• Cost Issues in the Rail Freight Operating Processes

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by SRS125
Lots of Time, Money, and People
UP keep or Locomotives, Rolling Stock, misc Track equipment, signals (road and rail), insurence, payroll, accdent clean up, health and befits, buying power for new equipment and supplys, and Advertiseing. All money related things that can make or break a company.

  by Marin
are there anybody an expert in rail freight operation costing?
  by Marin
I am quite interested in rail freight operation subject (shunting and yard operations)! I am very interested how it happens in US cos it is quite different than Europe! Any adherents?

  by SRS125
Most yard opeartions here in the states use 2 forms of switching Flat Switching and Hump Opeartions.

Flat Switching is done more ofton in the states and in Canada.
Hump operations use one or two locomotives or one locomitve and a slug (engionless locomotive with tracktion moters). The Loco & Slug push a long string of cars mid way up an incline with in the yard and cut the car at the top allowing the car to free roll into the yard all switches are controled by computer. Hump operations are used in larger citys and is much faster.

In both cases weather Flat Switching or in a Hump Yard Opeartions. Rail Cars are shuffled from track to track putting them in blocks bound for diffrent destionations, Citys, States/Provinces, or local industrys. All of this is done with the use of computers and waybills which report each cars place with in the train and what they are carrying.

Rail Cars found to have a defect are pulled from the yard or inbound trains and placed at the R.I.P. Track for repair or sent to the car shop for heavy repair. Empty Boxcars and Reefers are also pulled from inbound trains to be cleaned out befor entering the yard for rerouteing.

Locomotives are sent to the fuel and sanding rack for service and inspection befor heading out on there next assignment. If a major problum is found the loco is sent to the shops for repair.
  by Marin
Could we discussed the matter of Measures of Performance (MoPs) of Rail Freigh Operations?
How do they measure the Productivity, efficiency and quality of Rail Freight Operations?
Do they do a difference between the Customer's perspectives and the Server's perspectives?

  by SRS125
The railroads look at the volume of traffic a shipper may provide. A new company opening up will file for an impact study and share all info with the city or town in which it plans to open along with the mode of transport for in comeing and out going goods for both railraods and truck traffic. A coustomer can call apon the railroad for cars, leasers, or its own cars to hall product to and from the factory.

The railroads keep a record of shipments to and from each factory(s) or mill(s) it serves. Railroads have the obligation to study each company and there progress. If a company was not shipping X amount of cars a year the price went up to make up for the maintaince coast on the switch into the factory grounds. The way the railroads work are that they pay half the coast for a switch while the company being served pays the outher half. If the company that owns the sideing can't pay there half of the coast of the switch the railroad has the right to file for the removel of it.
  by Marin
In terms of Freight Transportation by Rail there are two working methods to be considered:

• Working method on a “pendulum principle”
• Working method on a “principle of multi-stopping train”

The “pendulum” is quite an abstract notion in terms of freight train flows movement on the railway network. The pendulum principle might be defined as locomotive rides when a locomotive is tended to operate between two railway stations, freight terminals or marshalling yards. In such a case the locomotive fulfills pendulum rides only between those tow points on the railway network. The function of such a locomotive is to haul coupled freight wagons (loaded or empty) from one railway station to another and vice versa. Between two rides some delays may occur because of non-readiness of next freight cars to be hauled or because of complications in gate inspection procedures.

The pendulum principle might also be defined as freight train rides when “so-called” block-trains are in use.

The principle of multi-stopping train is when a rolling stock (in our case It is only freight cars and locomotive) has an established destination point but during its ride to this point the rolling stock is planned to stop on several freight terminals, stations or yards for changing and shifting freight cars, locomotive or both, coupling, uncoupling, loading and/or unloading wagons etc..

