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Western Railroad Discussion > BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??


Date: 01/02/12 16:40
BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: underscore

does the bnsf hate the mrl? is so why. was reading on another website the bnsf is thinking of buying out the lease of the mrl be cause they are choaking the bnsf. and bnsf has felt this weay for years??



Date: 01/02/12 17:22
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: fbe

First of all, BNSF can't afford to buy back the MRL in an economic sense. The rumors reappear regularly, though.

The MRL does not strangle the BNSF. They commonly provide better on time performance than BNSF does with their own trains. MRL sidings can also provide off line staging areas to hold trains for a little flexibility when Pasco is plugged, coastal ports are overwhelmed or BNSF terminals are short of rested crews.

The buy back rumors are just sour grapes from employees who got screwed by their management and managers who realize some of their predecessors weren't as smart as they told everyone they were.

The contract lease runs for another 36 years, by the time the BNSF can afford to buy back the future revenue stream we will all have grey hair.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/02/12 17:53
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: underscore

in the mrl lease are they guranteed any minimum number of cars each year?



Date: 01/02/12 18:28
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: fbe

The original level of traffic at the time of the lease is set. That was 1987, not booming times in the industry nor the country.

Posted from Android



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/12 18:39 by fbe.



Date: 01/02/12 18:31
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: BNSF6400

fbe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The original level of traffic at the time of the
> lease is set. That was 1979, not booming times in
> the industry nor the country.
>
> Posted from Android

Are you staying the minimum overhead traffic on MRL is based on 1979 traffic levels? From your description its seems to imply the lease was signed in 1979...Montana Rail Link started in 1987.



Date: 01/02/12 18:38
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: fbe

Correct, my oops, will correct the date. Thanks.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/02/12 18:40
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: jc76

I read the discussion. It seems some believe the car per year agreement was 25 years, while the track lease was longer. First I have ever heard of this, any truth to it?

Posted from Android



Date: 01/02/12 18:50
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: fbe

The minimum volume is set, the rates are renegotiated. Few people get access to the entire contract so there are lots of rumors and misconceptions which are impossible to dispel.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/02/12 19:13
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: mtnwestrail

jc76 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I read the discussion.

JC, have a link for the rest of us to better understand the context?

Paul Birkholz
Sheridan, WY
Mountain West Rail



Date: 01/02/12 20:37
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: jc76

Link
http://www.yardlimits.com/

You will then have to register and click on BNSF inside the community section.



Date: 01/02/12 21:31
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: GN599

fbe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> First of all, BNSF can't afford to buy back the
> MRL in an economic sense. The rumors reappear
> regularly, though.
>
> The MRL does not strangle the BNSF. They commonly
> provide better on time performance than BNSF does
> with their own trains. MRL sidings can also
> provide off line staging areas to hold trains for
> a little flexibility when Pasco is plugged,
> coastal ports are overwhelmed or BNSF terminals
> are short of rested crews.
>
> The buy back rumors are just sour grapes from
> employees who got screwed by their management and
> managers who realize some of their predecessors
> weren't as smart as they told everyone they were.
>
> The contract lease runs for another 36 years, by
> the time the BNSF can afford to buy back the
> future revenue stream we will all have grey hair.
>
> Posted from Android

You said it all right there. Another thing that younger/newer railfans and employees alike need to remember is that the BN was on a real roll out here when they spun that off. Traffic levels were still somewhat dismal compared to todays. Lots of rails who hired out in 1978-1980 were still laid off during this time. The management figured it was redundant and simply didnt feel the need to maintain "duplicate" trackage. This was also during the era when they-

1. Sold the "Stampede Pass" line
2. Mothballed and eventually abandoned the former SP&S between Pasco and Spokane. (d'oh!)
3. Spun off the MRL
4. Repaired and repainted many significant buildings only to knock them down within the year. The
original yard office at Vancouver WA, Klamath Falls and Wishram engine houses come to mind.
5. Closed and demolished the Vancouver WA diesel shop.

I am sure there are more that people can chime in but I think their biggest blunder was the abandonment of the SP&S r.o.w. but I digress. Every so often there are rumors about the MRL. Some are entertaining some just idiotic. Old heads used to blame the Frisco management that took over operations but I dont really know how much Frisco management did take over after that merger or what if any impact they may have had. Some like to blame the MRL or around here the P&W for "taking their jobs". I find that pretty ignorant considering the BN/BNSF was the one who gave them away.



Date: 01/02/12 21:42
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: rob_l

fbe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The contract lease runs for another 36 years, by
> the time the BNSF can afford to buy back the
> future revenue stream we will all have grey hair.
>

Those of us around long enough to know the MRL history ALREADY have grey hair. We will be dead by that time.

Best regards,

Rob L.



Date: 01/03/12 06:28
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: Railfool03

rob_l Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Those of us around long enough to know the MRL
> history ALREADY have grey hair. We will be dead by
> that time.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Rob L.

