• Opening Your own rail Business

  • 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 Engineer James
Is it profitable to open your own shortline any more?? Been contemplating it for a while...

What regulations are there reguarding shortlines?
Can Passengers be carried?

  by UPRR engineer
:-D .......... Open?........Or buy one? Good luck buddy.

  by tahawus84
If you were serious and had the money to start up/ buy a shortline you would not be asking questions like that here. besides arent you 14? whats to contemplate?

  by Aji-tater
Keep asking questions, read everything you can. Stay in school, get a good mastery of English and some decent basics in math. Stay away from drugs. If/when you are old enough, volunteer at a museum or tourist line. As your knowledge of business in general, and railroading in particular, grows you will learn a better understanding of how to evaluate business opportunities. Good luck.

  by Finch00
Don't forget college just in case

  by jg greenwood
tahawus84 wrote:If you were serious and had the money to start up/ buy a shortline you would not be asking questions like that here. besides arent you 14? whats to contemplate?
From the amount of posts he submits during school hours I'm beginning to understand his parent's having an "attitude." :wink:

  by Sir Ray
Here, you can start here (I know guys, I know, he doesn't have any capital to get business loans to buy an existing line)
Maybe contact them, possibly for a school project (dang if I know for what class - does Business Economics still exist in High School?). I'm sure our friend Railcarmover can give you a few stories of his own about the shortline business
As you may of guessed, running a short line involves lots and lots of work, worry, and pressure. Businesses that provide a significant portion of your traffic can close just like that, the current economy favors...well, lets not go there, just say it doesn't favor shortline operators.
I believe the great Class I 'transload scam' has cooled (Class Is would build transloads near former branches they sold as shortlines, and then try to have the shortline businesses truck to the Class I transload instead of directly shipping by rail via the shortline - Classly business ethnics, eh?)
but are your tracks 286K freight car capable - do you have government connections to get loans to get them up to speed. Speaking of speed, are the tracks in good enough shape to run a train at more than a crawl? What if the crew doesn't show to run that train. Will you turn to good ol' C&D loadings (indoor transfers only, please) - how about everyone's favorite = MSW (municipal solid waste - yep, trash) - while I thinks railing garbage out is a great solution, it will turn your neighbours into screaming little NIMBY babies (alas, while it will generate apoloxical fits in them, their heads will NOT explode, so you will still have to deal with them).
Are you ready? I think not, but... who knows, Jimmy Wilson can't live forever :P

  by charlie6017
If you want to run trains, then get yourself this: At the fraction of the real cost-I use it!

http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dl ... +Simulator
Last edited by charlie6017 on Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by Engineer James
JG.. Thanks....* Not Happy*

Ok... I have been dreaming of OPERATING my own shortline. Now, I have found an EX-Cape Cod S4 #1000 on sale on D.F. Barnheart &Assoc. for a while now. $25,000!!!

Just a dream... and yes, I WILL BECOME A LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER, hopefully for CSX or NS.

  by UPRR engineer
Well little buddy, if JG is right, and your not taking school serous you can forget ever hiring out in trainservice which means you'll never be running a train. Look around in the employment section of this website and see how hard it is to hire on. Quite a bit of schooling comes with a railroad job on a Class one dude, if you cant graduate high school no one is gonna want anything to do with you. Something to think about there James.

  by Aji-tater
OK, a little reality check. That ALCO has been for sale for years with no takers. But at about 120 tons and scrap above $200 a ton you won't get it for much less these days. So you buy it. It's got friction bearing trucks so you'll need to have those replaced with roller bearing trucks. I don't know about the ALCO trucks but I know one company was recently asking almost $20K for a RB EMD truck - so figure another $40 thou for the trucks. Plus freight to get them there. Plus a crane, or some guys with big jacks, to change them out.

No doubt the air brakes are all out of date so you'll need a thousand or two more to have them redone. If you're lucky, there will not be anything wrong with the couplers or safety appliances and maybe at this point it can actually be shipped by rail. I'm betting it would be another 5 grand or more to get it to Michigan where you are, maybe somebody with tariffs can verify that. Figure on a new set of batteries before it will start, that's several thousand more.

How's your math? Have you been adding? When you add in a stray thousand here and there, you are not too far short of a hundred thousand. You will need money to incorporate your railroad, and even if some county gives you a branch they obtained to operate, you will need to buy ties, tools, and supplies. OH NO!!!!! You went to fire it up and the fuel tank had dirt and sludge in it, now your injectors are all plugged! And why is there water running out from some broken pipe or other?

James, if you are smart you start to get the picture. It's OK to dream, and OK to work toward what you want to do. But it's a complicated expensive industry. Your best investment at this point is a good education and a good attitude. With both of those, you stand a chance of getting where you want to go.

  by tahawus84
Youll also need insurance which is not gonna be cheap

  by txbritt
You'll also want to be looking for spare parts for that S4, which by the way, have been out of production for 50 years or more. Good luck there - I'm playing hell trying to find injector pumps for the same engine (539).

By the way, you're getting all these sarcastic answers because you are ASKING for it. Are you a glutton for punishment type?


  by Engineer James
UPRR> Well, I am doing well. 3.8 Avg. I hope thats good enough.

Txbritt> Well, I was hoping not.

  by Aji-tater
James, if you are maintaining a 3.8 you are doing something right, keep it up. One other thing to think about and you may have already picked up on this from the various posts here by UPRRengineer, Golden Arm, and others. It's pretty obvious that those guys share your love for railroading. But if you notice there are a lot of negatives too, it's not all fun and romance. Yes, it IS a thrill to notch out the power and feel a long train come into motion behind you. But it's NOT a thrill to sit on that same seat for 12 hours. Those 567's or 645's DO sound neat when they notch up - but when you have put in even HALF a day you will be glad to get away from that %$#&! noise for a few minutes. Walking through a yard is fun even after years of doing it - but how much fun is it when it's pouring rain, you're between two cuts of cars and you have no choice but to walk through a big pile of rotting spilled grain which is turned to mush and stinks to high heaven and gets all over your boots and pants?

Also in terms of running your own short line. That too is very rewarding. But there is a downside actually many. The trains may be the cool part but there is all sorts of stuff like track work, locomotive maintenance, paperwork, government reports, accounting, that are just as important but far less romantic.

People have different outlooks and some enjoy railroading regardless of the hardship, BS and negative parts. Others LOVE railfanning but can't deal with the realities. Ask anybody who has been in the business a while and they will tell of guys who were diehard railfans, finally got a job and soon gave it up because it was not all fun. That's why it's critical to get a good education now - if railroading is for you it will help. If it's not and you decide to do something else that education will be even more important.