Which is the most common working method in US?

  by SRS125
correct!! Trains here in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico all operate the same way moveing from one major city to the next seting out cars in larger yards for brake down to local interstate trains. The Locals take the cars to smaller yards out side of the big city to anouther smaller yard in some cases for anouther local to take the cars to industries or to interchange with outher short line railroads or regionals. Heres a good exsample of one train that runs on Conrail (Now CSX)

Train BUSY (Buffalo, NY-to-Silkirk, NY) This is an east bound train lets say this train started in Chicago, Illinois going East to Buffalo this train would be called CHBU for exsample. This train is a general fraght mixed cargo Boxacars, tankcars, gondolas, Reefers, Covered and open hoppers. Avarage number of locomotives may have been lets say 6 Union Pacific Locomotives once they hit Chicago, Il the power is pulled and the cars are sorted later on in the day Conrail adds oh 4 Locomotives to take the train to Buffalo on the way the train will his Gary, Indiana maybe drop cars off there and pick up a few cars as well. The next stop would be Erie, PA cars get droped and picked up. Next stop is Frontier Yard in Buffalo, NY the train gets broken up and resorted into Train BUSY (Buffalo, NY to Selkirk, NY) BUSY is an odd train with all of the general assorted fraght cars plus Auto Racks, and Double Stack well Cars. The train will start out with lets say 6 Locomotives for a 130 car train. The top speed is 55 miles an hour with 5 30mph speed restrictions between Buffalo and Syracuse the train will make stopes in Rochestor, NY, Lyons, NY, Syracuse, NY, Utica, NY and then Selkirk Yard in Selkirk, NY where the cars picked up and droped off over its number of stopes will be re sorted for points east, North, and South for the following Railroads Guilford, Canadian Pacific, and Delaware & Hudson. The of the outher stopes that were made along the way are sorted out by local trains that will again sort there cars and take them to local industrys in there areas.

The Lyons Local for exsample will inter- change cars with 3 short lines and several industys.

The Rochestor local will run cars to industys in the area as well as run cars to Lyons for swap cars as well.

Cars droped by Train BUSY in Syracuse, NY would be stack cars and TOFC cars along with seveal General Fraght Cars trains would be broken up here and sent out for local industry and intercahnge with the New York Sesquhannah & Western, Canadian National, and the Finger Lakes Railway.
  by Marin
The Needs of Goods Transportation by Rail means the daily, monthly or yearly need of the real amount and sort of cargo stands waiting to be transported by rail from its origin to its destination.

Based on these needs the railways plan and organize:

• the freight flows on the rail net
• the freight train movements
• the type of the circulated freight trains.

The freight flows on the Railway network and the freight train movements form “trunks” or in other words these are Rail Freight Transport Corridors. The trunks link the origin with destination directly and generally speaking they consist of terminal, yards, railway stations and rail lines.

The circulated freight trains can be grouped in accordance with:

• the length
• the weight
• mixture

In accordance with the length concerning limiting maximum trailing length of about 750 meters, these are:

• Long freight trains
• Short freight trains
• Freight trains on Average
• Fixed (Block-trains)

In accordance with the weight concerning limiting trailing weight of about 1500 tones, there are:

• Heavy freight trains
• Light freight trains
• Freight trains on Average

In accordance with mixture, these are:

• Heavy but Short freight trains
• Heavy but Long freight trains
• Light but Short freight trains
• Light but Long freight trains
• Fixed – on Average

How is it organized in US?

  by SRS125
What they do is look at the number of loaded and empty cars with in one train the weaght dose make a difference the langth of train is taken into account only when the thought of blocking railroad crossings exceding the langth of a sideing maybe come a problum. The number of cars and weaght will give the number of locomotives and horse power needed to pull and or push a trrain if need be. In general most trains here in North and Central America have between 2 and 3 Locomotives pulling sometimes as many as 8 or more pending on where they are in the country weather its in the mountains or on flat land.

Now the trickey part if you have 124 cars in your train and the first 20 are loaded coal cars then the train can not go over 40mph this is to control the rocking of the cars.

General fraght trains mixed with assorted cars are alowed speeds od 50-55 mph.

Loaded Unit Coal, Unit Grain, Unit Log, Unit Stone, and Unit Ore Trains being vary heavey moves are not to go over 40mph when loaded to control rocking of cars.

Unit tank trains vary pening on what they carry loaded no more then 40 when empty thay can clear 50mph

Unit Auto Rack trains are cleared at speeds of 50-60mph loaded or empty.

