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Western Railroad Discussion > A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Modoc


Date: 01/11/17 03:03
A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Modoc
Author: mukinduri

Mapboy raises an interesting question in another thread about the now closed Modoc line. Are railroads trimming their network to the point where they lack flexibility to cope with a crisis?; in this case the closure of the Inside Gateway due to extreme weather.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/17 03:05 by mukinduri.



Date: 01/11/17 05:33
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: toledopatch

The railroads decided a long time ago that they can't afford to maintain duplicative trackage just on the off-chance they might need it once a year (or less) because of a derailment, weather problem, or other disruption.
 



Date: 01/11/17 06:08
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: WW

I don't think that is entirely true.  After getting burned a number of times in abandonments and sell-offs of "redundant" lines, railroads are being a bit more cautious about that than they were 20 or 30 years ago.  Unfortunately, there are abandonments made back then, e.g., the Modoc Line, that still come back to haunt the system when Mother Nature comes to bat.  Redundant lines are, no doubt, a major expense to keep around, but they are sort of like a spare tire--they're seldom needed, but, when they are, they can be sorely needed--and a can of stop-leak just won't do the job then. 



Date: 01/11/17 06:44
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: TCnR

The Modoc became a sore point when Anschutz used it to encourage Colorado to north-western Oregon traffic, basically paralleling the UPRR Columbia Gorge/Blue Mountains route. The new owners snuffed it for the same reason, it was redundant to the Blue Mountains route and they haven't had much trouble with that route.

Further into the thread another good point is made, the number of qualified crews has become an issue for the less travelled routes. Not sure how lng it takes to bring outside crews up to speed though, probably less cost than the extra routes. Another thought is that most rail traffic is not time sensitive, UPS deliveries or hot Imports are more sensitive  but are most likely east-west routings. North-South routes seem to be less travelled in the moderne world, the SLC and Denver routes seem to be adequate since they are not often needed but still staffed.

http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?1,4199672,4199772#msg-4199772



Date: 01/11/17 08:37
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: callum_out

The "loan out" crew thing works real well, you need a pilot until you're qualified which takes people from the board
you're trying to cover and by the time everyone is qualified the emergency is over!

Out



Date: 01/11/17 10:07
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: coach

Everyone gets in a tizzy about the loss of the Modoc line.  Think about it:

--UP doesn't send trains down to Roseville to then go over Donner, then on to Salt Lake.  No, they route those trains (mostly) via the Blue Mountains.  So Donner being closed doesn't change anything, because the UP wouldn't route a train via the Modoc anyways!  Those trains go via the Blue Mountains. 
--the Feather River being closed doesn't change anything with regards to the "savior" Modoc line.  Do you really think a UP train in Oroville is going to detour to Klamath Falls, then use the Modoc all the way back to the Reno area?  No--it will go via Donner or Tehachapi.
--the Modoc being closed doesn't help the BNSF.  If a southbound train on the Inside Gateway can't get through, how in the world will the Modoc help?  The train would have to go all the way to Salf Lake City (via the Modoc), then down to Barstow to get through.  That's a waste of time, money and miles.  BNSF would rather detour via Dunsmuir than do that, rejoining their own rails in Stockton.  Quicker and easier.

The Modoc was remote, barren, slow and lightly used.  It made PERFECT sense for the SP and its eastbound traffic from Oregon to Salt Lake, but that show is over.  It's gone.  It all makes sense.

I honestly don't understand why people keep bringing it up when the facts are clear?

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/17 10:09 by coach.



Date: 01/11/17 10:21
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

The Modoc Line may not be the best example where a railroad regretted afterwards that they abandoned a line.

You will note the BNSF spent a lot of money buying back the ex-NP line via Yakima from Washington Central and spending lots of money on it to re-open it over Stampede Pass.  I guess they figured it was a mistake getting rid of it in the first place.  

I would imagine that, if they had to do it over again, they would have wished they'd kept the GN route between Sandpoint and Spokane and the SP&S route between Spokane and Pasco.

CSX probably regrets getting rid of the SAL between Norlina, NC and Perterburg, VA.  

I'm sure there are other examples.   



Date: 01/11/17 10:30
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: stampedej

CA_Sou_MA_Agent Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Modoc Line may not be the best example where a
> railroad regretted afterwards that they abandoned
> a line.
>
> You will note the BNSF spent a lot of money buying
> back the ex-NP line via Yakima from Washington
> Central and spending lots of money on it to
> re-open it over Stampede Pass.  I guess they
> figured it was a mistake getting rid of it in the
> first place.  
>
> I would imagine that, if they had to do it over
> again, they would have wished they'd kept the GN
> route between Sandpoint and Spokane and the SP&S
> route between Spokane and Pasco.
>
> CSX probably regrets getting rid of the SAL
> between Norlina, NC and Perterburg, VA.  
>
> I'm sure there are other examples.   

Which is probably, in part, why Union Pacific kept BOTH the S.P. and W.P. between Salt Lake and California.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/11/17 11:00
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: jst3751

rantoul Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Those with far better knowledge than us thought
> the 1997 UP rebuild of Feather River a waste of
> money.  Wonder what the thought will be if
> Feather River floods away in 2016.
>
> http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,
> 2542690,page=1

It will never happen. 2016 is over.



Date: 01/12/17 19:50
Re: A cut too far? Railroads lack flexibility in a crisis cf. Mod
Author: Vermontanan

rantoul Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Those with far better knowledge than us thought
> the 1997 UP rebuild of Feather River a waste of
> money.  
> http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,
> 2542690,page=1

I disagree.  By 1997, the Feather River Canyon was already part of BNSF's through route between the Pacific Northwest and California (following the UP-SP merger and subsequent selling of the Keddie-Bieber portion to BNSF and granting trackage rights from Keddie to Stockton).  Currently, whenever there is some kind of blockage on the BNSF route between Klamath Falls and Stockton, UP seems unwilling or unable to accommodate all the BNSF traffic via the logical detour route via Dunsmuir.  Therefore, it's illogical to assume that UP would have granted this as permanent route for BNSF had they not rebuilt the Feather River Canyon route, which also happens to be an excellent alternative to Donner Pass when the heaviest trains are operated and/or motive power short owing to the ex-WP route's 1 percent ruling grade (far superior to Donner Pass).

It's also interesting to note that this person with "far better knowledge" thought the Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension, unlike the Feather River Canyon Route, was worth keeping as an alterate to BNSF and UP, even though the Milwaukee Road route was by far the high cost alternative.  So logic would dicate if you're a fan of alternate routes, then you should appreciate all such alternate routes, especially in the case of the current BNSF line which has more traffic than could be efficiently moved via the ex-SP route.

So, "far better knowledge" was unlikely.

--Mark Meyer



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