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Old 05-29-2008, 01:16 AM
 
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Is the diesel prices a major reason why we're not getting as much railroad traffic as before? I sometimes go railfanning on the Fallbridge Subdivision in the Tri-Cities area (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland) in SE Washington State and I remember back in the pre-21st Century and in the mid 2000s you would see at least 2 trains per hour, since then you only see an average of 4-5 trains in 3 hours and there would be a couple hours where you wouldn't see any trains at all.
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Old 05-29-2008, 04:12 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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If anything, diesel prices should be driving more rail traffic since rail transport is far more efficient pound-for-pound than truck traffic. I think the demand for shorter and shorter lead times throughout many industries and the trend toward tight inventory management has favored truck traffic with its quicker and more flexible shipping schedules. But as fuel becomes more expensive, the trucking industry is eventually going to have to pass on those costs to its customers and the gains from efficiency and flexibility are going to be increasingly offset by the growing truck-shipping costs.

Another possible explanation is bottlenecks and re-routes in train lines. Chicago for instance is a HUGE bottleneck -- sometimes trains sit literally for DAYS waiting for clearance. Railroad companies are trying to find alternatives around Chicago, and it's become a hot-button issue. [RANT] In particular, Canadian National is trying to buy a little-used line through the suburbs with all those suburbs up in arms about the potential increase in train traffic -- as if they woke up one day to find a brand new railroad right-of-way through their towns. "But the increased railroad traffic will mess up traffic in our towns!!" Gee, shoulda thought of that before you put a bunch of grade-level crossings through a private right-of-way, maybe? [/RANT]

Perhaps locomotives are becoming more powerful and thus able to tow longer trains, reducing the number of trains while retaining the same actual cargo volume? A pure guess -- I have no idea about this one.
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Old 05-29-2008, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
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There was a major landslide that cut the rail lines to California last October. They have just been reopened on a limited basis. This may have cut rail traffic thorugh your area.

Overall rail traffic has increased substantially over the last decade driven by increased imports from China and more use of Wyoming low sulfur coal.

I think the grade crossings west of Chicago have been there for decades but the rail traffic dropped off so much 20 years ago the current residents forgot about the tracks. Maybe the rail traffic could be limited during the daily auto rush hours or run at night.

Vastly increased rail freight will be one of our major accomodations to increased fuel prices. Might be time to buy some stock.
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Old 05-29-2008, 02:06 PM
 
Location: The Circle City. Sometimes NE of Bagdad.
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Saw this a few months ago, might help explain things.

Idle rail cars reflect slowing economy
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Old 05-29-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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Another thing what I've been noticing is the increased amount of coal trains and intermodel trains we've been getting and a decreased amount of the manifest trains, I also been noticing that you don't see as many BN freight cars on them trains anymore like you used to in the mid 2000s, I sure hope they won't start cutting back on the use of the BN freight cars cause BN is my all time favorite railroad company.
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:42 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
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BNSF is good and active on the line that runs parallel to SR-22 out past Prosser. Although, I have noticed some trains stopping and or going *really* slow close to the house.

Off topic, but you do know about the one steam engine that's parked in the rail yard close to the Richland airport, right? It came right by our place on a cool morning late this winter, IIRC. In any case, it's there.

BNSF has a pretty good website, with a "company store" where you can buy paraphenalia, if you are interested in that.
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:26 PM
 
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Not really the railroads are doing all teh buiness they can handle. That is because they can move tiems at a much cheaper price on fuels.The thing is that they have shifted more of their resources to areas where the economy is booming.I personally hope the governmant puts more money into railraods but then it looks like they most are making politcal decisions not econmic ones lately.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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Mopac1980, maybe you should consider being a "truckfan" instead of a "railfan"...

Drover, sometimes I wish that we could suddenly grant the people who want to "put all of the truck freight onto trains and get it off of the highways" their wish and let them see what a screwy idea that is... Granted, intermodal is a great thing and it is making transportation in this country better for a number of reasons. But too many people don't understand that trucks will have to be used for 'the last mile" unless we want to run train tracks to every business in America. And if you think waiting for a truck to get up to speed takes a lot of time...

Last edited by Crew Chief; 05-31-2008 at 01:52 PM.. Reason: Add further info
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Old 05-31-2008, 03:51 PM
 
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I wish we could go back to the days when there were not so many independent truckers driving crazy but we can't also. I thing rail being cheaper to move a load and the cost of truck tearing up rodways that were never designed for them with thier loads would end. Afterall it is the truckers that say with current gas prices they can't make ends meet.It's not going to get any cheaper I am not aginst truckers but it days are limited really and we need to move large quanties with less energy which rail does.We nned to devote more tranportation money to rail system to move peole also and spend less on highway maintainance. Most are design for most car traffic as of now.There are still places for truck but just not moving so much so far and so many.I agree it takes time that is why we need to start now rebuilding the infrastructure.
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Old 05-31-2008, 11:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texdav View Post
I wish we could go back to the days when there were not so many independent truckers driving crazy but we can't also. I thing rail being cheaper to move a load and the cost of truck tearing up rodways that were never designed for them with thier loads would end. Afterall it is the truckers that say with current gas prices they can't make ends meet.It's not going to get any cheaper I am not aginst truckers but it days are limited really and we need to move large quanties with less energy which rail does.We nned to devote more tranportation money to rail system to move peole also and spend less on highway maintainance. Most are design for most car traffic as of now.There are still places for truck but just not moving so much so far and so many.I agree it takes time that is why we need to start now rebuilding the infrastructure.
Texdav, today's "just-in-time" economy demands a majority of those loads be shipped by truck. Our rail infrastructure is far from being the efficient model that it should be. And who's gonna foot the bill for upgrading that infrastucture? If the dang politicians had used highway taxes to repair the highways instead of using the money for non-highway uses, our roads would be in far better shape. IMHO, I believe this country needs a good intermodal system like the Europeans have. It's getting a lot tougher to find truckers that are willing to live in sleeper cabs for weeks at a time. Most want a real life outside of the truck. So moving a shipment a short distance at each end of the rail line makes a lot of sense. (Except if you live near the end of that line...)

Last edited by Crew Chief; 06-09-2008 at 06:48 AM.. Reason: "Speling"...
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