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View Full Version : Uphill battle for shortlines vs. Class 1s-- grain


ShortlinesUSA
12-28-2009, 01:39 PM
I thought some may find the linked article of interest. This is a prime example of how some midwestern and western shortlines are being sucked dry by newer, much larger grain elevators located on the class 1s. The elevators are frequently served by unit, shuttle trains that the class 1s have done a better job serving with dedicated service. The elevator usually has a short time to turn the train around, typically about 24 hours. Most of the time, there is very little, if any, switching work involved for the class 1-- the elevator handles it all with a plant switcher. Class 1s get what they want-- long haul traffic with no local switching costs for them, just need a crew of two to take it from point A to point B. As a result, the class 1s have been very cooperative at getting these facilities to locate along their lines.

While this is certainly progress and a free market economy at work, this article does give some insights into the unintended consequences of the "super elevators" for both small towns and shortline railroads that host small grain elevators.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/us/27rail.html?_r=1

troy12n
12-28-2009, 10:10 PM
I think the biggest battle is going to be MOW issues. There was a HUGE amount of class 1 RR trackage shed in the 80's and 90's, most of which has seen little to no maintenance since it was shortlines. Millions of ties need to be replaced, ballast needs to be cleaned and replaced (have you EVER seen a ballast cleaner or undercutter on a shortline?) and shortlines a lot of time dont have the MOW crews or equipment to do this sort of stuff en masse and cant afford to hire a company like corman, trackmasters, etc). So the lines deteriorate to the point where they are 10 mph excepted track and the line ends up being embargoed and torn up because they lose all the business.

Joe the Photog
12-29-2009, 12:06 AM
I'm reminded of the operation that moved off the Great Walton (Hartwell) to new digs on the CSX. Then again, there is Circle S on the L&C which does good business, in spite of the lack of cars there today --

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joethephotog/4223092045/

The "tin can" in the shot is new. Almost all of the unit trains come off the NS.