TOFC/COFC and Mail trains are cleared at speeds between 50 and 70mph

Parashable trains are nonstop trains the power stayes with the train from coast to coast with takeing the whole train thew the fueling racks speeds are in general between 50 and 65mph.

Lite power moves with 2 or more locomotives with no cars are cleared at 50mph

MOW equipment is restricted to speeds of 15-30mph

Snow Plows 5mph in the winter at work.
  by Marin
Nowadays the general conception for freight transport in Europe is the “so-called” the least cost mode!
By definition the least cost mode means the mode which can meet a requirement for transport between two points at the lowest overall cost, indicating user cost, operators net costs, and external costs.
In other words the least cost mode is to encourage the usage of the least cost mode of transport for each freight transport market.
The least cost mode will be depending upon:
• the size, type and nature of the freight flows (in bulk or not) and goods being transported
• the distance from origin to destination point
• the geographical characteristics of the route
• the quality of the freight service expressed in
o no goods damages
o no goods thieveries
o no goods deteriorations
In the case of railway freight service the least cost mode can be seen now in a little range of markets. These include:
• Freight moved over long distance
• Very dense freight moved in large quantities even over shorter distance
• Containerization

Is it the same in US?

  by SRS125
From my understanding most shippers look at the distance and whos cheap to ship there goods to outher locations. Most ofton you'll find that both Trucks and Trains service the same location and go long distance to ship things from state to state or country to country. Most states are trying to limit the number of trucks crossing the state lines by asking big trucking companys like Swift, UPS, Fedex, Schinder International, and outhers to ship by rail. Most of the trucks you'll see here on the road are independiant truck drivers who work for them selves under contracts.
One good exsample was one of the regional Grocery store chains in the area they used to ship all products out side there regional coverage which was about 6 states in all in by rail. Anything with in the 6 state region was trucked in and out with in the region. Sents the company went into resevership they sold a lagre number of there stores and not ship by truck.
Anderson Windows in Oregon used to ship by Amtrak express by rail cars to anouther one of there plants in Minnasota. Befor all this they shiped by Intermodal on the BNSF the only diffrence was that shiping Amtrak got the product from one plant to the outher one day earlyer than it did by shipping on BNSF. If they were to ship by truck for exsample it may take oh lets say 4 days by truck, 3 days on BNSF, and 2 days by Amtrak.
Sometimes the shortest route is not always the fastest route eather like everyone has accounted for things such as the weather, track maintaince, crew avalability, and any detours that may take place if there was a wash out or derailment. All of this is taken into account railroads like Union Pacific have a big problum with crew avlabilty there so short on tran staff that trains sit for day or weks at a time weaghting to be moved. UPS is to blame for a lot of the Union Pacifics problums and the over max of trains that cant be handled are looking quite grim.
In the case of a derailment if the product is lost its sent back to the shipper or sold for what ever scrap value it may have, railcars that are damaged or on there sides are cut up and sold for scrap on the spot. Fulley loaded Tank cars are drained of there products and transfered to tanker trucks to contiue on there trip. Empty Tank Cars are also removed of any left over product such as gas or fuems that still linger befor being moved.
  by Marin
A regular maintenance is an essential ingredient of providing reliable and seamless rail freight service. The railway freight service may deteriorate because of lack of maintenance as it happened in most of the transition countries.

Although maintenance is expensive and it is becoming more expensive when replace the failing equipment earlier in its usage because of maintenance has been neglected.

The seamless fulfillment of rail freight operating processes and the reliability of the whole rail system depend strongly on maintenance fulfilled in good time.

The rolling stock is the most maintenance intensive part because it is the most vulnerable if maintenance is neglected. A stalled rolling stock if the stall occurs on the railway line it may cause serious reduction in a planned schedule and further unexpected complications on the whole railway network.

The rolling stock is the most maintenance intensive but not only does the rolling stock require maintenance. There are also trackwork, traction power equipment, signaling, communication equipment etc. and the maintenance workshops must be equipped to handle all these.

The rolling stock maintenance is programmed in one of the following three ways:

• In mileage
• By time
• By conditioning monitoring

A good maintenance is to avoid failures and to ensure that the problems are eliminated before they occur.

