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Date: 05/14/10 14:08
BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: cdub

I guess one of the first things Buffett said after he bought the BNSF (or maybe it was during his evaulation of the BNSF purchase) was why BNSF was paying the MRL to haul its trains. It seems that BNSF's desire to detach itself from its relationship with MRL is heating up again. But how would this happen? Could BNSF purchase MRL outwright, or somehow negotiate out of the 75 year lease of its tracks to the MRL? Maybe the BNSF will finally put its mind toward rebuilding the Sweet Grass Sub between Billings and Shelby and move the traffic off the MRL and up to the Hi-Line.

From what I understand, MRL has been underperforming in its handling of BNSF trains.



Date: 05/14/10 14:14
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: SD45X

But, they have a contract, Sante Fe was taken to court once before over it if I remember right. MRL won.



Date: 05/14/10 14:15
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: jc76

With rail traffic on the northern GN route picking up slightly has any traffic returned to the MRL? For example; any of the Robert's Bank Coal trains from Signal Peak or Spring Creek mines?

It would be sad to see a BNSF purchase occur, and then a railbank of the Northern Pacific across Montana... Yikes!



Date: 05/14/10 14:21
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: fbe

There is less than 40 years to go on the BNSF / MRL contract. The income stream to D. R. Washington makes this an expensive property for the BNSF to buy out.

Actually, BNSF trains perform better while on the MRL than when on the home road. MRL bends over backwards to meet ever changing BNSF plans.

This rumor surfaces on a regular basis. BNSF signed the contract, they should know they will have to live with it. I am pretty sure they are unhappy with some of the labor contracts they have signed as well as the coal contracts they work under. I have not heard Buffett has fired Bressler and Gaskins who are the fathers of the MRL lease.



Date: 05/14/10 14:21
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: cdub

jc76 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> With rail traffic on the northern GN route picking
> up slightly has any traffic returned to the MRL?
> For example; any of the Robert's Bank Coal trains
> from Signal Peak or Spring Creek mines?
>
> It would be sad to see a BNSF purchase occur, and
> then a railbank of the Northern Pacific across
> Montana... Yikes!

If BNSF somehow bought out the MRL, I don't think you would ever see the ex-NP railbanked like it was for many years over Stampeded Pass. Demand for PRB coal from China and the far east will still make it a crucial route.



Date: 05/14/10 14:30
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: NYC6001

I am sure the State of Montana would hate to see any semblance of competition gone.



Date: 05/14/10 14:32
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: ProAmtrak

This is gettin' interesting, seems MRL is a great railraod too!



Date: 05/14/10 14:38
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: TCnR

Any Milwaukee RR right of way across Montana rumors?



Date: 05/14/10 14:48
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: fbe

TCnR Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Any Milwaukee RR right of way across Montana
> rumors?

The City of Missoula is trying to work with the land owner who has the steel bridge across the Clark Fork River to gain access to extend the hiking trail from Reserve St out to the Grass Valley / Primrose area. The USFS is working to extend the Hiawatha Trail bike path from the top of St Paul pass eastward towards St Regis. These plans have both been reported in newspapers of the area.



Date: 05/14/10 15:02
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: jc76

It is doubtful the >BNSF will buy out MRL. However, BNSF did prove they can handle all MRLs traffic during a recession last year during the tunnel fiasco. So during times like these about the only traffic you might see flowing over the grades of the MRl might be baretables and local traffic. Also we dont know the cost differance of running a coal or grain load over aGN vs NP routing. The railbank statement would be a extreme that most likely wouldnt happen



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/14/10 15:04 by jc76.



Date: 05/14/10 15:19
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: fbe

The blueprint for the consolidation of the NP - GN - CB&Q - SP&S Great Northern Pacific merger (BN) was the Wyer report. This spelled out which lines would be consolidated after the merger which happened in 1970. The NP mainline west of Laurel was pretty much held in low value other than as a long branch line. Upgrades and operation to route traffic from Mossmain to Shelby to reach the GN mainlines did not go as easily as anticipated.

