KSmitty wrote:Portland is 110 miles to Ayer, the haul is too short for rail to compete with truck, if the goal is to handle empty trailers from MA to ME and then reload the outbound trailers in ME. Waterville, an extra 90 miles up, is far enough from Ayer to give a 200 mile corridor, thats about the bare minimum for an intermodal service to be successful. Seriously, suggesting a 110 mile IM corridor? Name 1 other corridor that short that works! The shortest I can think of is a Jacksonville-Miami route at 350 miles, a similar situation with most loads inbound. I even question Waterville as a viable option for repositioning empties. Its too short a haul.
The whole plan is nonsense.
Mill traffic outbound makes more sense from Waterville. Its more central to the mills, and already has the facilities. It might mean an empty dray of trailers up 95 to the mills, and an equally empty haul of flats to Waterville, but Portland is commuting distance to Boston, same market, they would be competing against themselves.
Gees, if you're going to shoot make sure you aim the rifle away from yourself! The "whole plan is nonsense", but you're OK with running empties on the road parallel to the baretables running on PAR? Do you think that makes sense?
FEC can't be compared to ME for CSX or NS, apples and oranges. FEC is about loads in and empties out, while ME for CSX and NS is a load from the west or south into southern New England, empty repo to Maine's paper industry, paper load back out west or south. So as I wrote before, intermodal is not just about rail (miles in the case you've made) but about the interplay of trucking, rail and terminal costs and service. Before, during and after the most recent use for the Waterville intermodal terminal, handling Conrail/CSX traffic, trucks have been used off MA ramps to triangulate a delivery, empty repo and then pick up the paper load because it is cost competitive with better service (and lead to the closing of Waterville). To Engineer Spike's point, it's a highly imbalanced situation --- into the 5 New England states but out of ME, with 1-2 loads in for every 10 out for ME in these western/southern lanes.
So, my pont is to first take a ME intermodal ramp for CSX and NS with a grain of salt, but also my belief, given a number of reasons, that IF a PAR intermodal terminal were opened in ME to serve CSX and/or NS, it would be located in the Portland-area or south. First, siting a ME intermodal ramp, because of the situation, is not necessarily only about proximity to the mills but also very possibly those places the inbound loads are going and, second, because ME intermodal for CSX or NS is an offshoot of Ayer and Worcester, the operations/capacity of a potential ME terminal are effectively a subpart of Ayer and Worcester's operations and capacity, and, therefore (get this!) dependent upon whatever is going on with Ayer and Worcester. Portland/south allows you to build a balanced rail opration without the need to rail empties PLUS maintain the same trucking cost structure and add capacity to Ayer or Worcester (Waterville uses up capacity in Worcester and/or Ayer). Plus, you have to ask whether this intermodal business could justify the investments necessary to get north of Portland up to 25, if that's the case, and recognize, too, that there's the very small start with Eimskip there.
Lastly, railroads are rumor mills and intermodal is a very nuanced business that many in the ranks, certainly reflected here in these forums, don't understand. And, even if you were close to solid sources at PAR who are dealing directly with the outside parties for something like this, you're still a few degrees of seperation from the folks who are doing the analyses and making the decisions as to whether this will happen. The play-by-play of this situation as it has been represented in posts sounds like hyperbole: first it's crews, then they're firing up the packers, but, whoops, we're 5 hours too slow north of Portland, but, they were very close to making this happen but now it's not imminent. Hard to imagine the reality of this is the reality portrayed.