North American RR's coming back big time

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by rhtastro, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    RR's on the North American continent are booming these days. They are adding more track, locos and freight cars, cleaning out tunnels and getting ready for the increase in business that they have started to see. It's due to the high cost of diesel for trucks and the dearth of drivers. Coal hauling is still king but there's a huge increase in container traffic as well. In my area here in northern CA for UP it's mainly still lumber, which is down from last year, but truck trailers and containers have increased lately. Amtrak is also more popular due to high gas prices, 4 bucks a gallon out here. The future looks very bright for this industry and will eventually be all electric powered from nuclear power plants as is the case in Europe today. We're a little behind in that respect but we'll catch up when fuel prices rise further. Read the following piece for details. What's going on in your neighborhood. :wave::wave::thumb: Bob
    A Switch on the Tracks: Railroads Roar Ahead
  2. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    This is interesting and I've noticed similar trends.

    Yes, you're right re electrification. Most passenger trains in Britain are electric while freight still tends to be diesel.

    I suspect that electrification hasn't happened in Canada (and in much of the US) due to our huge distances and climate. I'm not sure how our vast distances, and our many regions that face extreme cold and snow, would cope with electrification, but I'm interested in hearing more thoughts on this.

  3. Don7

    Don7 Member

    BC Rail had a major portion of the Tumbler Ridge coal line electrified. However, with the passing of BC Rail that is now gone.

    Northern BC is certainly looking forward to the new container port in Prince Rupert. The Container port services the far East, containers are going straight from Prince Rupert to Chicago and what is most interesting is the increasing number of containers returning to Prince Rupert with goods from the US going to China.

    Check out the main CN web page. One news release was about the 75 new diesel engines that were required mainly for the new Container Port and of cours the large amount of new container well cars.
  4. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    It is technically feasible - there's a great deal of electrification in Russia.

    Back in the 70s, there were many proposals for electrification. The best-known is probably the BN Powder River Basin plan. The Santa Fe is the only US road I know of to consider electrifying its entire transcontinental mainline. CP planned to electrify from Calgary to the west coast.
  5. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    Don7, how is the container port being received by the people of Prince Rupert? Most of the citizens in our area in Delta and all the way up to Vancouver are very upset about the traffic that our DeltaPort expansion will bring to the area. I have to admit, I've looked into it and it seems that port expansion is ill-conceived due to all of the traffic that trucks already have trying to travel northeast through Vancouver. Besides, there is a fragile ecological area where migrating birds stop to feed that will be lost due to the port expansion. The feeling among most people is to ship and receive from Prince Rupert and avoid the Vancouver congestion. Premier Gordon Campbell begs to differ.

    As much as I am ecology minded, I'll have to admit I enjoyed watching the long coal trains and container trains; first BC Rail and now CN.
  6. mikebalcos

    mikebalcos Member

    This is interesting news indeed. :) I hope more Americans will opt for Amtrak. Passenger trains are a romantic idea for me. I could not imagine myself to model an American railroad without passenger service!
  7. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    While it is perhaps not surprising that rail traffic has seen some significant increase of late, the American rail system has been so dramatically curtailed by progressive closure and abandonment over the past four decades that there is little left of its original infastructure. While yards in the large cities, or ports, may be well served, trackage to nearly all the individual industries formerly served by rail are long gone and the investment necessary to reinstate them would be enormously prohibitive today.

    Remember also, that virtually all U.S. locomotives are run on diesel fuel, which at present is increasingly more expensive than gasoline, whereas it was once dramatically cheaper than gas. These highly significant factors (there are certainly others to be considered), seem to preclude any truly great boom in rail traffic resurgence in the near future, at least in my opinion.

  8. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    Slekjr & CNJ999 could be right, since the infrastructure of many RR's in the US are in poor condition. However, as the Post article confirms, they are spending huge sums to renovate rails, tunnels, yards, etc. And also the fact is that rail traffic has increased substantially as of late. I have heard that the lines have ordered over a thousand new locos for delivery. They wouldn't be doing all that unless there was a need. These guys and their investors are not stupid and they know RR's are the future. I already see far fewer 18 wheelers on the I-5 freeway as compared to 2 years ago and longer and more frequent trains at the crossing up the street. It's real, alright.

    By the way, I stop for trains, do you?
  9. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    Charlie, thanks for an interesting critique on the labor situation with RR's. If we lazy Americans don't want to work on the roads, then let's bring in folks from Eastern Europe or Asia who want to work. That's what we did in the 19th century and it built the nation. Maybe it's time for that again. That's what we do in the electronics industry and other scientific fields here in CA. They make good wages and eventually good citizens. The local lazies can always work at Burger Queen or Pizza Babs. bob
  10. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    Ah, yes! The RR is making a comeback. I know that NS has invested tons of money, (over 1.2 Bilion dollars,) for upgrades of their infrastructures. They are widening their tunnels, and increasing the height of them, so that another track can be laid, and they can haul double decker modals through them. They also are planning on building an intermodal yard, either in Salem, or in the rural community of Elliston. The folks of Elliston say it will take away from their rural way of life. It will. But somethings have to be put somewhere. The yard would take over 2 million trucks off of I-81 which is one of the most dangerous Interstaes in the country. Also, a while back, NS hedged on their price for diesel fuel, and locked the price of it in for several years.
  11. tomustang

    tomustang Has Entered.

