Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:15 pm

SALSDP35 wrote:
oibu wrote:All good points, but there is also the part of the equation that if Corporate actually WANTED to hire more than that, they could. They choose not to train and/or hire more. If they had a need for them, they could change it. BUt until NS decides to run a Class I instead of a regional-style railroad in the northeast, they won't hire those crews. At the end of the day, they are as cheap as the day is long, and seriously competing with CSX for northeastern traffic is something they have been pretty lackadaisical about. We'll see, but nothing much looks like it will change unless there is a culture shift at the top levels. I don't see the current skeleton staffing as something that prevents operating more or new trains or routes in the bigger picture- they *could* make that change in a few months if there were need and/or motivation to do so.

At least thanks to NYS funding, after 20 years of talking big, they finally did something at Portage. But all the new bridges in the world won't mean more trains if the railroad doesn't try to make it happen...


Really? The vast majority of the funding was NS. In fact, the State participation in Portageville was largely to help with the DEC and State Park issue. It gave them "skin in the game". A fact that has been confirmed and acknowledged by both NS and the State. The state funding was not what made this deal happen!

BTW, there are more trains on the west end. Fact of the mater is, until there is demand for the service, they won't be on the Delaware.


Trust me, the facts regarding the Tier have been explained to OIBU both here and on the NS Southern Tier/D&H page ad nauseum but he just won't believe them. Never mind the fact he doesn't live near the western Tier. Never mind the reports and photos of traffic on the Tier by railfans (myself included). Never mind the lectures he got from NS employees who actually work the Tier regarding train counts, car counts and the increased capacity of modern freight cars. OIBU's posts are a classic case of cognitive dissonance. While business on the western Tier is nowhere what it was during the EL years, it has grown slightly in recent years. The regular runs of W10 (which I've seen firsthand), I2K and I3K are proof that NS is trying to grow business on the Tier, whether he admits it nor not.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:23 pm

SALSDP35 wrote:CP? that is laughable. They only managed one train into Oak Island when they had the chance and lost money (a lot of money) on that one. The NYS&W was free do develop the market and never managed more than a handful.

So just where would the business come from? Where do you and OIBU obtain your perspective on NS's marketing efforts and missed opportunities to make the statements that you make?


Foamers often claim CP or NYSW would have been a better owner of the Tier than NS or CR. I don't think CP or NYSW would have generated any more traffic than is there now, and the line likely would have been put on the chopping block by EHH when he was running CP. NS has the advantage of better connections to the Midwest (i.e. Bellevue and Elkhart) so they at least have the potential to grow more traffic.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:29 pm

SecaucusJunction wrote:The fact remains that NS wants to run the same amount, or slightly more overall traffic with fewer actual trains.


The policy may disappoint railfans, but it makes good business sense. Why spend money on extra locomotives and crews when they aren't needed? Indeed, an NS employee openly stated on the NS Southern Tier/D&H page that NS 205 and 206 were combined into NS 22K, 23K, 28N and/or 287 as an accounting move.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SALSDP35 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:06 pm

Matt Langworthy wrote:
SALSDP35 wrote:CP? that is laughable. They only managed one train into Oak Island when they had the chance and lost money (a lot of money) on that one. The NYS&W was free do develop the market and never managed more than a handful.

So just where would the business come from? Where do you and OIBU obtain your perspective on NS's marketing efforts and missed opportunities to make the statements that you make?


Foamers often claim CP or NYSW would have been a better owner of the Tier than NS or CR. I don't think CP or NYSW would have generated any more traffic than is there now, and the line likely would have been put on the chopping block by EHH when he was running CP. NS has the advantage of better connections to the Midwest (i.e. Bellevue and Elkhart) so they at least have the potential to grow more traffic.


Walter Rich himself told me that the NYS&W had little to no real-estate to develop in Northern New Jersey. If you do a survey by car, ride the line or even use Google earth, you can clearly see what he was talking about. The company's large holding of land (the Little Ferry yard) was leased and later sold to Sea Land/CSX. Resources is small with little to no land to expand.