Forty years later it is hard to predict how much of the Wyer Report would be applicable. Certainly traffic out of the PNW prior to the last housing bust shows there may not really be a surplus of mainline routes out of the PNW as there was perceived to be about 5 years ago. The desire of Matt Rose to regain control of the old NP mainlines may be as much personal as economic. If I remember the BN/CN merger derailed largely because relatively young presidents / vice presidents on both lines were unwilling to sit second fiddle for a long time. The economics might have been sound but the egos were not. Never under estimate the power of personalities to trump the pull of the bottom line. One would think the Board of Directors would step in to protect the share holders but that does not seem to happen much any more.



Date: 05/14/10 16:24
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: mapboy

is there a minimum annual number of carloads required to be sent by BNSF over MRL?

mapboy



Date: 05/14/10 17:12
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: bcr4601

I understand there's a car count that has to be maintained on the MRL from the BNSF but until confirmd who knows.Coal to Roberts Bank can go from the mines to the Port quicker and with less HPT up the Sweet Grass and over the Hi- Line

Dale Miller
Langley, BC



Date: 05/14/10 17:25
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: rehunn

Toss in the UP line and the line to Butte and you ALMOST have enough for a small regional. I would
think that if the MRL thing ever happened that the rationalization of what was left might be interesting.
BNSF would divest the Butte line for sure and the rationale for the UP to keep running up to the
interchange would be sketchy at best. But, a sharp operator with what remains in Butte plus the
Dillon area, the Continental grain facility and the local business might be able to make a go of it.
Who knows, all that might happen anyway.



Date: 05/14/10 18:39
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: steeplecab

> BNSF would divest the Butte line for sure and the rationale for the UP to keep running up to the
> interchange would be sketchy at best.

BNSF can't divest themselves of the Butte line. They don't own it. They merely lease it from UP. UP owns the line all the way to Garrison. Which would give UP all the business in Butte. And unless BNSF wants to hold onto the line over Homestake Pass, which would then be a dead end line, it would give the UP a foothold farther into southeast Montana. There's a lot of grain that could be trucked to a loading facility someplace farther east than Butte. Which might hurt BNSF's monopoly on grain in Montana.



Date: 05/14/10 21:04
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: Alco251

How would Denny keep N166WC flying without BNSF? Perish the thought!



Date: 05/14/10 21:08
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: mtnwestrail

Alco251 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How would Denny keep N166WC flying without BNSF?


What, no cheesy photo with you and the aircraft to share?

Paul Birkholz
Sheridan, WY
Mountain West Rail



Date: 05/14/10 21:33
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: MrMRL

Alco251 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How would Denny keep N166WC flying without BNSF?
> Perish the thought!


The one parked in here?

Mr. MRL




Date: 05/14/10 23:16
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: jc76

Just curious where this most recent rumor was heard? While I do not doubt this was discussed at some point, I am curious if this is hear say or if it was a quoted Warren Buffet statement?


Also, I can't imagine that a Whitefish routing for coal is quicker than a MRL routing. Both routes have grades and the Whitefish routing has an extra crew change and extra milage. If anything I would imagine running time is about the same. However, the HPT difference is large. Perhaps, some MRL or BNSF employees in the area, and on this forum may know running time differences between the routes better.

On the hypothetical what if the BNSF bought out MRL scenario, a coal/grain train that was DPU'ed w/o manned helpers could be routed via the NP in montana and then head over Stampede or Stevens w/o changing power or the extra crews. I imagine the northern route would still burn less fuel but how much only the bean counters know. On the Southern Transcon grain loads are often sent thru NM and Arizona already powered for the Tehachapi climb out of Mojave. So who knows how the BNSF would handle ownership of the MRL. Maybe even some sort of directional running would be instituted.

JC76



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/14/10 23:21 by jc76.



Date: 05/15/10 01:39
Re: BNSF's Discontent With MRL
Author: monaddave

Mister Robbie asks...
<<The one parked in here? >>

DRW's new BBJ doesn't fit in that hanger.
Dave in Msla



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