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Date: 12/01/19 15:24
PSR - Define it
Author: LarryDoyle

OK, What exactly is PSR?  Yeah, I know, "Precision Scheduled Railroading".  But, what distinguishes a PSR train?  Should I be able to recognize it when it goes by my back door?

My perception is that it has to do with getting a train, or more specifically a car or block of cars, from point A to point B within a specific time frame.

I'm a 20th Century fossil.  We made trains run ON TIME. If the Hiawatha, Zephyr, 20th Century, Broadway Limited, El Capitan (the list goes on) was one minute late someones feet got held to the fire.  IT CAN BE DONE.  Why not with freight today?

Does todays management think they've re-invented the wheel?

-LD


 



Date: 12/01/19 15:28
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: dcfbalcoS1

      Please put an 18,000 ton freight on a schedule and see how many hours it is late on those times in the first 6 hours alone. And it gets worse every hour after that. 18,000 ton trains are not the passenger train operation of 50 years ago.          Give them 15 minutes to think about it and they will add another 10,000 ton block to that same train. With enough power maybe 30 to 35 mph.

 



Date: 12/01/19 15:28
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: callum_out

If it looks like a model railroaders dream train it complies with PSR.

Out



Date: 12/01/19 15:42
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: LarryDoyle

dcfbalcoS1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>       Please put an 18,000 ton freight on a
> schedule and see how many hours it is late on
> those times in the first 6 hours alone. And it
> gets worse every hour after that. 18,000 ton
> trains are not the passenger train operation of 50
> years ago.          Give them 15 minutes to
> think about it and they will add another 10,000
> ton block to that same train. With enough power
> maybe 30 to 35 mph.
>
That's clearly one of the problems, which I understand.  But What Is it?  What makes a train a PSR?  What are the expectations, realized or unrealized, of a PSR train?  Can PSR and non-PSR trains co-exist on the same infrastructure?

-LD

-LD



Date: 12/01/19 16:09
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: tomstp

I'll probably screw this up but, here's a shot:  PSR is not a train.  It is several trains that supposedly are scheduled at a certain time to run a certain route and haul absolutely as much tonnage as it can and during its run some managers may put even more tonnage on it.  While it is scheduled to leave at a certain time and say it does, there (in my opinion) is little chance it will arrive at its appointed time at its scheduled termination point.  It is also a system where small shippers are usually ignored..

OK, now all yall can laugh.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/19 16:12 by tomstp.



Date: 12/01/19 16:26
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: NYC6001

I am just a rank and file employee, but I will take a stab at explaining PSR, even though I'm mostly agin' it.

A 100 car coal train that runs from a mine in Illinois to a power plant in New York every day, using 5 train sets is not PSR. It's just a unit train. Now put on a block of manifest freight for Buffalo when it goes by Indianapolis, and set it off at Cleveland where a different manifest freight picks it up. That is the idea. You avoid humping it and get it closer to New York, it can be sorted less times.

A train might operate from Cleveland to Indy carrying a block of pipe for Texas everyday. The pipe used to move in an 105-car unit train once per week. Now smaller, 15 car blocks of pipe go out every day. The gons are always moving, rather than sitting for a few days at the plant until the train is built, and you don't get caught short of crews and locos.

By adding DPUs, you hope minimize in-train forces and can run one 15,000 foot train, instead of two 7500 footers, using 3 locos vs. 4, and just one crew.

Hiring slows down, in theory, because of less train starts. Surplus engines are stored and sold, management is reduced. Discipline on union members becomes rather harsh in some cases, which reduces headcount without furloughs. (Just sayin.) Yardmaster and dispatcher desks are combined, resulting in cutbacks in those crafts.

Not all trains will be PSR style trains. Locals and transfer jobs are still needed, but road manifests begin doing more of the transfer work between yards.

So, if you observe a train with say, a block of intermodal, then a block of manifest freight, then a DPU engine follwed by 50 auto racks, that is a PSR train. It combines jobs that were often kept separate.

