• Finger Lakes Railway (FGLK) Discussion

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

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  by Matt Langworthy
 
Poppyl, is NS seriously considering abandoning the Corning Secondary south of Geneva? If so, that's news to me. I can't see why NS would want to drop the FLGK when A. it generates a couple hundred cars in each direction per week, B. the number of scheduled trains increased in 2013 and C. NS worked on the track a year or two ago.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I'm just trying to figure out why NS would want to get rid of a branchline that generates revenue.

***edited due to typo***
Last edited by Matt Langworthy on Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by lvrr325
 
What would make sense would be a deal where Finger Lakes takes over the service, ownership goes to the counties involved, or there's a PILOT agreement, NS still gets the traffic at Corning, Finger Lakes keeps the option of interchange with both roads which allows them to be rate-competitive instead of only subject to the whim of CSX, and everyone is happy. Finger Lakes seems to be better at generating new customer traffic than NS, which is why they own the lines they do in the first place.
  by BR&P
 
What would make sense would be a deal where Finger Lakes takes over the service,
Why would it make any sense for FGLK to run to Corning, when the cars are brought to them at Geneva now? From a railfan perspective it might be cool to think of a railroad going new and different places. From a business point of view, you would be increasing operating costs, increasing exposure to potential liabilities such as grade crossing incidents, and many other unattractive possibilities. For what? The cars are already delivered to them. Would it make sense for FGLK to run over CSX to get their cars at Selkirk, rather than having CSX deliver to them at Solvay?

While FGLK has proved adept at growing business, there is not really much potential for new traffic on the line. If fracking is allowed, if some gas storage place were to open up, if the coal fired power plant re-opened, if NS decided to dispose of the line and the alternative was abandonment...if...if...if.... - then maybe it would make sense. If not, it makes no sense to take over miles and miles of track just for the sake of doing so.
I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I'm just trying to figure out why NS would want to get rid of a branchline that generates revenue.
Disclaimer - I have heard nothing to indicate NS wants to get rid of the line, and the following is general in nature and does NOT address this situation re FGLK and NS. But in many cases, railroads seem to apply standards other than normal business practice to their decision making. This was especially true in the time from the 1960s to....1990's maybe?

It can't be denied that at one time the railroads had too many people doing unneeded jobs, and had unproductive branch lines. It thus became the yardstick by which managers were measured, to see how much they could reduce costs in one or two areas - such as the number of crews, or how much overtime was worked. Never mind that those crews may have been needed, or the overtime helped get some work done. It was smoke and mirrors and only the specific parameters were measured. So the focus was not "does that line generate revenue", it was "how many crews can I cut if we get rid of that line."

I believe this mentality has largely been eliminated, at least hopefully so. Again I'm not saying this has any connection to NS/FGLK Corning, but the fact that a given line generates revenue has not always been relevant to how it is viewed.
  by lvrr325
 
BR&P wrote:
What would make sense would be a deal where Finger Lakes takes over the service,
Why would it make any sense for FGLK to run to Corning, when the cars are brought to them at Geneva now? .

It makes lots of sense for NS. They don't have to maintain 50 miles of track, pay taxes on 70 miles of track some of which they don't ever intend to use, keep crews qualified, and so forth.

Finger Lakes then gets more operational flexibility, control over when interchange comes into Geneva, and the potential for new business opportunities on another 70 miles of railroad. It's true it may cost them more up front, but they can do things like run excursions to cut into that to some extent. Plus, short lines generally have better luck getting funds from the state or feds to repair tracks, and depending how the ownership transfer is done it can be arranged so the property taxes are cut back or eliminated.

Perhaps that doesn't make sense to you, but anyone with any business experience will get it.
  by BR&P
 
Oh, I think I have a little business experience which provides insight here. :wink:

Your original point on the admittedly hypothetical operational change seemed to be it made sense for FGLK - which I disagree with. Now you say it makes sense for NS. The same factors I mention above - and which you echo - support that. Whoever owns and operates (and that does not have to be the same party in both cases) incurs crew, inspection, maintenance and overhead costs. Nobody WANTS to have to bear those costs. I would expect that once NS is convinced the power plant is truly dead, and that there are no other revenue sources apt to pop up, they would take a long hard look at why they would want to keep the line. And that WOULD make good business sense from their point of view. The most obvious benefit of the line now is the traffic NS gives to FGLK. NS would weigh the revenue they make on FGLK traffic against the costs they have for operating the line.