Geez, Rob, as a guy that was a young trainmaster in Yardley Tower on Day 1 of transfer, you make me feel old. Oh, yeah, I am.

As to the other decisions that BN made during that era, you can thank W. Thompson from the Frisco for a lot of that. After the merger in 1980, he started the "slash and burn" management style that doomed a lot of the "redundant" railroad in the mid to late 80's, particularly in the PNW. Rumors were when he took inspection trips, he would see a siding or yard that didn't look used enough for his liking and order it removed. If he came back in 6 months and it was still there, management of the territory didn't need to show up the next day. Didn't matter if it was off season (like his decision to remove most of Wishram Yard, which was a grain staging terminal for the PNW elevators and just happened to be in off season when WT came by) - if he thought it should go, it did.

He brought in a lot of managers with the same mindset (surprise, surprise, surprise), including the ones that spun off the MRL. And the former GN/NP managers working at that time quickly figured out if they wanted to survive, they too would start slashing and burning. Stampede and the SPS were both done by an ex-NP officer that was VP of the PNW region at the time. He went on to be VP of the Northern region in the 1988 re-org (his reward for slashing and burning) and eventually was a powerful VP in Ft. Worth in the 1991 move. He had the support of the former Frisco management throughout and never failed to disappoint.

Funny thing about those decisions - time proved them all to be wrong. And it wasn't because nobody anticipated the growth that ultimately led to expanding Hauser (inspection/fuel/other train staging), Pasco (new grain staging yard) and lots of double track on the Pasco - Spokane - San Point route. I made all those recommendations in 1988 - 1990 as a manager of Ops Analysis in St. Paul based on grain, manifest and IM traffic growth projections and the way the industry was changing. Typical inertia led to another study in 1993/1994, when Gerry Grinstein approved them and they were constructed in the 1995 - 1996 time frame. BTW, I recommended reopening the SPS between Spokane and Kahlotus and then building new railway from Kahlotus to Connell to eliminate the Snake River canyon portion of the route, with a back up position of upgrading the former NP. The former NP VP who received the recommendations ultimately went with upgrading the NP.

As to the MRL, it was actually more of a labor move than a capacity issue. BN wanted badly to break the crew consist agreement once the caboose laws started to fall. Ironic that Montana was one of the last states that required cabeese! Anyway, the main reason for the MRL spin off was MRL could operate with 2 man crews on through freights. BN believed those "savings" would be passed on so they went forward with the agreement. BN always knew that the route would be significant to their system - it was by far the most direct route for Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and SE traffic to/from the PNW and they never thought it would dry up and die. Just it would be cheaper to allow a third party to operate it. Problem was, the guy who negotiated the contract for BN really didn't understand operations and gave MRL terms that should never have been included. But that's ancient history now and BNSF and the MRL co-exist peacefully - sort of like North and South Korea!



Date: 01/03/12 07:48
If a buy-out happens...
Author: jc76

While this is almost certainly just another rumor, lets "pretend" for a minute that a buyout occurs.... What kind of operational changes do you think we would see? Elimination of the Heavies on the NP? DPUs eliminating helpers at Livingston and Bozeman? Directional running using the a "UPGRADED" Great Falls Line. Not sure how crew balance issues are solved on other BN Directional Corridors, I believe most directional running is on routes closer together, there may be exceptions?

It would be a sad day for employees, fans and foamers.....



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/12 08:29 by jc76.



Date: 01/03/12 12:44
Re: BNSF/MRL love hate relation ship??
Author: gman1

great post! threads like this are the reason I continue to subscribe to trainorders!



Date: 01/04/12 08:13
Re: If a buy-out happens...
Author: fbe

jc76 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> While this is almost certainly just another rumor,
> lets "pretend" for a minute that a buyout
> occurs.... What kind of operational changes do you
> think we would see? Elimination of the Heavies on
> the NP? DPUs eliminating helpers at Livingston
> and Bozeman? Directional running using the a
> "UPGRADED" Great Falls Line. Not sure how crew
> balance issues are solved on other BN Directional
> Corridors, I believe most directional running is
> on routes closer together, there may be
> exceptions?
>
> It would be a sad day for employees, fans and
> foamers.....

The original plan for the BN merger was in the Wyer report. It laid out a plan to route all the through traffic north from Mossmain just east of Laurel and end service on the NP west of Trout Creek, MT. What became the MRL would just be a long branchline with two helper grades. So the BNSF might opt to go with the original plan though I would doubt that.

There is still the issue of soft right of way north of Great Falls which somewhat limits the heavy traffic going that way. BNSF has been spending some money improving the line for expected coal export traffic so that problem might reach solution. The Flathead Tunnel still limits the number of trains which can run over the former GN mainline.

I would hate to speculate about what the future managers of the BNSF would do if they regained operational control of the MRL trackage.



Date: 01/04/12 13:36
Re: If a buy-out happens...
Author: jc76

Lets hope it doesn't happen until the end of the lease as currently written...



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