Equipment and Rolling stock performance in respect to failures is measured by:

• Mean Time between Failures (MTbF)
• Mean Distance between Failures (MDbF)
• Mean Time to Repair (MTtR)

How do they measure maintenance performance in US?

  by SRS125
Locomtive Maintaince:
Here after each and every run locomotives are pulled from there train after every run for inspection and serviceing befor being sent back out over the road on its next assignment this is a daily process. Railroads here have a list of locomotives due for over hauling and repainting and see that it gets done on the date its due. Rail lines such as the SOO Line for exsample only repainted locomotives when there were due for over haul or if they were going to be in the shop for a month or two. Lines like the Southern Pacific were crubleing and never washed there locomotives to much thats why they always look dirty its not that they did not care it was a matter of conserveing on water for outher matters due to the desert locations that they ran in. If the number of locomotives in the shop or an over flow of traffic should come up leaseing firems send locomotives to railroads that are short in power we refer to them as rent-a-wrecks becuse the leases buy worn out locomotives rebuild them only to see them back in bad shape. The railroad is not responsable for fixeing these locomtives only there use weather its by miles or power by the hour.

Railraod fraght cars are suposed to be inspected every day like locomotives but I don't think they get as much attetion as they should. Cars are set up every few months for inspection thow major problums are fixed at the car shops such as adding new trucks redoing brake lines and so forth. Small fix it your self jobs such as brake lines and couplers are done by the railroad in the field. Railcars wrecked in derailments are scraped on the spot.

Rail Track Maintaince is done when it gets done. Railroads them selfes inspect there lines a leaset 2 days a week and report any thing needing replacement. Its not like the old days where the lines were inspected 7 days a week.
Sperry Rail Service inspects lines like CSX every 6 months for rail stress and internal defects with in the steel its self. Rail grindeing is done about onces a year in some places and more frequintley in more curvey locations such as high up in the mountains. Ballest cleaning is done in late fall to early spring befor the snow fall and winter though to insure that drainige won't be a problum.
Undercutting is done when a line is rilly in need of heavey draniage and raiseing the line so that it sits on higher ground.
Railroad ties are changed when ever it seems to be anouther when ever it gets done job here in the north east pat of the U.S. Concrete ties are being added in now in some parts of the U.S. as well. Bridges are inspected once ever 1-2 years for stress wear and outher faults that may make it unsafe for use.

Signal equipment is checked out quite ofton things such as a defaulted crossing gate not working right are called in by the railroad engneers or by moterest at the crossing can call the railroad and give the location of the defcting gate not working right. Signal towers are inspected by the maintaners as well as the defect detectors that report problums such as dragging equipment, hot boxes, excess high cars, and cars listing. Both the signal towers and defect detectors are inspected when the dispatcher sees that there is a problum on his computer screen.

Lines such as Conrail inharited all of the things that I covered above everything from Bad Track, signals, locomotives, and rail cars. All of this stuff saw little to no attention when the major rail roads in the U.S. went belly up and into resever ship. The lines to go up and dates in which they did so were:

New York Central (NYC) 1956
Pennsylvainna Railroad (PRR) 1956
Reading Lines (RDG) 1976
Lehigh Valley (LV) 1976
Pennsylvainna-Reading Seashore Lines (PRSL) 1976
Ratain River (RR) 1985
Niagra Junction (NJ) 1976
Erie-Lackawanna (EL) 1976
Buffalo Creek (BC) 1976
Detroit Terminal (DT) 1986
New York New Haven & Hartford (NH) 1956
along with several outhers. The NYC, PRR, and the NH became the Penn Central (PC) in 1956 all of these lines later became Conrail on 1/1/1976 Conrail also got all of the problums bad track, signals, cars, locomotives, and so forth. Sents Conrail was government owned at the time they pulled and scraped anything and everything not worth fixing and brought the lines in which they ran to a top notch railroad by 1986 to turn there first major profit.

In the case of a wreck all of this info above is put to the test to figure out whay and how it happened even the weather is fectored in to the who equation along with all of the people invaloved with the train all the way down to the shippers and resevers of there goods.