From FGLK's stance, I would think the only reasons they would want to take over the line would be 1) if they had some good solid expectations of locating a traffic source on the line, 2) if NS offered a larger share of the revenue "pie", enough so to make it worthwhile, or 3) if NS intended to abandon and FGLK wanted to preserve that connection (which of course they would.)

It's like a lot of other things - both companies have to constantly consider all their options, and must think of the future as well as the present. I can assure you that all involved are frequently saying "what if we did ____" - there are many, many things which get brought up, considered, and evaluated. I'd say most never come to be. But some do.

So I stand by what I said, based on that business experience you mention. At this point, absent some major factor us outsiders are not aware of, it makes little sense for FGLK to want to run to Corning.
  by poppyl
 
Matt Langworthy wrote:Poppyl, is NS seriously considering abandoning the Corning Secondary south of Geneva? If so, that's news to me. I can't see why NS would want to drop the FLGK when A. it generates a couple hundred cars in each direction per week, B. the number of scheduled trains increased in 2013 and C. NS worked on the track a year or two ago.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I'm just trying to figure out why NS would want to get rid of a branchline that generates revenue.

***edited due to typo***
Matt;
The direct answer to your question as of today is "No." Based upon casual observations, traffic diminished in the last six months of 2013 -- some of that may be seasonal but I don't know. The ROW work from a few years ago was in anticipation of heavier drags to Greenridge which never materialized (and will never materialize since the station, if it ever reopens, will be gas fired). That's a sunk cost that shouldn't figure in any forward looking analysis.

I agree with BR&P that if there is to be any change in the status quo, the first move should come from NS. IMO, local governments are not an option given the fiscal condition that at least Yates and Schuyler are in now.

Maybe this discussion warrants a thread separate from the FGLK thread since I believe that you could include the status of the Ithaca Secondary.

Poppyl
  by Matt Langworthy
 
BR&P wrote:Disclaimer - I have heard nothing to indicate NS wants to get rid of the line, and the following is general in nature and does NOT address this situation re FGLK and NS. But in many cases, railroads seem to apply standards other than normal business practice to their decision making. This was especially true in the time from the 1960s to....1990's maybe?

It can't be denied that at one time the railroads had too many people doing unneeded jobs, and had unproductive branch lines. It thus became the yardstick by which managers were measured, to see how much they could reduce costs in one or two areas - such as the number of crews, or how much overtime was worked. Never mind that those crews may have been needed, or the overtime helped get some work done. It was smoke and mirrors and only the specific parameters were measured. So the focus was not "does that line generate revenue", it was "how many crews can I cut if we get rid of that line."

I believe this mentality has largely been eliminated, at least hopefully so. Again I'm not saying this has any connection to NS/FGLK Corning, but the fact that a given line generates revenue has not always been relevant to how it is viewed.
poppyl wrote:Matt;
The direct answer to your question as of today is "No." Based upon casual observations, traffic diminished in the last six months of 2013 -- some of that may be seasonal but I don't know. The ROW work from a few years ago was in anticipation of heavier drags to Greenridge which never materialized (and will never materialize since the station, if it ever reopens, will be gas fired). That's a sunk cost that shouldn't figure in any forward looking analysis.
Gents, thank you for the insight. I learned a couple of things from you two today.
  by sd80mac
 
Matt Langworthy wrote:Other than interchange traffic, NS has no customers on the line north of Corning. Lidestri Foods moved from Dundee to Rochester a year or two ago, and the AES plant has closed down, too.

Since you said that NS H06(?) bring 50+ cars up to Geneva, then what is this train with about 5-7 cars that left ST, heading up north on Corning secondary last week Wed evening as DLW on 205 met this train at CP corning? where do this little train heading to?

