• Intermodal to Maine

  • Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.
Guilford Rail System changed its name to Pan Am Railways in 2006. Discussion relating to the current operations of the Boston & Maine, the Maine Central, and the Springfield Terminal railroads (as well as the Delaware & Hudson while it was under Guilford control until 1988). Official site can be found here: PANAMRAILWAYS.COM.

Moderator: MEC407

  by Engineer Spike
 
Smitty makes some good points. The parallel to FEC is a good one, and I was thinking of posting the same thing. The 200ish miles from Ayer is not so much an issue. How about not just Waterville, but northern ME? That vast area is certainly past the legal drive time from Mass. Even the distance between Mechanicville and Ayer is less than 200 miles.

One needs to look at the volume of freight available, and its destination to get a feel for the validity of such a market. Let's not get trapped into thinking that 100% of the inbound trailers/containers would be empty. Although Maine is rural, the people living there want the same goods as everyone else. If most of the distribution centers are in the Ayer/Worcester area, it is a good hike to get the goods to Maine by road. Good rail service might make companies look for a savings based on distributing goods from a central point there, vs. trucking everything up from Mass.

A Maine based intermodal terminal would give Canadian businesses more options too. The wild card now is what success Fortress will have with MMA. The eastern provences are now captive to CN.
  by tonyschul
 
I think there are a couple of other factors here that are being overlooked.

You are thinking about a 200 mile drive that you think you can make in 4 to 5 hours. As you move down towards Haverhill on 495, the speed drops to 10 MPH for the next 50 miles, at least for 6 hours of the day. Traffic is awful, and there is no way around it. The trucks have to move at off hours.

The second part of the problem is drivers. I think that part of the reason that the intermodal out of Ayer has improved so much is that they can't get drivers. Not only does it take training to get qualified over the road, many folks do not want to spend 2 to 4 nights a week away from home. And the pay is not all that good either.

And now that I think of it, you need tomaintain a larger tractor fleet to handle the work. Remove them from your freight pool and you save on cost and maintenance.

In the end, the RR can provide a more cost effective service even if it is slow. This is not time sensitive freight.

Just some thoughts.............
  by QB 52.32
 
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.
  by markhb
 
What was the point of the Waterville intermodal ramp (which is still bannered on Exit 130 on I-95) when it was first built? Was it ever used regularly, and for how long?
  by Engineer Spike
 
Earlier I found a Railway Age from a few months ago. It had an article which was a Q&A with Mr. Moorman. He said that they are not looking at distances between intemodal terminals, but where potential growth is, and what the line haul is from the potential customers.

I totally agree that the stars need to align the make this THE answer to dissuade shippers away from straight motor transport, or even Ayer/Worcester rail-motor to ME. On the other hand, no business was ever attempted without someone sticking their neck out. Again someone, likely Mr. McClellan took the risk to try and break CSX's Conrail legacy monopoly on New England intermodal traffic.

Time will tell what the marketing, then the bean counters at NS, or CSX decide to do about this. We are all speculating. There have been many pros and coins for ME intermodal, in this discussion. I'll leave you with one thought. As many of you know, I work for the D&H. When I started in 2000, I was on the Ayer pigs many times. I remember having a trip with only 1 that's ONE car. Even without the auto traffic, it would likely still be 2 trains today. I have had 10,000' trains many times before it got split.
  by newpylong
 
And I will go one step further and say when I started on Guilford, a few years after ENGR Spike discussed, our MOAYs off of his RR were one engine and only a handful of cars. Now they are 3 big GE's and sometimes two miles of train each direction.
  by Backshophoss
 
The only way to get trailers and containers off I-95 is price and reliable delivery to a ramp in the area the load delivers to,
ie:the Intermodel train from Waterville to Chicago arrives the 3rd day at 06:00,trailer avaible by 10:00.(for example)
What is NS/PAS/PAR showing as transit time from Waterville to Chicago? and Chicago-Waterville(EB) and when trailer is
avaible for delivery?
This is what UPS,Fed-X Freight,Schneider National,and JB Hunt use to throw trailers on the rail instead of solo/team drivers.
  by CPF363
 
The discussions on this thread have focused on just intermodal to Maine, but how about beyond that. The entire Maritime provinces are east of there with a significant market in Saint John, NB and two big Nova Scotia based ports in Haifax and Sydney. Of course, this is entails considerably more track repairs and investment to make this service work all of the way to Mattawamkeag. One has to gather that Fortress will be looking to capture as much of this business as they can over the MM&A. The question is whether it is worth it for Pan Am to invest in through intermodal service that would connect NS and CSX intermodal routes to the Maritimes market.
  by QB 52.32
 
Engineer Spike wrote:Earlier I found a Railway Age from a few months ago. It had an article which was a Q&A with Mr. Moorman. He said that they are not looking at distances between intemodal terminals, but where potential growth is, and what the line haul is from the potential customers.

