FEC president McPherson out, replaced by Giles

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FEC president McPherson out, replaced by Giles

Postby Otto Vondrak » Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:30 am

I'm surprised this didn't get a mention here....

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/1 ... p?id=11704

As RailAmerica takes a stronger hold, does anyone thing McPherson's departure from the presidency will negatively affect the FEC? Seems like a lot of what McPherson implemented over the years is responsible for their recent successes and upswing in traffic.

-otto-
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Postby rrobserver1 » Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:54 am

A dynamic shift is occurring at FEC. With the work being done on the use of the corridor in S. FL for passenger service, the old guard is being whisked away.

Parent companies are looking at the need to get all the fed funds they can to survive in the future. With the cost of capital they will have to begin to explore these public private partnerships and the old, "we are freight only" mentality will have to change.

I posted something on another thread on this site that maybe should have had more explanation: On Friday night the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, which oversees Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties completed a charrette process for the location of the Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound passenger station.

They will continue working south, next being Abacoa, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach area.

I'm in a position to know this info, which I will remain anonymous on for now, but a follow up posting said it will never happen by 2012 and where would the funding come from.

It may not happen by 2012, maybe by 2015, but it will happen. There are too many federal agencies involved, along with the local communities and the state of Florida, as well as the supporting data.

Testimony on Thursday by the commission on infrastructure to the House Transportation Committee headed by Congressman Oberstar focused heavily on the use of existing rail corridors and a need to change the mentality of the FTA. Former Amtrak head Paul Weyrich commented that he thinks FTA has its head in the sand when it comes to their costs benefit analysis and that the current model they use would preclude almost any transit project in America from ever happening.

So to circle back to the demise of Mr. McPherson, the old dinosaurs are getting passed up by the forward thinkers who are in for the long, long haul and see the feds investing in their corridors as the future to survive.

One needs only to look at the benefit to CSX with Trirail. FEC is still kicking itself for not picking up on that deal 20 years ago, when first proposed. While it was not an extremely heavy trafficked corridor, in the grand scheme of their property it was 60 miles they didn't have to expend their own funds on.
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Postby uhaul » Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:22 pm

With RailAmerica now in the picture I guess the FEC paint scheme is a thing of the past.
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Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:08 pm

Yeah, I heard all the locos will be repainted next Thursday, around 13:00 hours. Better get your photos now........ :(
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Postby uhaul » Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:03 am

Can’t even make a comment without being met by the sound of dripping sarcasm.

Mods note: 18 edits, WOW!!!!
Last edited by uhaul on Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:06 am, edited 18 times in total.
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Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:14 am

uhaul wrote:Can’t even make a comment without being met by the sound of dripping sarcasm.


YEAH, You better hop on the next jet and get down here before it is too
late.
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Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Jan 21, 2008 6:41 pm

I talk about a president being ousted and Terry's worried what color the engines will be. ;-)

rrobserver1 wrote:So to circle back to the demise of Mr. McPherson, the old dinosaurs are getting passed up by the forward thinkers who are in for the long, long haul and see the feds investing in their corridors as the future to survive.


Are we calling McPherson a dinosaur? Are we also saying that FEC's survival hinges on the start of state-sponsored commuter services on its rails? From what I understood it was McPherson's clean-sweep of the "old thinking" that made FEC a lean machine attractive for acquisition. Or did I misunderstand what was posted above?
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Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:14 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:I talk about a president being ousted and Terry's worried what color the engines will be. ;-)

rrobserver1 wrote:So to circle back to the demise of Mr. McPherson, the old dinosaurs are getting passed up by the forward thinkers who are in for the long, long haul and see the feds investing in their corridors as the future to survive.


Are we calling McPherson a dinosaur? Are we also saying that FEC's survival hinges on the start of state-sponsored commuter services on its rails? From what I understood it was McPherson's clean-sweep of the "old thinking" that made FEC a lean machine attractive for acquisition. Or did I misunderstand what was posted above?


I really would not prefer to discuss events on the Florida East Coast from
back in the 1960's with the most bitter strike in the history of the railroad
industry and one that effectively busted all of the railroad unions.
I give that particular management a bit of credit for innovations that
eventually were adapted by the entire railroad industry. Cabooseless
freight trains, remote controlled drawbridges, short fast freight trains and
hourly pay instead of miles were some of the things that the Florida East
Coast pioneered in. They also did a number of things that the unions at
the time would not stand for and this promted a walkout that went on for
a long period of time. It stated because they would not go along with a
national settlement for the non-operating unions but spread to their entire
work force over a period of time.
I am not taking sides at this period in time over the dispute, both sides
were very stubborn in this thing and eventually this resulted in the strilke.
As a result, the management innovated in a number of ways, as I stated
above but also in a number of other ways. Three different crew districts
were combined into one and this resulted in operating crews running the
entire distance from Jacksonville to Miami/Hialeah. Today crew districts
of this distance are quite common in the industry. Combination of road
and yard work, they decided that road crews could do yard work and
yard crews could also do road work. Today on the FEC, the road freight
crews at least from what I understand do not do yard work but they
might do some work in connection with their own train, this is also
common in the entire industry. The railroad also mandated that road
crews will be paid by the hour instead of by the mile. This, too is quite
common today especially in passenger service where all Amtrak crews
and most commuter railroad crews are also paid by the mile. When I
worked for Metro-North, my pay skyrocked when we went from a mileage
rate to an hourly rate and I doubt that anybody with Metro-North would
today want to go back to a mileage rate under the national agreements
as they are presently structured. The FEC was also one of the earliest
users of concrete ties too.
This all occurred before the McPherson era although he pioneered the
use of scheduled operations and the swapping of crews on through trains
to get them back to their home terminal every trip, this is a wonderful
thing and has made their conditions much better than before.
The biggest drawback to through freight service for operating crews is the
uncertainty of when you will be called to go to work, how long you will be
laying over away from home and when you will finally get through.
Through the actions of Mr. McPherson, FEC crews generally do not have
to deal with this situation.
As I have stated previously, serveral times, I think the new managemeent
is smart enough to realize that they have a good operation with this
railroad and I do not think they will make any major changes.
I have seen Florida East Coast Railway freight operations a lot over the
past ten years here in Fort Lauderdale and I can easily state that their
operations are probably the best in the entire industry, barring none.
I think this railroad will continue to have a very bright future in coming
years. I see their freight trains many times in the course of a week.
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Postby rrobserver1 » Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:27 pm