Do this H06 with 50+ cars (daily or every other day?) have enough revenues to cover train crews, maintance on tracks and engines/cars, fuel, property taxes and other miscelleanous expenese?

I'm thinking that if NS see this... small ratio of revenues/expense... they could say... no customers to deal with on my line.. oh to hell with it. I can bring these 50+ cars to binghamton and hand over to NYSW. NYSW can do work for NS and hand these 50+ over to FLRR at solvay without ever touching CSX... NS might have better ratio of revenues/expense this way when they get rid of this corning secondary... As long as FLRR and NS agreed to maintain to recieve and send cars through NYSW for NS...
  by Matt Langworthy
 
sd80mac wrote:
Matt Langworthy wrote:Other than interchange traffic, NS has no customers on the line north of Corning. Lidestri Foods moved from Dundee to Rochester a year or two ago, and the AES plant has closed down, too.

Since you said that NS H06(?) bring 50+ cars up to Geneva, then what is this train with about 5-7 cars that left ST, heading up north on Corning secondary last week Wed evening as DLW on 205 met this train at CP corning? where do this little train heading to?

Do this H06 with 50+ cars (daily or every other day?) have enough revenues to cover train crews, maintance on tracks and engines/cars, fuel, property taxes and other miscelleanous expenese?.
The train length comes from my notes of H06, as observed from 2010 to 2013. Most of the runs had 50+ cars. There are some photos over at railfan.net to back my observations, too. Of course, train lengths can and do change based on the needs of FGLK customers.
  by malfunctjct
 
This would just be a suggestion before tempers really start to flare, wait for an STB filing. Until then, this is all rumor. I have heard 2 different stories and am not sure what to believe either. Remember, there will be ramifications to NS employees if the entire Corning Secondary goes to the FGLK.

On the subject of the Ithaca Secondary. There is still plenty of money to be made. Coal trains have still been running (not as many as before) and then add in all the salt.

Let's take a deep breath and wait a couple of weeks and see what happens.
  by sd80mac
 
Matt Langworthy wrote:The train length comes from my notes of H06, as observed from 2010 to 2013. Most of the runs had 50+ cars. There are some photos over at railfan.net to back my observations, too. Of course, train lengths can and do change based on the needs of FGLK customers.

Clarify... I am not questioning you about H06. I was asking what train was it that I saw? I would ASSUME that is NOT H06.... I am not familiar with locals coming out of Gang Mills.

thanks.
  by BR&P
 
malfunctjct wrote:This would just be a suggestion before tempers really start to flare, wait for an STB filing. Until then, this is all rumor. I have heard 2 different stories and am not sure what to believe either. Remember, there will be ramifications to NS employees if the entire Corning Secondary goes to the FGLK.

Let's take a deep breath and wait a couple of weeks and see what happens.
Who said anything about tempers flaring? This is a forum, for discussion, speculation, and sometimes polite disagreement. We've got mods who will step in if personal flaming arises. So far all I see is different opinions on various hypothetical situations. Someone would have to be pretty thin skinned to get upset at the mild comments we have on this thread so far.

We all know there is nothing official about the future of the NS line, either north of south of Geneva. But there are many different possibilities. What's the harm in playing "what if?"
  by poppyl
 
sd80mac wrote:
Matt Langworthy wrote:The train length comes from my notes of H06, as observed from 2010 to 2013. Most of the runs had 50+ cars. There are some photos over at railfan.net to back my observations, too. Of course, train lengths can and do change based on the needs of FGLK customers.

Clarify... I am not questioning you about H06. I was asking what train was it that I saw? I would ASSUME that is NOT H06.... I am not familiar with locals coming out of Gang Mills.

thanks.
There are two possibilities -- HO6 if the transmission that you were listening to was around 7 PM or the Gang Mills yard crew moving some cars over to the Baker Street yard. As far as I know, HO6 is the only NS traffic going north of Baker Street on the Secondary.
  by poppyl
 
malfunctjct wrote: Let's take a deep breath and wait a couple of weeks and see what happens.
Good advice, particularly since none of us can influence how this evolves.

Poppyl
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