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The Invisible Railroad (Again)

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The Invisible Railroad (Again)
Posted by GeoPRR on Thursday, October 14, 2021 6:32 PM

We've all been aware of the continuing, losing struggle by retailers of all products from food to hardware to keep the shelves stocked.  More and more, we have to temper what we need by what is available.  The news is unending about the broken supply chain.  Hundreds of ships backed up at ports waiting to unload.  Thousands of containers stacked up at those ports awaiting overland trucking to inland destinations.  Barely a whisper about rail movement of those containers and its successes or failures.  Just analysis of ocean and trucking problems.  After all, as one pundit on my local radio station put it, every single thing you eat or use in your life came by truck.  Railroad?  What's that?  For all the usual reasons, I think the railroads need to do a better job in telling their story and entering the public awareness.  Do you agree, or doesn't it matter, since the Class I's don't run passenger trains anymore?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, October 14, 2021 7:00 PM

Used to see ads on TV by railroads, particularly NS and BNSF.  They seem to have disappeared about the time PSR became a thing.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, October 14, 2021 7:04 PM

Still see the occasional Amtrak billboard as I travel up and down I-95 between Maryland and Florida.

When I went through Chicago going to Road America last year I recall seeing several METRA billboards.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, October 14, 2021 7:19 PM

Not calling for a return to the billboard boxcars of yesteryear, but a couple of initials and a number on the side of an oxide colored boxcar, etc, doesn't do much in terms of promoting the business.

Of course, every gallon of paint that goes onto the side of a railcar is money that isn't going to the bottom line...

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, October 14, 2021 7:47 PM

tree68
Not calling for a return to the billboard boxcars of yesteryear, but a couple of initials and a number on the side of an oxide colored boxcar, etc, doesn't do much in terms of promoting the business.

Of course, every gallon of paint that goes onto the side of a railcar is money that isn't going to the bottom line...

Just build the cars in bare metal - put the required information on the car and turn the rest of the car over to taggers for the 'finish' coat.

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Posted by Backshop on Thursday, October 14, 2021 8:15 PM

With all the abuse that the ships, ports and trucks are taking, maybe it's better to be invisible.

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Posted by Enzoamps on Thursday, October 14, 2021 10:08 PM

If the ships can't get into port, and the containers can't get on the docks, and the containers cannot get through the port facilities, then they won't get on the trains for distribution around the country and onto our store shelves.

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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, October 14, 2021 10:49 PM

I'm under the impression that the railroads want to be treated as a utility. Like an underground pipeline.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, October 18, 2021 10:14 AM

Enzoamps

If the ships can't get into port, and the containers can't get on the docks, and the containers cannot get through the port facilities, then they won't get on the trains for distribution around the country and onto our store shelves.

 

 https://www.gocomics.com/jeffstahler/2021/10/14

 

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 18, 2021 12:37 PM

Gramp

I'm under the impression that the railroads want to be treated as a utility. Like an underground pipeline.

 

Most everybody uses gasoline that at one time or another, in oil or gasoline form, went through a pipeline. But I never see any advertizing for pipeline companies. 

     For advertizing to be effective, it has to connect with the buyer for the product. We, the general public, are not the direct buyers of transportaion. The shippers & receivers are. Any advertizing money that doesn't affect their buying is money wasted.


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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:23 PM

Murphy Siding

 

 
Gramp

I'm under the impression that the railroads want to be treated as a utility. Like an underground pipeline.

 

 

 

Most everybody uses gasoline that at one time or another, in oil or gasoline form, went through a pipeline. But I never see any advertizing for pipeline companies. 

     For advertizing to be effective, it has to connect with the buyer for the product. We, the general public, are not the direct buyers of transportaion. The shippers & receivers are. Any advertizing money that doesn't affect their buying is money wasted.


 

 

Pipeline companies will only be doing business to refineries and others within their industry.  Pipelines are well represented in articles and advertising in industry mags like the Oil & Gas Journal.  On the other hand, railroads sell to all sorts of manufactures and industries, who probably don't read Railway Age.  So it helps for them to reach a wider audience.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:44 PM

MidlandMike

 

 
Murphy Siding

 

 
Gramp

I'm under the impression that the railroads want to be treated as a utility. Like an underground pipeline.

