Fun facts: MEC in 1963

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Cowford
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Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by Cowford » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:35 pm

Old annual reports are a blast to read, and give a great perspective on the past. Here are a few nuggets from MEC's 1963 performance:

* MEC handled 21,686 carloads of feed. ME's broiler production in 1963 was 64 million birds. In 2017, the state produced 47 thousand birds.
* MEC handled 21,366 carloads of potatoes, which represented a ~30% market share of ME's spud production that year. Today, ME produces about 40% of what was grown in 1963.

Together, these two market segments represented over 20% of MEC's 1963 carloadings.

* An additional 11% of carloading was gasoline, fuel oil and lube oil. The majority of that- fuel oil- was decades ago ceded to the likes of Merrill Transport with the advent of the tri-axle trailers with 64,000lb loads.

* Paper represented 25% of carloadings, 1.4 million tons. I'd guess volume (in tons) is not too dissimilar today.

* If tonnage was translated into today's car capacities (assuming 263K, not 286K), YR-1/RY-2 on the Mountain Sub would have been handling about 15 loads per day each way.

* The Company built an intermodal ramp in Wilton(!); total TOFC loads, systemwide, in 1963: 399

* A new station was built in Bucksport

* Morse circuits were discontinued except on the Back Road and connecting branches

* The Lower Road around Freeport was single-tracked

* Three stock cars were retired, leaving two remaining on the roster

* A photo features bi-level autoracks carrying IH Scouts

* Revenue per ton-mile equates to 20.09 cents... today's Class !s are closer to 5.0 cents. Shows how much more efficient transportation is today.

* MEC's OR had fluctuated between 77 and 82 over the prior ten years. EHH would have seen opportunities for improvement!
Last edited by Cowford on Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

b&m 1566
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by b&m 1566 » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:26 pm

15 car loads each way per day, wouldn't justify the Mt. Division existence today. Had the MEC stayed independent or even if Guilford, had never acquired the B&M, it would probably be nothing more than a glorified short line railroad, with the Mt. Division, long since removed from the system. It kind of makes me wonder when that day would have come for the MEC to abandon the Mt. Division. If there was a way to look at the car loads moved per year you could probably narrow it down.

b&m 1566
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by b&m 1566 » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:31 pm

Better yet, was the Mt Division already a money-losing adventure for them, even when the trains were 75+/- cars long?

Engineer Spike
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by Engineer Spike » Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:27 am

It’s surprising that Mr. Miller believed the extra line haul to the CP in St. J., and the CV via LVR. was worth it. Obviously enough customers were up for having the cars more efficiently handed off directly to the B&M at Rigby.

S1f3432
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by S1f3432 » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:21 pm

Mr. Miller made statements that he was committed to Maine Central fulfilling it's common carrier obligations
as long as it could be done with out incurring loses. The 70's saw the abandonment of the Beecher Falls,
Farmington and Eastport branches after they could no longer be operated profitably and each case involved
lengthy litigation. In the same time frame the Eastern Division mainline east of Lincoln and the Foxcroft
branch were surviving primarily on pulpwood and wood chips handled in older reworked cars handled at a
rate of three round trips a week. The Calais branch wasn't much better with about 50% of the traffic being
chips and pulp with 2 or 3 round trips a week. The railroad wasn't making a lot of money on this traffic,
probably little more than covering expenses and being a convenience to the paper mills in return for the
finished paper traffic which clearly was profitable. As marginal as traffic on the Mountain Division was it
did provide an additional gateway and and may have been beneficial for some traffic such as lime and talc
off the StJ&LC going to Maine mills and fairly significant ( at the time ) feed traffic from Blue Seal at
Richford, Vt. For quite a while the 10-12 cars a day of fuel oil for the Brown Co. at Berlin and Cascade
moved over the mountain to Whitefield and a B&M connection. While the business was enough to pay the
bills it wasn't enough to warrant large expenditures toward track maintenance until some government
assistance became available in the mid 70's. So as long as there were no big losses the old Maine frame
of mind of being content to " just get by " seemed to apply to the situation.

