Is the Alameda Corridor in Trouble?

There are reports that the Alameda Corridor, the heavily used, 20-mile-long, grade-separated railroad intermodal corridor connecting the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach with the BNSF and Union Pacific main lines, has been seeing year-over-year maritime container volume drops, with a resulting decrease in rail traffic. The Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) oversees the corridor, which was built through a public/private partnership (PPP) and opened in 2002. One outlook is that perhaps “if current trends continue, ACTA will experience significant cash flow deficits beginning in 2024 … growing in size out toward 2038.”

Report: Vertex Railcar Owes Nearly $45.4MM reports that CRRC Yangtze Co. Ltd., owner of 22% of Vertex, claims nearly all of the $45.4 million in debt listed in the petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Two other Chinese companies—Wuhan Kemai Machinery Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Wuhan Flying Free Logistics Co. Ltd.—list debts of $92,561 and $373,273, respectively.

Railroad KPIs Suggest Continuing Weakness

KPIs are shorthand for linked Key Performance Indicators. Not all railroad industry KPIs are internalized data. In fact, the best KPIs come from non-railroad sources. Internal railroad data is important. But its value appears when cross-checked with other sources. Here, the prime research source is the Association of American Railroads (AAR) monthly report card.

Assessing LNG-By-Rail Safety

Safety is important. Yet, we can do safety research and development a lot faster. It’s timely to ask why the regulatory process takes so long. Today in transport logistics, our society seems to lack a sense of urgency. As one example, it now takes regulatory agencies (and non-regulatory bodies like the National Transportation Safety Board) as long as 18 to 24 months to complete an accident investigation report. Why so long? It’s a mystery.

PSR: How Conrail Showed the Way

Before CN or CSX rolled out Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) under the leadership of the late E. Hunter Harrison, a much smaller terminal railroad company in the eastern U.S. was demonstrating aggressive cost reduction. It was Consolidated Railroad Corporation (Conrail).

CSX Uncovers Trip Plan Compliance

CSX is taking a bold transparency move. In releasing its Trip Plan Compliance performance information, it is also at the early stages of disclosing how poor logistics delivery to customers has been in the past. But, to correct and improve, it is necessary to admit the depth of the service challenge. That’s a good thing.

Railroad Traffic Analysis, A Different Approach

It’s third-quarter 2019 railroad financial results reporting time, and sometimes, insight about rail freight markets comes from strange places. One of those might just be the quarterly report by J.B. Hunt (JBHT). The Hunt logistics company is one of the largest U.S. intermodal rail organizers. It essentially buys contracted intermodal train service from railroad companies like BNSF and Norfolk Southern.

Short Lines: Custom, High-Growth Freight Service

Are short lines offering a better customer experience than Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR)? The Class I railroad business seems to be all about the benefits of PSR. That’s the name of a cost minimization business strategy introduced more than a decade ago at CN, now expanding as the service model at five of the other six large North American railroad companies (Norfolk Southern, CSX, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern and Canadian Pacific). Class I’s annually earn more than a Federal Railroad Administration-set threshold of $500 million in revenues.

What PSR Is—and Isn’t: NEARS Talk

Out of a remote location in a corner of New England comes an interesting operations research view of what Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) is, and is not. Peter Swan, a Ph.D rail and logistics expert from the Penn State School of Business Administration, spoke Oct. 3 at the NEARS (Northeast Association of Rail Shippers) Fall 2019 Conference in Burlington, Vt.

What’s the 2020 Outlook for Railroad Capital Expenditures?

As you read this market view, the planning for year 2020 railroad capital work is well under way.