R36 Combine Coach wrote:If there's one person or issue to blame on the downfall of LCL freight, it would probably be Eisenhower and the creation of the Interstate system in the late 1950s.
While truckers were always an option as highways improved through the 1940s and 1950s, I think the real competition-killer was the advent of commercial jet aviation. Jets took away the mail contracts from many railroads, and the LCL traffic soon followed. As the national network of agents shrank across the country (in other words, as passenger routes and depots were closed), a company like REA lost its built-in network and customer interface. Think of how much FedEx and UPS have invested in opening "retail" locations just so you have an agency to ship your package from? A new railroad LCL service would have to do the same.
I always thought it would be a natural for UPS to have locations at each staffed Amtrak station across America, but with fewer trains carrying baggage cars and the dismantling of the Amtrak Express system, I don't see how it could work. As much as we'd like to see "express" and LCL traffic return to the rails, I'm not sure there's an advantage to putting your shipment on the rails versus jetting it across the country? Plus, UPS and FedEx offer door-to-door or dock-to-dock service. How would you facilitate that kind of service on the rails today?
Railroads also maintained extensive warehousing and trucking operations at major hub cities to support LCL traffic. While merchandise LCL traffic may have been lucrative enough to offset these costs, could a railroad like CSX or BNSF offer such a service and still compete with ABF of the other LCL truckers?
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site
:: A Magazine I Read Often
:: A Museum I Volunteer At