RailKevin wrote:Here's an opportunity for an enterprising person to start a new short line operation. You only need one locomotive. No runaround moves necessary to serve the box shop, either. Just pick up the occasional car or two near ridge road and bring them back when done. This turn key operation practically runs itself!
Sounds great, sign me up!
Let's see.....what do they get, maybe 2 cars a week? Let's call it 3. So ballpark 160 cars a year. No idea what CSX would allow for a switching charge but plug in $300 a car, and you're making $48,000 a year! Not too shabby.
Of course we'll need insurance. I'm a bit out of the loop on what things currently go for, but $8,000 would be a reasonable figure for openers. Now with locos going for pretty hefty prices, maybe we should rent instead of buying. Say we get a good deal, and they only charge per day of use instead of monthly. Two trips a week, say $125 a day, that's $13,000 a year. No sweat, we still have $27,000 to play with.
Those boxcars have a car hire fee. Sometimes the Class I will allow free time, sometimes not. Let's say Harrison has CSX pinching pennies and we have to pay. Car hire is all over the map but for budgeting say $1.00 an hour. If the cars stay on line 2 days that's $48, let's say $50 a car, or $8,000 a year. Hmmmm, that brings us down to $19,000.
Hey, just realized we have McCall Road and Dewey Ave with active crossing protection - gates and flashers. That means an RG&E power feed for each one. And it means the FRA requires monthly, quarterly, annual, and other inspections and tests. Probably will have to find a signal guy to moonlight - let's say $100 a crossing a month for him, plus the power, assorted stuff that needs replacement, and occasional damage by a vandal. $4,000 for signals a year is probably close enough at the moment. Well, $15,000 for a fun railroad isn't bad.
Loco fuel - really rough guess 1 gallon a mile, 4 mile round trip, 400 miles a year, $2.50 a gallon, there's a grand.
Man, I plumb forgot about track!!!! Feds say you have to inspect it once a week. The actual inspection you might be able to do by walking - IF you are a qualified track inspector under the regs - but you'll probably need a truck somehow for tools etc. Might even get by without a hirail but you still have to factor in gas, insurance, cost of the truck, cost of the tools, cost of any ties, bolts, etc. Or maybe pay a contractor to do it. Who wants to throw a number on that? Just for fun call it $5,000, and we're down to $9,000. This isn't going to be such a gravy train after all.
Of course the regs also require all sorts of training and certification for engineers, conductors, we'll need a drug and alcohol program on file, and most likely we'll have to be paying somebody to do all this. There's lots of assorted stuff I have not mentioned but if we say $5,000 for all the other stuff related to that, plus a little cushion for the unexpected, we should have $4,000 left to pay the train crew - say 100 trips a year, 2 men....that's $20 each to make the run. That's not much more than Burger King, but we can enjoy the fun of it and just barely break even. Assuming we can park the engine inside Folding Box. Oh wait, I forgot they only have one track and it's not inside!
What? I forgot WHAT? TAXES???? As in property taxes? You mean we gotta pay the .gov? Sheesh...and I bet we'll also need an accountant to prepare annual corporate income taxes too! Look at that - we have not even turned a wheel and we're losing money already!
(the above is an over-simplified glance at the headaches and heartaches involved. There are more items which I didn't bother to list. You can play around for yourself with more here, less there, but bottom line is it ain't gonna fly. But it's fun thinking about it!)