 

 

 

Most everybody uses gasoline that at one time or another, in oil or gasoline form, went through a pipeline. But I never see any advertizing for pipeline companies. 

     For advertizing to be effective, it has to connect with the buyer for the product. We, the general public, are not the direct buyers of transportaion. The shippers & receivers are. Any advertizing money that doesn't affect their buying is money wasted.


 

 

 

 

Pipeline companies will only be doing business to refineries and others within their industry.  Pipelines are well represented in articles and advertising in industry mags like the Oil & Gas Journal.  On the other hand, railroads sell to all sorts of manufactures and industries, who probably don't read Railway Age.  So it helps for them to reach a wider audience.

 

I disagree to a point.  Those that could use rail freight transportation know rail is out there.  I'm sure they even know which railroad they would have to deal with, at least on their end.  That itself could be the problem from past experiences.

The large class ones, at least most of them, only want certain types and volumes of freight.  They most likely don't want most of the inquiries that mass advertising on the side of freight equipment would bring in.  

I've noticed some railroads have put their web address on some equipment.  Maybe not the bill board advertising of yore, but it's something.  Now, if they can just keep it from being covered up by "street artists."

Jeff

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 18, 2021 9:49 PM

MidlandMike
 
Murphy Siding 
Gramp

I'm under the impression that the railroads want to be treated as a utility. Like an underground pipeline. 

Most everybody uses gasoline that at one time or another, in oil or gasoline form, went through a pipeline. But I never see any advertizing for pipeline companies. 

     For advertizing to be effective, it has to connect with the buyer for the product. We, the general public, are not the direct buyers of transportaion. The shippers & receivers are. Any advertizing money that doesn't affect their buying is money wasted. 

Pipeline companies will only be doing business to refineries and others within their industry.  Pipelines are well represented in articles and advertising in industry mags like the Oil & Gas Journal.  On the other hand, railroads sell to all sorts of manufactures and industries, who probably don't read Railway Age.  So it helps for them to reach a wider audience.

My father-in-law for a number of years was an operator at a Sun Oil pipeline station in Akron, OH.  His hours were somewhat irregular and were designed around when shipments destined Akron were scheduled to arrive so he could perform the necessary action to properly receive and 'warehouse' the shipment in the station's tank farm. 

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, October 19, 2021 6:50 AM

Recall, too, that at one time most of the cars on the rails were owned by the railroads.  That is much less the case today.

And, in today's litigous society you probably don't want to provide suggestions for more people to sue to those so inclined. 

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Posted by mudchicken on Friday, October 22, 2021 10:15 AM

Once you get the sea cans out of the ports, they go pretty quick. Intermodal still has capacity to spare. It's getting the things out of the ports. In LA, the UP (All 5, except LB) and BNSF (Hobart & San Bdno) intermodal terminals are not directly in the ports. The coordinated dance with the railroads and the port docks works fine. The problem is they can't transload that much faster, the empties are piling up and the issue inside the port that are unrelated to the railroad.

For the loose car/ boxcar stuff, the shippers shot themself in the foot long ago being cheap. New warehouses tend to have no rail spurs. They did not want to pay for the track structure and the railroads got tired of being "used" in the rate game with the truckers. (railroads have not built all the way in to the warehouse buildings on their dime since the 1950's; the industry pays its own way off the industry lead or railroad R/W line up to their building.) With lease buildings, changes of ownership or new contracts to serve an existing building, the landlord wants no part of the responsibility for maintaining track or co-signing on a track lease for a facility. (surviving remnants of the Elkins Act and lack of a valid contract end service - nobody gets special treatment) Plenty of places have been denied service because the industry/landlord won't maintain the track or otherwise keep it safe to operate. (I've recently seen where truckers are having similar issues with paving and dock facilities in what are jokingly called pothole-farms. Spreadsheet mentality strikes again.)

Cross Dock operations still have capacity, but they too are largely out of the ports and waiting to get stuff off the boat.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, October 22, 2021 2:00 PM

Would it 'pay' for some ocean carrier to dedicate a vessel or two to returning empty boxes back to the Far East?  Or do the existing ocean carriers feature that it is cheaper for them to construct NEW boxes in the Far East than it is to transport empty boxes back for reloading?