No, their survival doens't hinge on the gov. It is called cost shifting. As shareholders demand greater returns and with MOW costs soaring, public private partnerships are looking more and more attractive.

MOW costs are not just rail and ties, but property taxes and personal property taxes. I bet you didn't know that they pay a tax on every signal box and crossing gate to the county in which it is placed. Personal property tax is a deceptive term, but that is how the tax bills list computer equipment, and other hard assests used in conjunction with a business.

Every square inch of a corridor costs money and if someone else can help share in that cost so much the better for the RR.

McPhearson was used for the purpose of just as you said, bringing it up to a salable property, but he had fought the passenger conversion movement since day one.
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Postby Noel Weaver » Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:44 pm

rrobserver1 wrote:No, their survival doens't hinge on the gov. It is called cost shifting. As shareholders demand greater returns and with MOW costs soaring, public private partnerships are looking more and more attractive.

MOW costs are not just rail and ties, but property taxes and personal property taxes. I bet you didn't know that they pay a tax on every signal box and crossing gate to the county in which it is placed. Personal property tax is a deceptive term, but that is how the tax bills list computer equipment, and other hard assests used in conjunction with a business.

Every square inch of a corridor costs money and if someone else can help share in that cost so much the better for the RR.

McPhearson was used for the purpose of just as you said, bringing it up to a salable property, but he had fought the passenger conversion movement since day one.


The property tax situation is not unique to the Florida East Coast but it
applies to all of the railroads everywhere. This is the biggest reason that
unused and unneeded facilities are removed in most cases as soon as
possible. This situation goes back a good many years.
When the last passenger trains ran on the Florida East Coast, it did not
take long for the passenger stations to be sold and/or demolished. Today
very few former passenger stations remain along the Florida East Coast.
One former passenger station remains and it is a real gem, the station at
Boca Raton has been preserved and there is some equipment at that
location on display too. Meantime freight trains whiz by there at 60 MPH.
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:30 am

The new management of Rail America are hardly forward thinkers! Expect rotten ties and ten mph speed restrictions in FECs future.
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Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:29 am

SnoozerZ49 wrote:The new management of Rail America are hardly forward thinkers! Expect rotten ties and ten mph speed restrictions in FECs future.


I DO NOT expect this at all. The trains are still running on time and in
some cases ahead of time. The line is in top notch condition. Jacksonville
to Hialeah is a long run of well over 300 miles and on any railroad for one
crew to make this run in the 12 hours allowed by the law, the line will have
to continue to be extremely well maintained. I do not think this will
change anytime in the future.
Incidentally concrete ties don't rot.
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 3:49 am

Okay,
but you may want to rethink your position in a year or two. I didn't realize that every tie on the FEC was concrete. FEC is certainly not the typical railroad in the Rail America portfolio. Many of us were under the impression that FEC was going to be kept out of Rail America and managed as a distinct asset by Fortress.

A simple review of problems on properties like the CORP, NECR, PS&P, CB&CNS indicate that the organization is unable or unwilling to make the capital expenditures to its physical plant to maintain it at acceptable levels.

Certainly FEC is a unique and prosperous property, I hope its stays that way but have seen nothing in the manner in which Rail America conducts business to think that FEC can be maintained to its usual standards.

Opening up a property like FEC to public funds ( i.e. interference) will provide capital to upgrade tracks but will also create obstacles to running an efficient, high speed freight operation. Public funding will also create a notion of "ownership" on the part of government which will increasingly encroach on the FEC as if it was an "owner" with inherent rights.
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Postby pablo » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:36 am

Snoozer, your first post was pretty weak and uninformed, but that last post was quite good. Thanks. I'm not sure I agree, but you seemed more informed. Do you work (or have you ever worked) at a Rail America location?

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Postby GOLDEN-ARM » Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:46 am

As I have posted elsewhere, in this Forum, the entire FEC has 136# CWR mainline, all concrete ties, all CTC and all crossings on the mainline fully gated. This is hardly the "typical" railroad. RailAmericas track record (no pun intended) of running a shoestring budget, in the maintanence department, is well documented. I believe Snoozers comments were in that light, as we both have first hand knowledge of RA's operations...... :wink:
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