Slowing revenue runs

ddm502001 Jun 22, 2020

  1. ddm502001

    ddm502001 TrainBoard Member

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    On the Old MOPAC bed of the UP here. Sat at the local river park a few days ago with the wife just out enjoying the day, next to no trains passed in three hours. Went to Jefferson City and noted there as well the yard area was nearly empty, a passing freight and a passing coal bucket but only two trains in two hours as we wandered above on the bluffs. Still few venues open with the Covid 19 stuff.

    The AMTRAK River Runner is down to a single run per day from two. MAY get back to two runs if ridership does increase. Saw it yesterday discharging/picking passengers on our station stop, actually had quite a few of both, likely a dozen of both.
     
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Things remain in quite a mess, with earnings and carloadings getting hammered. Cost control via any means is being worked to the extreme. NS just shut down their hump (not the yard, but the hump) in Bellevue, OH, reported to be the largest hump yard east of the Mississippi River. NS has changed up the origin/destination points on trains in my area and I can barely figure it all out. The restarting of auto plants should help things. NS runs an entire train daily each way between the BMW plant near Spartanburg, SC and the Port of Charleston, SC.

    Amtrak has just announced that the Silver Star and Silver Meteor will no longer run daily, but will share trainsets on their routes to save money. The Star will run Fri/Sat/Sun and the Meteor on the other days.
     
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  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    BNSF and MRL have slowed here. BNSF running some of their mega trains has reduced frequencies. Amtrak cutting the Builder coming into high tourism season is utter stupidity. Oh well.
     
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  4. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

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    Oh boy. Odd news. I live in Leeds, Alabama. I hear trains at any time most of the time. It does seem a little less maybe, maybe not? I think Amtrak is a Federal organization. I have a biased opinion that the Federal Gov't specializes in stupidity. This may explain some of the decisions. :confused:
     
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  5. ddm502001

    ddm502001 TrainBoard Member

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    GM is still firing up the Wentzville plant, starting slow, N&S has that carload facility. UP is predominantly Coal and Grain hauls thru here, see a few common mix freights and a few Autoracks but slim recently. The Coal buckets slowing threw me off, still using electricity, still running the major plants to make it here so demand here is not down. The River Runner will likely be back to two scheduled per day in a few weeks according to the local rags, just limited for the time being due to Covid 19.
     
  6. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    The Sunset Route is returning to a Southern Pacific style of railroading...more locos, longer trains, slower speeds
     
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  7. Philip H

    Philip H TrainBoard Member

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    CSX is still blasting 10-12 trains a day across the L&N line that is now the NO&M sub. They seem about as big as every with the normal variety of rolling stock types.
     
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  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It is a government owned corporation. Run by politicians, bureaucrats and bean counters. Almost every time they have brought in an outside railroad experienced (private sector) leader, they have essentially handcuffed that person and nothing business-like gets accomplished. So, same old, same old...
     
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  9. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Former NS CEO Wick Moorman is an example of that. He joined SOU in 1975, left to earn an MBA, returned in 1989, rose through the ranks and eventually served as Chairman, President and CEO of NS for many years with excellence, including his enthusiastic support for NS's Heritage Units.

    Upon retirement from NS, he took Amtrak's top post where he stayed for 15 Months and quit. I can only imagine the whackadoodle environment he found himself in at Amtrak.
     
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  10. rch

    rch TrainBoard Member

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    There are signs of life on the railroad here in north Texas. Is it a perfect storm of a lot of trains showing up at once or are the volumes actually increasing? I don't know. I do know that there are more cars in our yards now than in several months (pre-COVID). Vehicle trains are apparently beginning to rebound and the manifest trains are routinely up to triple digits by car count again. I'm seeing faces of folks who were furloughed over the past several months so that's a good thing.
     
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  11. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Please include Gunn, Claytor, etc. who, seduced from retirements after outstanding railroading careers, became so frustrated by ignorant and arrogant politicians who, unfortunately, also were their "bosses", that they resigned in frustration. I give credit to Wm. Claytor, Jr., who lasted the longest of any AMTRAK CEO, only because he and his brother, Robert, were the most brilliant railroad CEOs of modern times. He knew, given enough wiggle room and time, he could make AMTRAK a viable railroad business. Sadly, our career politicians can't handle success. If a program is successful, they might be out of a job. Does this bring Term Limits to mind??????

    This is solely my opinion, and any/all Admins have my permission to delete it if they wish. But the more our liberal Government gets involved with our daily lives, the more "Fouled" up our country becomes.
     
