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Eastern Railroad Discussion > PSR versus Regulation


Date: 12/05/18 20:04
PSR versus Regulation
Author: MC6853

So when did rail customers have it better, back in the 1970s when railroads were nearly (or actually) bankrupt thanks to regulations, or now when regulation is gone and the stockholders are the absolute #1 priority? Is it fair to say that the Precision Railroading concept as a whole is a direct result of rail deregulation, and that it may now have gone too far the other way? I'm still hearing comments suggesting that freight traffic will nearly double in the next 50 years or so, but how is this possible when all the railroads ever do is cut, retract, and scare customers away? Is it also possible that if freight service in general keeps getting cut a little too close to the bone, like what happened at CP and CSX, that some form of regulation might be reintroduced? Regulations, as I understand it, were put in place way back when specifically to protect shippers, and the way things are lately, it doesn't seem like RRs are putting their customers very high on their list of priorities...

Idle curiosities from a dumb foamer...

EDIT: After posting this I noticed a very similar topic just below... Guess I'll read the board more fully next time...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/05/18 20:08 by MC6853.



Date: 12/06/18 06:36
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: NYSWSD70M

Freight traffic may very well double. However the question is will it be the type of traffic that can be handled by rail. This is either using the existing methodology or some future state, that has yet to be identified.

Also, I think the question differs from the previous thread.

Posted from Android



Date: 12/06/18 07:10
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: Lackawanna484

I've long felt that having many railroads competing for business is better than a few railroads sitting with near monopoly control over their "markets".  As in the 1960s and 1970s.

When you have to compete, the customer can get a better deal.

(My grandfather used to hustle freight (his words) for the Wabash Railroad.  Out of New York City, so he was looking for the middle or end part of many long hauls. They didn't have to ship Wabash, it was a choice. 

It was up to Wabash people to make it the right choice...)



Date: 12/06/18 08:30
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: King_Coal

The rail infrastructure is now better equipped to deliver service. Take a look at your photos of 1970. Neat locomotives, lots of employees and track that cars would literally derail on while standing still. That includes the best of the non-bankrupts. It's a safer place now that we've had 4 decades of infrastructure investments.



Date: 12/06/18 08:33
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: Lackawanna484

King_Coal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The rail infrastructure is now better equipped to
> deliver service. Take a look at your photos of
> 1970. Neat locomotives, lots of employees and
> track that cars would literally derail on while
> standing still. That includes the best of the
> non-bankrupts. It's a safer place now that we've
> had 4 decades of infrastructure investments.

Agreed, but for the purpose of debate...

with all these improvements, many customers receive worse service than they did 40 years ago



Date: 12/06/18 08:52
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: NYSWSD70M

King_Coal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The rail infrastructure is now better equipped to
> deliver service. Take a look at your photos of
> 1970. Neat locomotives, lots of employees and
> track that cars would literally derail on while
> standing still. That includes the best of the
> non-bankrupts. It's a safer place now that we've
> had 4 decades of infrastructure investments.

Sure, but the carriers squander all of this capability and capacity. Instead of looking at ways to put it to work, they take a page out of the book from the bad old days. Only difference is, instead of cutting their way to prosperity, they are cutting their way to better OR's. Neither methodology grows business. As customers change or go out of business, they are not replaced by new ones that ship rail (in most cases).

Posted from Android



Date: 12/06/18 09:58
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: SCL1517

The question is, when does the Class 1 network ever stop shrinking? One would think that after all of the streamling and crew reductions since the early 80's that a Class 1 could be just as low cost of an operator as a short line. Yet, we still have NS and CSX pruning lines. Some, in coal country, make sense. Others, like the CSX line across the Florida panhandle, not so much. If a line like this was viable 30 years ago, and now it's not, what does that say for the REAL health of the industry? Ditto for other nearby CSX lines in Georgia that seem to be past their prime. I'm talking about secondary mains like the "Bow Line" and the Georgia Subdivision. If this wasn't still a retrenching, slowly dying mode of transportation, lines like these would be viable as through routes. Instead, the state of Georgia feels a lot like Ohio in, say, 1981.



Date: 12/06/18 11:32
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: bioyans

Hence the reason I refer to PSR as "Ponzi Scheme Railroading."  After so long, you run out of assets to sell or lease, and your poor service catches up with you.  PSR might work in the short term, but Hunter Harrison left nearly every one of his former properties in shambles.  Once it is all said and done, history will likely show that he was backed into a corner at CP where he HAD to find a merger partner, or everything was about to collapse.  The realization that it was not going to happen without some sort of push, was staring him in the face.   Enter Mantle Ridge, whose ONLY investment is CSX.  They orchestrate his quick exit from CP, his forced installation at CSX, and he starts the process of creating another rotting corpse that will need a merger partner to survive.  The final end game was likely a marriage between CP and CSX, but he died before he had a chance to make it reality.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/18 11:33 by bioyans.



