• Home Yard?

  • 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 dave1905
Railroad cars pay per diem or car hire on cars they do not own on their own lines, whether they are loaded or empty. The payment is calculated in a combination of mileage or time. Privately owned cars (initials end in the letter "X") are generally charged by mileage, railroad owned cars are generally paid by time. In the older days the time was paid by the railroad that had the car at midnight. As railroads computerized and records became more automated they changed it to an hourly rate instead.

Private owner cars are routed per the owner/lessee's instructions and are usually reverse routed "home". to the owner or lessee. They generally may NOT be reloaded and are returned empty.
Specially equipped, assigned railroad owned cars are routed via the railroad's instructions. They are the railroad owned cars that may have the "when empty return to..." stenciled on it. They are generally specially equipped cars, not general service cars (plain boxcars, hoppers, gons and flats). They will generally be reverse routed. They are generally not reloaded and are returned empty.
General service cars (plain boxcars, hoppers, gons and flats) are routed back to the home road by and not necessarily reverse routed. They generally may be reloaded if the shipment goes towards or over the home road.
"Free runners" are cars that may be reloaded in any direction (IPD boxcars, RBOX, GONX).
TTX flats and auto racks may also be routed anywhere but individual railroads are assigned cars to use so they are kinda in a class by themselves.

The answer to you question is that private and assigned cars have a home "station" (doesn't have to be a yard per se) and other cars generally just go home and where they are sent once they get home depends on the needs of the railroad at the time. If Conrail gives an empty MP gon to the MP one trip, it might go to Kansas City one time and the next time the CR gives the car back to the MP it might go Texas. Just depends on where the MP needs that type of gon when they get it.

Ironically when I was in car control on the MP back in 1980, we had instructions not to assign MP gons to shipments going to CR, because CR was short of gons and if you sent them an MP gon they would keep it. The MP wanted to keep their own gons to protect their own loadings. Also we couldn't assign IPD boxcars to shipments going to Mexico because they wouldn't pay the IPD rates.
  by BAR
Freight car fleet statistics show the marked shift from railroad owned cars to privately owned cars.

Railroad 1,772,716 (87.3%)
Private 257,732 (12.7%)
Total 2,030,438
Railroad 431,037 (26.1%)
Private 1,243,574 (73.9%)
Total 1,674,611

* Interstate Commerce Commission
**Progressive Railroading