• Can we get the freight railroads to operate passenger trains again?

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by Gilbert B Norman
 
I'm simply at a loss to understand how this topic has become a "mini epic".

It's so simple; the roads signed that "Faustian Pact with the Devil" to get out of the financial drain, and from being there on A-Day, Charlie Schiffer, MILW's Treasurer, remarked what a Godsend that advance on May '71 operations from Amtrak was.

But the surviving roads, my MILW not being one of such, are strong enough they need not those advances to stay alive (I've heard reports that SP was in the same shape) and there is simply no way they will become involved in intercity passenger trains again.

Not some "Mixto Diario" arrangement; not any way.

So, young railfans, "get over it". If Amtrak is successful, using COVID as a guise, in being rid of the LD's by recognizing the marginal societal value they provide, more power to an agency recognizing what passenger rail transportation is needed, and simply what no longer is not.
  by Tadman
 
mtuandrew wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:06 pm Privatization advocates are betting that a “nimble” (underregulated) corporation with “motivated” (underpaid) employees and “efficient” (understaffed) operating structure would cost less to American taxpayers in the first few years than would continued Amtrak operation,
Dude this reads like an explanation out of Pravda or Granma and is complete bs. We have a number of very good real-world examples of the above being very good for workers and shareholders and customers.

Take Nucor and US Steel for example. Nucor has a $16b market cap, USS has 1.6b. Literally 10x better. Nucor is a 35 yo steelmaking operation while USS is 100+. USS has an annual revenue of about half of Nucor. Nucor has about 25k employees while USS has 29k employees.

What accounts for the difference? Why is Nucor so much better at providing returns? Do they starve their employees? Are they underregulated? How did Nucor figure out 10x returns in 1/3 time?

Nucor does not, in fact, starve their employees. They pay a base and a very handsome bonus when certain goals are reached. All employees have a spirit of hustle that is readily apparent to anybody that walks the floor of a Nucor mill. On any project, front-line employees work vigorously with suppliers and others to ensure things work on time and under budget. I have just spent the last two weeks in supplier approval meetings and they do not screw around, even the front line people. Not just management. Performance is the key word and every man and woman on the floor knows it and lives it with pride. It's like going to practice with a bunch of NBA players. They want to be there and they want to be the best. This leads to nimble decision making and motivated employees. It does not mean they are underregulated nor underpaid, in fact they are paid very well.

Contrast this with USS. You show up, you get a pay based on your seniority, it is what it is, nothing will change. You do not do anything outside of your narrow job function. People walk slowly with little sense of hustle. The company pays bills slower and on much longer terms. Being there is like going to work at the DMV. People are focused on the card game at break time and quitting time.

This is all first hand experience, not something I read in a text or Fox news.

Nimble and motivated mean you invest in your people and their systems as much as your equipment.
  by mtuandrew
 
I’d be very happy to see Amtrak invest as much in their people & systems as in their equipment 😛 and yes, there’s a degree of nimbleness that Amtrak will never have as a government-owned corporation. It could definitely do better, and that is a management issue more than a worker issue. (Also from firsthand industrial vs government experience.) Considering that private industry couldn’t compete and chose to let the government take over though, versus giving it a few more years to just discontinue with no strings attached, Amtrak is what we have.
  by David Benton
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Aug 10, 2020 8:27 am
mtuandrew wrote: Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:06 pm Privatization advocates are betting that a “nimble” (underregulated) corporation with “motivated” (underpaid) employees and “efficient” (understaffed) operating structure would cost less to American taxpayers in the first few years than would continued Amtrak operation,
Dude this reads like an explanation out of Pravda or Granma and is complete bs. We have a number of very good real-world examples of the above being very good for workers and shareholders and customers.

Take Nucor and US Steel for example. Nucor has a $16b market cap, USS has 1.6b. Literally 10x better. Nucor is a 35 yo steelmaking operation while USS is 100+. USS has an annual revenue of about half of Nucor. Nucor has about 25k employees while USS has 29k employees.

What accounts for the difference? Why is Nucor so much better at providing returns? Do they starve their employees? Are they underregulated? How did Nucor figure out 10x returns in 1/3 time?

Nucor does not, in fact, starve their employees. They pay a base and a very handsome bonus when certain goals are reached. All employees have a spirit of hustle that is readily apparent to anybody that walks the floor of a Nucor mill. On any project, front-line employees work vigorously with suppliers and others to ensure things work on time and under budget. I have just spent the last two weeks in supplier approval meetings and they do not screw around, even the front line people. Not just management. Performance is the key word and every man and woman on the floor knows it and lives it with pride. It's like going to practice with a bunch of NBA players. They want to be there and they want to be the best. This leads to nimble decision making and motivated employees. It does not mean they are underregulated nor underpaid, in fact they are paid very well.

Contrast this with USS. You show up, you get a pay based on your seniority, it is what it is, nothing will change. You do not do anything outside of your narrow job function. People walk slowly with little sense of hustle. The company pays bills slower and on much longer terms. Being there is like going to work at the DMV. People are focused on the card game at break time and quitting time.

This is all first hand experience, not something I read in a text or Fox news.

Nimble and motivated mean you invest in your people and their systems as much as your equipment.
Their market capitalisation has nothing to do with their Efficiency. The whole post has nothing that proves anything about efficiency. The only point to it I can see is to boast you spent 2 weeks there.
  by eolesen
 
Disagree strongly, David. The contrasts in the employee cultures between USS and Nucor shows them as polar opposites, and that higher level of employee engagement and empowerment is reflected in the higher revenue for Nucor. They get that it's not management's job to make the company successful - it's everyone's job.

Amtrak doesn't get that by any means.
  by David Benton
 
Still nothing to do with market capitalization , and nothing to do with railroads. Show us something that shows Freight railroad employees are more motivated than Amtrak employees , and it would be relevant. I don't see any point or relevance in arguing wether Nucor employees are more motivated than US steel employees, other than to validate Tad's observation.
  by mtuandrew
 
A good apples-to-apples comparison would be whether Brightline employees are happier and more productive than Amtrak’s own, and to make a cross-industry study. Keolis has a bad rep for its transit employees for instance, though I’m not sure whether that applies to its heavy rail folks; I’m told parts of the MTA have a lot of drama and relatively low morale, on the public side.

The corporate or agency efficiency is a larger issue, but contains this one.
  by Tadman
 
David Benton wrote: Mon Aug 10, 2020 8:41 pm
Their market capitalisation has nothing to do with their Efficiency. The whole post has nothing that proves anything about efficiency. The only point to it I can see is to boast you spent 2 weeks there.
Reading comprehension and critical thinking must not be your strong suit. You have 10% less employees, double sales, and 10x market cap. The market cap is a function of the entire market value of the share. The shares do not trade at that level unless the company has a very bright future and performs very well.

I've spent a lot more than two weeks in the mills, David. What is your experience with heavy industry? Make some points here with concrete evidence. Numbers, on-site time, etc...

Image

David Benton wrote:Still nothing to do with market capitalization , and nothing to do with railroads. Show us something that shows Freight railroad employees are more motivated than Amtrak employees , and it would be relevant. I don't see any point or relevance in arguing wether Nucor employees are more motivated than US steel employees, other than to validate Tad's observation.
What would convince you, David? Do we need to ask every employee? We've given you an MBA-level case study in how to motivate employees and shown you the financial results. The industries are similar in terms of physical rigor of work, hours, and exposure to elements. If you can't make some basic level connections perhaps we should send you some Thomas the Tank Engine books and come back in 20 years.

Or you're just being difficult because we've shown you numbers and proof.
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