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  12. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    All very well stated Hytec. (y)
     
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  13. Dave1905

    Dave1905 TrainBoard Member

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    Don't really think so.

    Back in the early 2000's I read a article in Railway Age where the author said that passenger service could really never pay for itself since the amenities that passengers require and the low density of occupancy would never raise enough money to cover the costs.

    What I found interesting was that the article was in the "100 years ago" column and had actually been written in the early 1900's. If a railroad executive in 1900 couldn't figure out a way to make passenger service profitable when they were virtually the only game in town, then a railroad today doesn't stand a chance.

    I don't think there is any way that a passenger only railroad could ever raise enough money from fares alone to pay for track, equipment, fuel and people to profitably operate. The ONLY way a passenger operation can operate is if its subsidized, either with money from the government or by operating freight and using the freight revenue to subsidize the passenger operation.
     
  14. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, hit nail on head. Our nation is being beset by "Colonialism". Massive poor and very few wealthy. I am hoping for a "reversal".
     
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  15. gmorider

    gmorider TrainBoard Member

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    Very thoughtful insights. I wonder what the balance sheet looked like back in the day when regular passenger trains ran. I do think they were funded by the roads freight revenue. But by how much? I get the impression that a well run RR had to divert freight revenue as a lesser percentage. For example, the "Super Chief" may have been relatively profitable needing little assistance from freight revenue. Just wondering.
     
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  16. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    You're right. Some roads didn't join Amtrak, and others really didn't want to. Either they weren't losing that much, or like the UP and their steam excursions, they considered their streamliners good advertising. The Santa Fe and the SCL were cut very nice deals to entice them to join. Both came within inches of saying no.

    The Interstate Commerce Commission forced railroads to run trains that Americans didn't care about. If it weren't for the money drain forced on roads by the ICC, we'd still have long distance trains run by private enterprise to this day. And I can't even imagine how nice they'd be by now.

    By the way, the ICC--the federal government--considered several schedules "vital necessities" which Amtrak--also the Federal Government--dropped like hot rocks.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    :cry::cry::cry:
     
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  18. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Railroad costing remains a squirrely science til this day. How shall we account for right-of-right of way, signal maintenance and yard operations? Should the cost be assessed based on train weight, frequency, number of cars or none of these? Should the cost of equipment be apportioned to each move and what about depreciation of assets? Where shall the cost of office personnel be placed? Should that expensive capital project be delayed to reduce expenses this year?

    I've read that Amtrak's costing is notoriously suspect. It's not a public company, so they're able to dial in or omit inconvenient data as they wish.
     
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  19. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Class-1 rail companies wrote off passenger losses to advertising and marketing. Those companies ran first class passenger trains to court corporate execs and managers, demonstrating on-time performance reflecting the company's freight service. It also didn't hurt that the Postal Service used railroads until 1967. When postal service contracts were cancelled and went to trucks, and business travel went to air, railroads couldn't write off passenger train losses any more. SOU and D&RG held out as long as they could. But even Wm. Graham Claytor, Jr. gave up and SOU joined Amtrak in 1978, the last of the proud and successful railroad corporations.

    Sadly, Claytor's major reason for giving in to Amtrak was that they would not negotiate and agree to connecting service. Amtrak's position was My Way, Or The Highway. And we all know how that has worked out. :mad:

    Until we, American citizens, have elected Representatives and Senators who respect and support passenger rail transportation, we will have what we are begrudgingly given. Face it my friends, we soon will have nothing but airlines and highways, and nostalgic tourist trains that don't go anywhere.

    I step off the soapbox.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  20. rch

    rch TrainBoard Member

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    How many here actually use Amtrak? How about light or commuter rail?

    The last time I used Amtrak was probably 20 years ago when I couldn't make the flight from Minot to Minneapolis so I took the Empire Builder to St. Paul and flew the rest of the way home. Other than that, I've deadheaded on Amtrak a few times. None of the trips I want to make are any better if I take the train compared to driving or flying. And I'm saying that as a railfan who actually wants to use it, but it just doesn't make sense.

    Commuter rail is the total opposite. I use it to get around Dallas-Fort Worth for entertainment frequently. It's just too easy not to use it. When we had sporting events it was the only way to go because it drops you off right in front of the arena. I don't worry about having a drink downtown and getting pulled over later because I live near the station and I can walk. If I fly again I'll take the train to the airport so I don't have to fool with parking or driving home.
     
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