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Western Railroad Discussion > Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train


Date: 06/19/08 12:45
Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: dmaffei

With the price of diesel at 5 bucks a gallon today, I was wondering what long distance merchandise is going by road these days? A tractor trailer gets 5 miles a gallon. So if your going from Portland to LA (1000 miles or so) your fuel will be $1000 dollars. I'm not a truck driver, but what is the charge for a 1000 mile trip? Is only SUPER high priority going by road?
What does UP charge for a trailer to ride the I-5 corridor?
What got me thinking about this was Fed-Ex has stopped delivering north of Redding in Ca. because it's not cost effective. The price of fuel has got to be good or even great for the railroads.
Any thoughts?
Dave



Date: 06/19/08 12:54
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: jst3751

dmaffei Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> With the price of diesel at 5 bucks a gallon
> today, I was wondering what long distance
> merchandise is going by road these days? A tractor
> trailer gets 5 miles a gallon. So if your going
> from Portland to LA (1000 miles or so) your fuel
> will be $1000 dollars. I'm not a truck driver, but
> what is the charge for a 1000 mile trip? Is only
> SUPER high priority going by road?
> What does UP charge for a trailer to ride the I-5
> corridor?
> What got me thinking about this was Fed-Ex has
> stopped delivering north of Redding in Ca. because
> it's not cost effective. The price of fuel has got
> to be good or even great for the railroads.
> Any thoughts?
> Dave

Which FedEx, National Freight, Regional Freight, Ground, Express, Custom??



Date: 06/19/08 13:01
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: rehunn

Dave mentioned Redding and we use SAIA as our contract carrier out
of our DC in Fontana and they've gone up 60% since the first of the
day. I think our lot price into Redding is about $450.00 but that
considers that they drop like eight places for us just off 99 from
Fresno north. So we're probably paying $4000 for a trailer load
(not weight dependent) for the length of California.



Date: 06/19/08 16:08
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: mirage

Can anyone comment on how truck shipping levels today compare with the past when fuel cost less? We drove Seattle to Sacramento this week and saw, it seemed to me, a lot less truck traffic than we've seen in previous years. There were no backups at inspections stations, few (or no) trucks in the brake-check areas at the top of grades, plenty of empty pull through spaces at truck stops, etc. It made driving easier, but who's carrying the freight if the rails are max-ing out and the trucks aren't carrying it?

--mirage



Date: 06/19/08 16:37
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: Harlock

It would be interesting to find out what the railroad charges for an equivalent trip.

There's a couple of factors at play here, and they are all very interesting.

As far as raw costs go...each side has a major disadvantage in comparison to the other - on the railroad's end, the railroad has to maintain all of its own trackage, whereas the national highway infrastructure is heavily subsidized. Granted, a lot of that subsidy comes out of fuel taxes, but some of it does not, and a large percentage comes from commuters in passenger cars that aren't as hard on the roads as trucks are.

What I don't know is how much federal money the railroads get as subsidies or corporate welfare. I think that some of the money for the track improvement coming to the tehachapi route in the next few years is from government funding.

The disadvantage on the trucking side is more energy expended for mile (far worse rolling resistance and economies of scale) plus a driver for each truckload, and maintenence on each rig, whereas a train has a hundred truckloads per 4 or 5 locomotives.

I would think that if it weren't for the flexibility and freedom of road travel (no last mile problem, they go everywhere) trains would ultimately beat trucks hands down due to efficiencies of scale and rolling resistance, at least for large bulk loads.



Date: 06/19/08 18:35
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: golden-spike

They hit you with the shipment cost plus the fuel surcharge per car or item. It does cost big bucks to run those hogs.



Date: 06/19/08 20:00
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: fmw

Interesting question. I'll bet many receivers of commodities like paper, chemicals, auto parts, lumber, plastic, etc., use a mixture of rail and truck to balance lower cost (rail) with far better service (truck).

If it were practicle and cheap enough, nearly all freight would go by truck (or plane), since it would get there quickly and predictably. But obviously, that is not the case.

Rail has the advantage of being a portable warehouse. You don't pay property taxes, maintenance, etc. on a string of five covered hoppers outside your plant like you would a silo, not to mention construction costs. And the cars go away when not needed.

When you think of all the intangibles, it is very difficult to say which is actually cheaper. It is more a matter of which fits the customer's needs best.



Date: 06/19/08 20:24
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: SpaceTrain

It was a fun exercise in using Excel, but here are some interesting numbers (using some major assumptions such as level grade, unit-train and all). . .

For an SD70MAc, the average fuel consumption is 192 GPH at run 8. Taking a consist of 3 SD70's, plus two DPU's in back, you get a fuel consumption of 960/GPH (5x192). Assuming that this consist runs at 60 MPH, this equates to 16 gallons-per-mile. Further assume that the consist has 100 cars, each with 118,000 lbs of tare weight and 220,000 lbs total weight per car. The total consist weight is 11,000 tons, with 5,100 being revenue generating. Using 5,100 tons, divided by 16 gallons per mile, this train gets about 318 miles per ton of revenue weight per gallon.

Now, for an average Peterbuilt, getting 5 MPG, with an average speed of 60 MPH, he uses about 12 GPH fuel, or .2 gallons-per-mile. In most states, they are limited in the total weight of the vehicle, so I am using a western state (Idaho) as an example. Total weight, including tractor, trailer, and cargo, is 80,000 lbs. Less the tare weight of the tractor and empty trailer (assuming 15,000 lbs which is probably conservative) his total is 32.5 tons revenue generating. Using the same equation, 32.5 tons of cargo divided by .2, you get 162.5 miles per ton of revenue weight per gallon.

This, BTW, is a generalization and a gross exercise in assumptions. But the numbers seem to show that trains outperform trucks by about 2-1 when it comes to miles-per-ton, on a head-to-head (grade and speed) basis.

Roger
(too much time on my hands if I did this calculation tonight)..



Date: 06/19/08 21:18
Re: Shipping Cost...Truck vs Train
Author: truxtrax

All of the discussion that proceeded this has shown the pro and con to both sides of the debate, but have ignored the obvious. The combined best sides of both come together as intermodal, but until the speed vs. service angle is resolved (by both industries) it's not the be-all end-all that most shippers had hoped it would be. I still think as time and technology come closer to a solution to the major problems intermodal will dominate by utilizing the best of both rail and truck.

Butch,,,,,here we go



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