Last and most importantly, many tariffs and fees are raised, to the max point of what the market will bear, because the loss of some existing traffic is inevitable. Therefore, what remains must generate max revenue.

Summing it up, PSR means higher prices for customers, less employees, and smaller facilities operating flat out, resulting in a lower Operating Ratio and way higher stock prices.

Visually, you might see longer trains that carry a mix of intermodal, bulk, manifest and automotive traffic, all in the same train with DPU power. These trains swap blocks more often on the road instead of going from yard to yard to be completely broken down and reassembled.

NOTE: These are just observations, not my opinions on whether PSR is worth a nickel.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/19 16:30 by NYC6001.



Date: 12/01/19 16:29
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: callum_out

Maximum tonnage, minimal crews, a wish list schedule, low dwell times by keeping tonnage moving-somewhere, in
other words all the makings of a digital strategy game. Every one of these continuing brain storms strives to clean room
operate a railroad that's working in a real world environment, true long term definition and proof of insanity.

Out



Date: 12/01/19 16:30
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: Zephyr

I don't believe you can limit the philosophy and strategy of PSR to a given train.  It's all about reducing car dwell time on the given railroad.  No multiple hump stops for a car = less dwell time at terminals.  Longer trains from origin to multiple destination blocks = less dwell time at terminals.  Longer trains = less train starts = less employess = cost savings = increased operating efficiency and happy shareholders.  Any and all trains are PSR trains if they are handling railcars, thus the demise of solid intermodal trains and solid automobile trains.  If there are cars available to move from an intermediate station (say Green River for example on the UPRR) to Stockton for example and an intermodal train is going to Lathrop (very near Stockton), then the cars will be picked up by the intermodal train.  So far it seems unit grain and coal trains have kept their identities as solid unit trains, although there have been occasions where these empty unit trains have been observed handling manifest type volume.  Some obvious "stand out" PSR trains on the UPRR are double stack trains carrying manifest cars or automobile trains carrying mannifest cars.  We notice these because in prior times these types of trains didn't handle manifest blocks.

Enjoy the PSR variety of trains!

Pete
Clio, California



Date: 12/01/19 16:32
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: jauberg82

.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/19 08:35 by jauberg82.



Date: 12/01/19 16:36
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: goneon66

how about do NOT attempt to take away any business from the trucking industry (due to increased expenditures in capacity and crews) because it might mean a temporary decrease in the stock price...........

66



Date: 12/01/19 16:43
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: fbe

PSR is management's way for a new set of investors to "harvest value" from the company in this case a railroad. The thought is lower costs account fewer trains hence fewer locomotives, yards leading to fewer employees. This means more income goes to the investors instead of the infrastructure.

All works well until all the low hanging fruit is picked and investor returns come lower than the good times. That leads to more cost cutting and lower customer and investor satisfaction.

As the saying goes, the beatings will continue until everyone is happy.



Date: 12/01/19 17:14
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: portlander

Simply put;

It's an operating plan that focuses on car velocity instead of train velocity. Mostly accomplished by reducing terminal dwell and extra handling.

How far can "we" push a car into the system before it's touched again.



