• LCL freight service today

  • 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 v8interceptor
ExCon90 wrote:
David Benton wrote:i would say this kind of traffic belongs on one railroad , Amtrak .
Amtrak tried that, and it seems that what mostly happened was they increased their costs and delayed their passenger trains adding and dropping freight cars. Movement of LCL traffic today requires through movement between intermodal terminals several hundred miles apart on schedules suited to shippers' requirements, independently of passsenger-train requirements. Traditionally, the type of shipments we are talking about were freight; they moved on freight rates in freight trains, as distinguished from express, which moved at higher rates in passenger trains, or, when volume justified it, in exclusive mail-and-express trains at passenger-train speeds. The "LCL" shipments of today are gathered and distributed over the road and move between intermodal terminals by rail. "Back in the day" the gathering and distribution were done on local freight trains, and those days aren't coming back.
I also recall reading that back in the Mid to late 90's when Amtrak was working to expand Express parcel/package service that encountered some major pushback from the big freight railroads who pointed out that Amtrak was using the Class 1's own tracks to compete with them and their LCL carrier customers. At one point during that time Amtrak proposed a whole new network of what would have been "Mixed trains" made up mostly of material handling cars..
  by 2nd trick op
I think a case could be made that Amtrak's experimentation could be likened to the "premium" serices like B&O's TimeSaver and Sentinel, PRR's Keystone and NYC's Pacemaker that were tried out back around 1950. These services were advertised as a cut above regular LCL from the beginning, but for whatever reason, it never seemed to have much success in establishing an identity of its own. C&O tried offering an early version of RoadRailer handled in some passenger moves back in the late 50's, and Rio Grande and Consolidated Freightways tried offering overnight Plan I TOFC in a last-ditch attempt to save its Denver-Salt Lake City Prospector in the early 60's.

But for whatever reason(s), the services mentioned never succedded in differentiating themselves to a degree necessary to justify the cost of special handling.
  by QB 52.32
Regarding Amtrak, IIRC, most of their success with express business and the subsequent pushback as they planned a big expansion involved hauling US Mail. Amtrak succeeded in handling plenty of palletized and "unitized" smaller shipments of first and second class mail in express cars during the '80's. This was a service not offered by the freight roads. But, once they planned upon an expansion during the '90's offering full truckload service via roadrailers was when the freight carriers objected because US Mail moving by the truckload in intermodal trailers and containers is a big business for the Class 1's. For example, at that time Conrail was moving close to 100,000 annual mail loads for the USPS making them one of their top 10 customers.