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Posted by mudchicken on Saturday, October 23, 2021 12:26 AM

They only fill out the space with the non-revenue stuff at the end of the loading process.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 1:46 PM

MidlandMike

Used to see ads on TV by railroads, particularly NS and BNSF.  They seem to have disappeared about the time PSR became a thing.

 

Depends on what you're watching.  I see CSX maybe once or twice a day and the AAR hourly.  The AAR even has radio commercials in my area.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 2:36 PM

mudchicken
They only fill out the space with the non-revenue stuff at the end of the loading process.

Maybe it is time for the port terminal areas to start charging 'Storage Charges' for empty boxes on their property - storage charges sufficient to entice the carriers to get the boxes off terminal grounds and back on ships headed wherever the ocean carrier is seeking boxes to load.

Storage on someone else's property should never be free and the storage charges should be high enough that people don't want the terminals storing containers for them.

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 7:51 PM

Seems to be a two edged sword - Raise the storage fees and the steamship lines go elsewhere (limited places they can go, but...)

There are places in Wilmington (Port of LA) that store several thousand sea-cans in stacks 6-8 containers high. BNSF Watson Yard has two such places around it - the remaining adjoining space is all oil refinery grounds. There also is a massive site near SP-UP Colton Yard that was formerly loose car storage and the old yard before the hump facility.

Fun with the trade imballance.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 8:03 PM

mudchicken
Seems to be a two edged sword - Raise the storage fees and the steamship lines go elsewhere (limited places they can go, but...)

In the present market - where else can the ocean carriers go?  Where can they go where it won't cost them more?  Who is actually controlling the 'market' for empty ocean cans?

Should it be the Terminal's responsibility to find land for can storage or should it be the responsibility of the can owner.  Do the can owners even care - do they find it cheaper to build cans in Asia, get one trip out of them and ditch them in the America's ?

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 10:02 PM

Not disagreeing with your point - but the politics that goes with this really sux. But then the politicians currently claiming they are fixing this mess are clueless.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 10:15 PM

BaltACD
  Do the can owners even care - do they find it cheaper to build cans in Asia, get one trip out of them and ditch them in the America's ?

We've got one for storage at our fire training center.  Price wasn't bad...

Some fire departments are using them to build burn props.

And there's always tiny houses...

LarryWhistling
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, October 29, 2021 8:41 AM

GeoPRR

We've all been aware of the continuing, losing struggle by retailers of all products from food to hardware to keep the shelves stocked.  More and more, we have to temper what we need by what is available.  The news is unending about the broken supply chain.  Hundreds of ships backed up at ports waiting to unload.  Thousands of containers stacked up at those ports awaiting overland trucking to inland destinations.  Barely a whisper about rail movement of those containers and its successes or failures.  Just analysis of ocean and trucking problems.  After all, as one pundit on my local radio station put it, every single thing you eat or use in your life came by truck.  Railroad?  What's that?  For all the usual reasons, I think the railroads need to do a better job in telling their story and entering the public awareness.  Do you agree, or doesn't it matter, since the Class I's don't run passenger trains anymore?

 

Devil's advocate view:

     As I watched the video of ethanol cars derailing on the Fairmont thread on this forum, I thought what if those cars rolling down the hill had a railroad slogan big & bold painted on the side in bright letters? Something like "Murphy Siding Railroad- Safety is our first priority!" How would that look being repeatedly shown on the nightly news and living forever in internet memes? Devil

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, October 29, 2021 8:43 AM

tree68
 
BaltACD
  Do the can owners even care - do they find it cheaper to build cans in Asia, get one trip out of them and ditch them in the America's ?

 

We've got one for storage at our fire training center.  Price wasn't bad...

Some fire departments are using them to build burn props.

And there's always tiny houses...

 

We have 2 at work we use for overflow storage. They're built pretty tough and weathertight.

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, October 29, 2021 9:37 AM

Murphy Siding
Something like "Murphy Siding Railroad- Safety is our first priority!" How would that look being repeatedly shown on the nightly news and living forever in internet memes?

It'd look really good in the lawsuit someone decided to file due to a real or alleged loss due to the derailment...  Devil

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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