Date: 12/01/19 17:24
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: Dick

PSR is a way of running train, not a train.  When you close many hump yards you have fewer classifications. Yes some cars likely have their schedules speeded up.  All of them - doubtful.  There are fewer blocks in each train.  When cars get set out at an intermediate terminal they still have to be classified and put on a local for delivery, unless the local traffic has been chased away..  With fewer blocks there will be more circuity and more cars having to backtrack to their destination.  I heard the argument at a meeting that fewer trains would mean faster schedules and more precision due to fewer meets and overtakes.  In extreme cases this is true even even though some trains are non-clearing in most sidings.  When asked for an example i was given CP.  However this is an extreme case.  East of Winnipeg their train count on peak days has gone from around 35 a day to nine in the past 35 years. East of Thunder Bay their count has gone from around 20 to 22 on peak days to 8 or 9 in 24 hours.  CP has tightened their schedules and from what little i have seen does a decent job of meeting them.  PSR on most roads has also meant lower horsepower to tonnage ratios as mentioned earlier.  That is likely where the excess power comes from.  Does going from around 65 to 50 trains in 24 hours on NS's Chicago Line with lower horsepower to tonnage ratios give scheduled railroading.  From what i saw when i spent 37 hours videotaping that line, the answer was no.  I had intermodal schedules and NS was not doing a great job of keeping their hotter trains on time.  A 180 car, 13000 foot, 18000 ton train is going to have a similar number of delays as two 9000 ton trains would have as mentioned earlier. Another part of PSR is not having excess power and crews.  Are these railroads going to recover from service interruptions quickly.  I doubt it.   Few single track lines have 13000 foot sidings to handle these trains efficiently.  Better car scheduling and incentives (charges) to get customers to release cars quicker to reduce cars on line does make sense.  To me the P and S in PSR do not mean precision and scheduled except in rare cases.  PSR is mostly about reducing train starts and yard switching hours to bring more profit to the bottom line.  Period. 
Dick Eisfeller



Date: 12/01/19 17:49
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: dcfbalcoS1

      PSR also means having a 12,000 ft trainout there with 9000 ft sidings and they are roaring along at 35 mph with minimal horse power per ton. Something goes down the toilet and they are forced to stop. Conductor starts walking back over 2 miles checking 'everything' and then he has to walk back to the head end. Five miles of excersize while a stack train comes up behind them and stops at the red signal. Behind the stack is a grain train that is stopped two miles behind the stack's last car. And wait..........and wait.......... and wait some more. NOBODY is going to get around the 12,000 ft train until the next terminal, maybe. Therefore the stack train is also going to move at 35 mph, following the manifest's yellow signals. Troubles continue with the manifest of course. Everybody drags along. The grain train is also moping along at 35 mph or less on yellows.
      Opposing trains trains? Easy, the crews died on the law because three trains they are to meet just lost a total of 4 1/2 hours. Recrew them. Better call a van for the grain train as they will never make it to the terminal either. Don't worry, let it set out there somewhere until you can get your *&$(&#* together and drag it in. Stock prices may be going up because you are gutting the sytem in every way imaginable. So ?  WHo cares?  Some people will go all in on the rising stock prices and in a couple of years they will cash out. Retirement here we come and maybe they are not quite 50 or 55 yet. Rebuilding the once  fluid railroad is somebody else's problem and who cares if it will even be worthy of it by then.
       Employees are pretty much trying to hide everywhere as they will be blamed for as much as possible. Where it might have been that operating people worked with management folks to determine what happened or better ways to do something, now their time is spent covering their posteriors for any and all events that can be thought of, They are trading CYA ideas so they have a library of 'get out of trouble' excuses or whatever. Nobody helps the higher ups because the higher ups are now really out to get (rid) of them. Wonderful when a plan comes together. And it will take decades to ever fix it - if it can be fixed. 
       Gut the system and cover yourself.
       Good idea: spend over a $million a mile and lengthen those pesky short sidings so they will hold the huge trains you are already running. Now, you can have sidings that allow you to properly run those 35 mph trains on the track that has been upgraded over the past 10 years to 70 mph or better.
       After all, nobody ever got the Enron money back, did they ?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/19 18:02 by dcfbalcoS1.



Date: 12/01/19 19:16
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: spwolfmtn

PSR does not really have anything to do with Precision and/or Scheduled railroading.  Essentially, railroads have operated with some kind of scheduling practice for decades, even more, but it's often times ineffective.  Yes, the super "hot" trains do tend to have a typical time window, but below that, it's a crap shoot.  These non-super hot trains may get out of their originating terminals on time (forced to do so), but after that, it's any one's guess what those trains' times will look like.  PSR claims to have changed this, but in reality, it's still very much like it was before (as far as schedule keeping).