NRGeep
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by NRGeep » Thu May 09, 2019 9:59 am

What were the expenditures (if any) on firemen in '63?

Cowford
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by Cowford » Sun May 12, 2019 11:21 am

No mention of firemen, but MEC averaged 1,774 employees in 1963. The average wage was $54,266 in 2019 dollars; pension/retirement was an additional $4,526... adjusted, this is close to today's average railroad wages, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By today's norms, MEC was anything but efficient:

* MEC employees per route-mile: 1.9. Today's G+W (North America only): 0.34; NS: 1.37
* A more relevant stat- the comparison of revenue ton-mile per employee- is shocking. MEC's RTM/employee: 460,645. NS in 2018: 7.8 million; CSX: over 9 million (unfortunately, data for a closer apples-to-apples comparison with a similar regional is hard to find.)

edbear
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by edbear » Sun May 12, 2019 6:28 pm

Careful what you are comparing. The railroad industry of 55 or so years ago was heavily regulated and all the major roads had pretty restrictive union agreements, full day's pay for engineer 100 mi./conductor 150 mi. The MEC was probably pretty efficient for the times. I do not have the statistics from 1963; however I do have a 1960 Moody's with 1959 results. MEC, the average freight haul was a tad over 121 miles, so there are only so many gross ton miles that can be generated. In the heavily regulated environment, freight rates were based on the value of a commodity. Raw materials went at lower rates than finished goods. In 1959 the MEC carried 140,613 carloads Manufacturers & Miscellaneous (finished goods), 58.3% of freight tonnage, 62.7% of carloads, 62.9% of freight revenue. Mine products, which would include coal were 21,201 c/l, 15.6% of the tonnage, 9.4% of the carloads and 11.4% of the revenue. The railroads of then and today which carry immense quantities of coal are probably pounding themselves to pieces compared to the roads which have a wider variety of traffic. A few carloads of material to BIW, which was still constructing Navy ships then, were probably worth a lot more to the MEC than a winter's worth of coal to run some of the paper mills. Those huge coal hoppers and covered hoppers weren't around back them either. Also in defense of the MEC. Its management in the previous decade prior to that 1963 report had bought out the European & North American and ended those lease payments, bought the section of the St. J & LC that MEC had been leasing for years, refinanced its preferred stock and paid off substantial arrears that had been accumulating since 1932. And a bright future lay ahead.

b&m 1566
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by b&m 1566 » Mon May 13, 2019 12:20 pm

edbear wrote:Its management in the previous decade prior to that 1963 report had bought out the European & North American and ended those lease payments, bought the section of the St. J & LC that MEC had been leasing for years, refinanced its preferred stock and paid off substantial arrears that had been accumulating since 1932. And a bright future lay ahead.

Side question: Didn't the B&M own or leased the St. J & LC for a number of years as well? I vaguely remember reading something (with in the last year actually) about the B&M leasing a few engines, (former Fitchburg RR engines? that would have been sold or scrapped) to that railroad.

Cowford
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by Cowford » Mon May 13, 2019 1:24 pm

Careful what you are comparing.
Ed, please note that as I stated, my comparison was to "today's norms", not relative to other roads of the era. (I had a lot of respect for the late E. Spencer Miller.) And MEC's average length of haul wasn't MEC's biggest post-war issue, it was traffic density - too many unproductive branch lines that took too long to shed (to your point about the regulatory environment). One example is the Eastport branch: The abandonment application festered within the ICC for a decade before approval was granted in 1978.

TomNelligan
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Re: Fun facts: MEC in 1963

Post by TomNelligan » Mon May 13, 2019 4:26 pm

b&m 1566 wrote:Side question: Didn't the B&M own or leased the St. J & LC for a number of years as well?
Yes, it was in the B&M family for quite a few years. The Boston & Lowell bought a financial interest in the StJ&LC in 1885. When the B&L was acquired by the B&M in 1887, the B&M took out a lease of the Vermont road that lasted until 1955, although it was always locally run during the lease years. BTW, the line was known as the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain during most of this period. It didn't become the St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County until a 1948 reorganization. Handy thing that they didn't have to change the reporting marks. :-)

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