• GATX Tank Train

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

  by ExCon90
Some years ago the GATX tank train moved regularly between Bakersfield and the Los Angeles Harbor area via the SP; then the movement ceased (for a reason I believe unrelated to the equipment); little or nothing has been heard of the Tank Train since then, and a search just now brought up nothing. In view of the growth of the movement of crude oil by rail, with a huge backlog of tank cars on order, does anyone know what became of the Tank Train concept? Was it a high-maintenance issue or what? It would seem that the Tank Train would be well suited to large-scale movements of crude oil.
  by rovetherr
It is still going strong here on the VTR. Our second largest customer uses them to move gasoline and fuel oil from the port in Albany, NY to their tank farm in Burlington, VT. The trains unload by pressurizing at one end, and pumping from the other. I would imagine this could be an issue with a thicker liquid, higher pressure might be required to unload the product, exceeding the system's design capacity. The Valero refinery in Quebec City still uses them as well, according to their web site. But it is for finished product, not crude. Maintenance wise, they seem to be no more intensive than other tank cars. Even with our short cycle time/high utilization model, the car sets don't have much down time.
  by ExCon90
Thanks for the reply -- so it's alive and well and taking daily exercise. Nice to know that the original concept worked out as designed. Makes me wonder even more whether the principle could be adapted for moving the Bakken oil. (I don't know what specific commodity was handled on the Bakersfield-Los Angeles move.)
  by Cowford
TankTrain's application is limited by three issues: 1. Manufacture and maintenance costs, 2. limited market opportunities, and 3. bad order complications (bad order one car and you've bad ordered a ~20-car string). The benefit: Quicker turn times/less labor at loading/unloading terminals. As the benefit comes at terminals, the cars are favored in short-haul captured service, where the cars turn quickly in a closed loop (like ALB-BUR). Special product handling infrastructure is needed at terminals, so the cars can't easily free run to/from any old facility. Crude doesn't fit well with the TT model as most crude is long-haul (most car time is on line-of-road and not terminals) and shippers need the flexibility to route cars to different origins/destinations.

To my knowledge, the only TT equipment built in the last 10-15 years was for mine-related acid service in Australia.
  by ExCon90
Thanks -- that seems to cover it. A few hours saved in terminal time aren't that significant when the transit time is measured in days.
  by rovetherr
We got three 15 car sets added to our fleet a few years ago, but I suspect that they were pulled from some other service instead of new construction, or conversion of older cars due to the work that our shop had to perform to get them road worthy. Our sets run in 7 or 8 car hitches, due to the space limitations at the terminal in BD.

I hadn't really thought about it, but the initial cost of the equipment is higher than a regular car, obviously. So unless one can maintain a rather aggressive load/empty cycle (48 hours for instance), the cost will be prohibitive.
  by karldotcom
]The Southern Pacific "Oil Cans" were discontinued over the Tehachapis when the pipeline connecting Bakersfield with Mojave was completed years ago. The same type of equipment now operates on the UP Coast Line between San Ardo, CA and Wilmington, CA

  by ExCon90
Thanks for the post; I had no idea they were still around.
  by John_Perkowski
Here in Kansas City, on the historic Q (BNSF into Murray Yard, NKC), I regularly see unit trains of petroleum products ... 100 cars with push/pull units and "NO REVENUE SERVICE" placarded covered hoppers.
  by mtuandrew
John_Perkowski wrote:Here in Kansas City, on the historic Q (BNSF into Murray Yard, NKC), I regularly see unit trains of petroleum products ... 100 cars with push/pull units and "NO REVENUE SERVICE" placarded covered hoppers.
I see unit trains pretty regularly too (on the BNSF Northern Transcon, whether BNSF or CP), but I think these cars are specific dedicated cars that are interconnected, for fast single-point loading and unloading. Can't say whether I've seen those in service off the Bakken or from Canada.
  by ExCon90
That's true -- the interconnection between cars is what distinguishes them. I think they can load and unload the entire train with one pipe connection, thus avoiding having to move the draft a few carlengths at a time or have multiple loading points.
  by John_Perkowski
Ok, I've never seen any of those around KC. Doesn't mean they aren't here, but not on the lines/ yards I see frequently.