What PSR really is (see Hunter Harrison, the father of PSR, to find out what the hyper-bs definition of PSR is ), but in reality, it's a massive cost cutting effort to boost profits and stock prices (with a short term focus in mind).  PSR also strives to generate more revenue by increasing rates and car penalties with customers to generate more revenue with the customers at hand.  This has been a huge sore point with customers that use carload services (ie boxcars, hopper cars, gondolas, etc), because the erratic nature of when a customer's cars are to arrive can literally be at any time, any day, who knows!  This forces customers to obtain more inventory to meet their customers demands, because they do not know when their shipments will arrive.  For example, a railroad customer might have to shut down because of lack of product, and then tomorrow, say 20 of their cars might arrive all at once (but the customers track only holds 10), so the railroad charges the customer to hold the other cars!  Here you have the railroad failing to give decent service, then charging the customer because he has to hold more inventory to stay in business.  Under PSR, marginally profitable customers are pretty much forced out - they only want the most profitable one's.

The big emphasis under this PSR is massive cost cutting.  Many people above have talked about the longer massive sized trains, etc, but it also deals with operating the railroad with the least amount of assets (and working those assets to their maximum - this usually includes their employees).  PSR propaganda says that they are operating more efficiently, and that cars are moving through the system better, more reliable, and faster - but for the most part, from all I've heard and seen, this is a huge pile of bull sh..!  Often, transit times for cars are much longer now, as the PSR railroads try to avoid using mass production hump yards as much as possible, where in recent times, those have been used to build trains that bypass yards down road, thus expediting movements.  Under PSR, and the use of many smaller, over capacity flat yards, cars tend to get switched now at more yards, then placed in huge trains, that as explained above, tend to operate quite slowly.  In the name of PSR efficiency, most of these smaller yards are very congested and delays are numerous.

Essentially, railroads had often operated like airlines for their carload traffic network, with a hub-and-spoke system; where the efficient, high capacity through put hump yard was the hub.  Then (for the most part) those hubs built trains to other hubs, bypassing the smaller yards enroute.  PSR has done away with that.  To use an airline flight as an analogy, imagine flying from New York City to LA.  Under hub and spoke, smaller flights from the northeast would gather at New York, then a flight would fly non-stop to LA, for disbursement there.  Under PSR, the flight leaving New York would stop at various cities along the way to set off passengers and pick up passengers - all of these stops being potential delays.  Any time an on time train has to go into a yard to work, there is a good chance it will be late when departing.

So essentially, PSR is (1) massive cost cutting (which results in much worse service), and (2) gouging more money from your customers.



Date: 12/01/19 19:30
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: callum_out

Having gone through all this wonderful bs over my years in the corporate world I ask, how does this fit into
best practices? Or any other of the failed great ideas of the past?

Out



Date: 12/01/19 22:39
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: TAW

dcfbalcoS1 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>       Please put an 18,000 ton freight on a
> schedule and see how many hours it is late on
> those times in the first 6 hours alone. And it
> gets worse every hour after that.

Actually, it can be done. an 18 kiloton train CAN be scheduled...if you know how to do it. However, the folks to whom you refer don't, and couldn't schedule a light engine and have it run consistently on time.

TAW



Date: 12/01/19 22:43
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: TAW

LarryDoyle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> OK, What exactly is PSR? 

Los Banos

The office (telegraph) office call for SP Los Banos CA was BS. That's what PSR is.

Hello Los Banos.

TAW



Date: 12/02/19 04:10
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: Englewood

The beauty of PSR is that it has no definition.
It is whatever you want it to be as long as it kites the stock price.
Just announce to your stockholders that you are implementing
PSR and give some shill at a trade magazine an interview.  Then do
whatever you want and call it PSR.  By the time they catch on you will
be retired to your horse farm.



Date: 12/02/19 05:45
Re: PSR - Define it
Author: Drknow

I agree with Englewood and TAW. PSR= Plan to Sucker Rubes is flavor of the week courtesy EHH and his minons. Whether the PSR gang chooses a horse farm or private island in the Caribbean to flee to when reality comes knocking, those that are left after the huge stock dump will be left holding the bag of BS and charged with the task of rebuilding the industry, if even possible by then.

Posted from iPhone



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