see PSR as a good concept that has had some poor implementations.  It will get fixed, or people will be fired.
 
It’s easier to fix problems in the private sector than in government.  And it’s much quicker too.

My observation is that PSR came on CSX and wrecked all the existing schedules and replaced them with chaos.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, July 12, 2021 12:48 PM

Overmod
 
zugmann
Although the "good idea - poor implementation" seems like a cop-out to me.

 

I'd call it a cop-out until the 'correct' use of PSR techniques is clearly distinguished from the financier-optimized aspects.  Which is more than just Euclidean-type semantics.

 

Of course, to get a sensible discussion you have to divorce discussion of 'railroads' as generators of effective transportation from 'railroads' as vehicles for maximum shareholder/owner perceived benefit.  

 

  Euclidean-type semantics. Laugh

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Posted by Ulrich on Monday, July 12, 2021 12:13 PM

Overmod

 

 
Of course, to get a sensible discussion you have to divorce discussion of 'railroads' as generators of effective transportation from 'railroads' as vehicles for maximum shareholder/owner perceived benefit.  
 

 

They're not mutually exclusive.. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, July 12, 2021 12:12 PM

Inseparable.  PSR was developed to maximize short-term profitability. 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, July 12, 2021 12:10 PM

zugmann
Although the "good idea - poor implementation" seems like a cop-out to me.

I'd call it a cop-out until the 'correct' use of PSR techniques is clearly distinguished from the financier-optimized aspects.  Which is more than just Euclidean-type semantics.

Of course, to get a sensible discussion you have to divorce discussion of 'railroads' as generators of effective transportation from 'railroads' as vehicles for maximum shareholder/owner perceived benefit.  

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Posted by Ulrich on Monday, July 12, 2021 12:06 PM

ronrunner

Was there not a law that said that US railroads had to be domestically owned hence Grand Trunk which had a separate charter from CN and DT&I

 

 

That brings up a good question.. what constitutes the nationality of a corporation? Is it where the company is  headquartered? In what jursidiction the company is chartered? .. where the majority of its shareholders live?.. I don't know. CN (for example) has shareholders in Canada and the US as well as in other countries.. Americans as well as Canadians make up its workforce and senior management.. So is CN Canadian, American, multinational? Were the CN KCS merger to go through CN US would retain an American Headquarters.. I'm not sure if this would be a legal requirement or simply good form and the prudent thing to do in order to give Americans the impression that CN US is based in the US. Likely the CN US would be separately incorporated in the US as well.. for all intents and purposes an American corporation.. separate from the Canadian parent company. 

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Posted by ronrunner on Monday, July 12, 2021 11:59 AM

Was there not a law that said that US railroads had to be domestically owned hence Grand Trunk which had a separate charter from CN and DT&I

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