I totally agree that the stars need to align the make this THE answer to dissuade shippers away from straight motor transport, or even Ayer/Worcester rail-motor to ME. On the other hand, no business was ever attempted without someone sticking their neck out. Again someone, likely Mr. McClellan took the risk to try and break CSX's Conrail legacy monopoly on New England intermodal traffic.

Time will tell what the marketing, then the bean counters at NS, or CSX decide to do about this. We are all speculating. There have been many pros and coins for ME intermodal, in this discussion. I'll leave you with one thought. As many of you know, I work for the D&H. When I started in 2000, I was on the Ayer pigs many times. I remember having a trip with only 1 that's ONE car. Even without the auto traffic, it would likely still be 2 trains today. I have had 10,000' trains many times before it got split.
Railroads are an old network business, and in that regard the B&M/PAR/PAS route is the NKP/N&W/NS network's (competing with the NYC/PC/CR/CSX network) access into the New England market. What NS has done is more about the rising tide of railroad intermodal consequent with marketing freedom, refinements in the business to make it much more efficient, the decision of the big truckload players to use rail for linehaul coming out of the early 1990's, and, the decision of J.B. Hunt to award NS with the bulk of their Eastern intermodal traffic, than about taking risks. It's really a no-brainer for NS to have bolstered their network into New England: New England is 1 of the longest intermodal hauls in the East resulting in good financials and a necessary offering in the deal with Hunt. And, even by doing so, CSX isn't hurting one bit.
  by KSmitty
 
QB 52.32-
I don't see a repositioning move, the case you made, from southern New England to Maine working out. And that was my point, albeit poorly worded. But there is a business, for trailers coming into New England. As you said "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." Empties are coming into New England, to feed Maine mills. This is where the success of Waterville/IM lies. A successful marketing and operations plan, linking Chicago, or even something like Buffalo or Cleveland or D.C. with Waterville. Bringing paper out of Maine and empties back into Maine. In this case Waterville has a clear advantage, its as far north/east as you can go and still cover the major mills in Maine without significant backhaul of loads east, and if you are catering almost exclusively to the paper industry it is ALL ABOUT PROXIMITY. It could easily pick up business from Madison and Lincoln which both truck 100% of outbound product. It is far enough from Ayer that if Lincoln were to move its IM operation from Ayer to Waterville its trucking crews could go from 1 roundtrip (if that) in an 8 hour shift to 2 or maybe 3.

And that was what I was trying to point out in my previous post, unloading a load at Worcester, trucking to unload, back to Worcester and rail to Maine takes up much needed space at Worcester, and is way to short a haul for the pricing to be competitive. But a longer haul, contracted with one of the corporate truck companies that serves a mill (Lincoln is a prime example) to move the loads from Maine and the empties back is a much more valid service, one where Waterville is a valid solution, much more so than something south of Portland where truck crews time savings would be less than needed to double efficiency.

Eimskip is also a different animal, in that it is hardly conventional intermodal. It is going to be inconsistent as Portland plays host to only 1 ship at a time. It also has less traditional destinations, notably Plainville, but mostly New England or Northeast, making it less than ideal for traditional intermodal lanes. In terms of where to locate a Maine IM terminal Eimskip is really a non-player, and in the confines of Portland's facilities unlikely ever to be...
  by Cowford
 
Smitty, so what is it that the trucker does with the boxes he brought into Worcester that are now empty?
  by KSmitty
 
Cowford wrote:Smitty, so what is it that the trucker does with the boxes he brought into Worcester that are now empty?
Same thing he'd do right now. Haul to Maine or back from where he came from empty. Why would that change? Backhaul is an unfortunate but needed part of transportation.
  by gokeefe
 
KSmitty wrote:In terms of where to locate a Maine IM terminal Eimskip is really a non-player, and in the confines of Portland's facilities unlikely ever to be...
Although I think generally the above is obvious I'm not absoutely completely sold on the idea that Eimskip's service will forever be a "niche" movement. They could grow and if they do there are options with rail connections in the area. Turner's Island comes to mind among several options in South Portland. Although it seems certain that the Maine Marine Terminal can never grow much beyond what it is right now I think we could see some future changes if the Maine Department of Transportation decided that they wanted to build a bigger marine terminal in South Portland and sold the Portland facility.
  by newpylong
 
The only thing Eimskip is going to be doing is leaving Portland if they don't get their spur soon.
  by gokeefe
 
newpylong wrote:The only thing Eimskip is going to be doing is leaving Portland if they don't get their spur soon.
As others have mentioned, given the election season I would be surprised if they don't have it by the end of the year. I'm sure MDOT is quite serious about this.
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