    Coal and Container cars have always been big around here, but for decades the boxcar has been obsolete and are just drug around as dead weight

    The trucking industry is huge here and killed the boxcar long ago
  12. Harold Cole

    Harold Cole Member

    Charlie ,you hit the nail on the head.I've been with Amtrak for over 31 years,and your facts are right on target.For one the TRAINING is terrible and the new hires want exactly what you said,and that is a family life 8 hours a day and weekends off.The second problem is the new hires just can't get with the program or just don't care.The good workers that we get in only stay for a short time and get hired on other Railroads or Utility companys that are paying more.I run a crew in the E.T Substation Dept Out of Chester PA.,and most of the new hires seem to be rejects from other Companys or they have machanical DOWNS SYNDRONE.Whats up with the new generation┬┐
  13. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    It isn't/wasn't the trucking industry that killed the boxcar - it was the railroads themselves. There is not reason on earth that it should cost more for me to ship a boxcar load cross country than to pay a truck to drive it - but it does, and several times as much, unless you are a regular and frequent customer.

    As others have pointed out, the railroads have historically spurned customers who didn't ship a good portion of a train a day. Consequently, they never built the newer systems and processes for handling small loads. Team tracks became a joke, and LCL non-existent. To the potential customer, the trucking companies are very newby-friendly, and will hold a new shipping and receiving managers' hands while they learn the business (using trucks of course). Try finding out even who to call to begin to order up a boxcar to a team track from a railroad.

    I have tried and failed repeatedly to use the railroads for LCL and one-time full car shipments.

    just my experiences
  14. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    SLEKJR, you made my point about American workers. They want regular hours, 2 months paid vacations, sick leave, and full benefits like Europeans and have low productivity like Europeans. What they should get is a government job. Running trains is a huge responsibility and requires much more time than working "regular hours". But it's a job and some jobs require extra effort. My daughter for example, who is a senior accountant at a large CA airport works 60 hour weeks on a regular basis but does not complain about not getting overtime or working on Saturdays. Many folks around here in the sciences work 12 hour days 7 days a week. I did that for many years. It's what people do when they love the work and need to provide for their families. The RR's pay well and I can not believe they have a hard time finding emloyees. It sure must be different in other parts of this country. People I know really work hard and don't complain. They're just glad to have a job. A lot of people in this country must be spoiled by the good times. But things are a changin and it doesn't look too good. I remember the 1930's when any job was a privilege to have and people would do anything and hours worked were of little consequence. We may be heading in that direction again sooner than we think.
  15. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    I'm not sure if we are seeing 'lazy Americans' or just Americans out of work. Our presidential candidates are trying to tell us that we need to repeal NAFTA in order to get our jobs back. In the meantime, Homeland Security would like to build fences at both southern and northern borders. Well, I disagree with all of them. My idea would be to have Homeland Security build walls around our seaports, that way the stuff being unloaded from Asia will not be able to reach our retailer's shelves. That being the case, Americans will have to make their own clothing, appliances, cars, TVs, computers; and yes, even model trains! Suddenly we would find so much work to be done at home that we would be able to share the workload with our Canadian and Mexican neighbors.

    Do I have your vote? Please send in your campaign contributions.

  16. lapuce033

    lapuce033 New Member

    Booming and electric

    Well here around Montreal, Quebec, we are seeing new commuter tracks being added, for the first time in many years, also there is talk to electrify some train lines, as we only have one that has catenary, ther is talk to add catenary to two more of them. And the Montreal commuter train agency bought with NJT 5 bi-mode locomotives that work on both electricity and Fuel.
  17. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    On the way to the post office today I had to stop for 2 long trains down the road from my ranch. Both had 75-80 cars loaded with trucks, trailers and containers. One going south and one going north about 30 minutes apart. I would imagine that the northbound, towards Portland, was loaded while the other towards Sacramento was empty. Maybe it was a little of both. But mainly, I've noticed a huge increase in that type of traffic over the last year and Amtrak trains are definately longer. If oil gets to $200 and gas to $6 a gallon the traffic on the nearby 5 freeway will be very sparse by then and the RR's will be running every 10 minutes or more. They'll need double track out here by then as it's pretty crowded now. The siding near my property is used almost all the time as it is. Now we need more electrification and electric locos like in Europe. What's your experience with this?
  18. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    It is not surprising that you see so many longer trains. I don't often see them, but I live close enough to hear them, almost 24/7. I have noticed a definite increase in rail traffic. I can tell, because I can hear the whistle, every time it crosses the almost defunct railroad crsossing just below my house.. There are two tracks running on one side of the river, and a single track on the other side. Both are owned by NS, and they have been adding more ballast to the tracks for several weeks, now.
  19. jimbogibbo

    jimbogibbo Member

    new switcher

    should ilet my new dockside switcher run alone awhile or would it be ok for it to go ahead and run my other eight cars with it.wall1
  20. Whut? Totally random post quite possibly in the wrong thread.

    And yeah, I noticed that. I think UP put in an order for MORE SD90MAC-H's! THE 6000HP ONES!...that's just insane. I can't remember how many, but also it's just a rumor, so w/e.

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