Date: 12/06/18 14:03
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: altoonafn

SCL1517 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The question is, when does the Class 1 network
> ever stop shrinking? One would think that after
> all of the streamling and crew reductions since
> the early 80's that a Class 1 could be just as low
> cost of an operator as a short line. Yet, we still
> have NS and CSX pruning lines. Some, in coal
> country, make sense. Others, like the CSX line
> across the Florida panhandle, not so much. If a
> line like this was viable 30 years ago, and now
> it's not, what does that say for the REAL health
> of the industry? Ditto for other nearby CSX lines
> in Georgia that seem to be past their prime. I'm
> talking about secondary mains like the "Bow Line"
> and the Georgia Subdivision. If this wasn't still
> a retrenching, slowly dying mode of
> transportation, lines like these would be viable
> as through routes. Instead, the state of Georgia
> feels a lot like Ohio in, say, 1981.

Short line working rules may be more flexible or less restrictive, especially when it comes to crossing craft boundaries, where efficiencies may be gained by having the same emoplyees perform multiple jobs. You may have a few industries that need service once a week, or on a weird schedule. A Class 1 would probably have work rules that give track maintenance work, engine service work, mechanical work, and paperwork to different crafts. On a short line, that would could be done by the same people on different days of the week, at least in theory.
 



Date: 12/06/18 15:29
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: DirtyShirt

SCL1517 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> country, make sense. Others, like the CSX line
> across the Florida panhandle, not so much. If a
> line like this was viable 30 years ago, and now
> it's not, what does that say for the REAL health
> of the industry?

I share your doom and gloom outlook.

30 years ago?  Heck, wasn't it viable just 2 or 3 years ago?  I'm no expert on Florida railroading, but I thought a couple of years ago that line was handling all the New Orleans to Waycross manifest traffic and an intermodal pair plus Florida coal loads and empties.  I remember the optimism about that line when the Sunset Limited was extended across Florida in the early '90s, new passenger stations, new sidings with spring switches.

I remember the excitement that surrounded the Conrail transaction 20 years ago.  NS and CSX were building new connections to accomodate new routings, predicting huge traffic increases on many lines, planning to start new services.  Whatever happened to the 15 trains a day that were supposed to operate on the Shenandoah Valley line North of Roanoke, or the Roadrailers that NS was going to operate on the Northeast Corridor?  How about how NS was going to operate the former Virginian and West Virginia Secondary as a secondary through route between Columbus and Roanoke?  How is CSX doing in Boston nowadays?  It's all about real estate sales, skimming the most profitable business off the top and stock buybacks.

On the bright side, we are gaining more interesting short line and regional railroads that seem to have an interest in the local communities where they operate. 



Date: 12/06/18 20:05
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: spwolfmtn

altoonafn Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Short line working rules may be more flexible or
> less restrictive, especially when it comes to
> crossing craft boundaries, where efficiencies may
> be gained by having the same emoplyees perform
> multiple jobs. You may have a few industries that
> need service once a week, or on a weird schedule.
> A Class 1 would probably have work rules that give
> track maintenance work, engine service work,
> mechanical work, and paperwork to different
> crafts. On a short line, that would could be done
> by the same people on different days of the week,
> at least in theory.

Interestingly though, now days, with the productivity improvements the Class One railroads have gotten, the advantage that shortlines have had because of lower labor costs have mostly evaporated.  Couple this with the fact that Class One railroads also have lower costs in many areas because of their "economies of scale", the incentive to get rid of lines on those issues have been reduced.
The main reason for why the Class One railroads keep "shortlining" their trackage is: 1) they just do not want to have to deal with all the details of operating that close/with customers (let the shortline do that); 2) they do not have to invest their capital into those lines.



Date: 12/07/18 09:43
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: RFandPFan

SCL1517 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The question is, when does the Class 1 network
 Ditto for other nearby CSX lines
> in Georgia that seem to be past their prime. I'm
> talking about secondary mains like the "Bow Line"
> and the Georgia Subdivision. If this wasn't still
> a retrenching, slowly dying mode of
> transportation, lines like these would be viable
> as through routes. Instead, the state of Georgia
> feels a lot like Ohio in, say, 1981.

With two recent derailments on the Fitzgerald Sub and the need to reroute trains over the Georgia Sub and Bow Line, CSX may think twice before selling off these lines now that the Tallahassee Sub has been sold.



Date: 12/07/18 10:05
Re: PSR versus Regulation
Author: dan

terminals and cities  are saddled with choke points, crews too



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