So where would the traffic originate or terminate in New Jersey. Are you going to run an Multi Level Train with no terminal? Van trains? Maybe a train or two a day into Resources but I doubt they would have been much more lucrative that the short lived CP Rail 260/261 pair. Where else was all this traffic coming from?

This is the same issue the D&H faced post 1976. It had a great map on paper but it didn't have access to any customers.
Last edited by SALSDP35 on Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SALSDP35 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:08 pm

SecaucusJunction wrote:The fact remains that NS wants to run the same amount, or slightly more overall traffic with fewer actual trains.



Well yeah...
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:29 pm

SALSDP35 wrote:Walter Rich himself told me that the NYS&W had little to no real-estate to develop in Northern New Jersey. If you do a survey by car, ride the line or even use Google earth, you can clearly see what he was talking about. The company's large holding of land (the Little Ferry yard) was leased and later sold to Sea Land/CSX. Resources is small with little to no land to expand.


I took a business trip in 2010 that included northeastern NJ. There is indeed very little land to develop. The same gentrification/residential development issues that plague other areas are even worse in that corner of NJ. Even if NYSW miraculously acquired a parcel there, the NIMBYs would fight a new intermodal terminal tooth and nail. Ditto for CP/D&H.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:04 pm

I'm not going to get into it with the NS foam-heads on here again, they can live in their la la land all day for all I care.

So I will say nothing more than this.

- NS did nothing at Portage until NYS chimed in that they would fund somewhere around 25-30% or thereabouts. 15+ years (1999-2014) is a long time to sit on your thumb and talk but do jack squat until someone gives you the money.

- Not counting the last year or so under deadbeat Harrison, CSX has been cleaning NS' clock on traffic in the northeast (i.e., territory/markets served by NS and CSX north of Harrisburg) for quite some time. I'm not interested in an anecdote about the big train someone saw someplace one time. The traffic comparison is readily out there for anyone willing to look. If one doesn't care to look, it's not my job to try to make them see what they choose not to have eyes to see. Foam it up all you wish, no matter to me. Talk about the realities of traffic and operations, that's fine.... but save the stories of how "somebody saw 47 200 car trains go by in 2 hours once, so I'm sure it's like that every day".

I watch trains on both NS and CSX- including the western tier, for he who never fails to jump at the chance to say "NS IS THE BEST EVER!!!!!!! You just don't know because you haven't seen it" any time I make a comment about how NS just might not be the "most perfect shining railroad on the hill" that some might anoint it to be. Buddy, I've seen it. And a lot of other things too. I have the photos to prove it was busier. I don't do too much with it lately because I saw it in better times, and it kinda sucks now to spend all day just waiting around and hoping to see 4 trains where you used to see double that. That's all I need, not some vague online argument about how there " just must be more now"....

I'm not going to entertain any more twisted gumby logic here, I tried that last time and all I heard after giving detailed relevant information over and over was someone repeatedly making baseless unsupported denials or asking "but why???" every time. Sorry, not playing.

That's all, hope we all hope get some more traffic again someday. Nothing more to say on that, have a nice day everyone.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SALSDP35 » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:32 am

oibu wrote:I'm not going to get into it with the NS foam-heads on here again, they can live in their la la land all day for all I care.

So I will say nothing more than this.

- NS did nothing at Portage until NYS chimed in that they would fund somewhere around 25-30% or thereabouts. 15+ years (1999-2014) is a long time to sit on your thumb and talk but do jack squat until someone gives you the money.

- Not counting the last year or so under deadbeat Harrison, CSX has been cleaning NS' clock on traffic in the northeast (i.e., territory/markets served by NS and CSX north of Harrisburg) for quite some time. I'm not interested in an anecdote about the big train someone saw someplace one time. The traffic comparison is readily out there for anyone willing to look. If one doesn't care to look, it's not my job to try to make them see what they choose not to have eyes to see. Foam it up all you wish, no matter to me. Talk about the realities of traffic and operations, that's fine.... but save the stories of how "somebody saw 47 200 car trains go by in 2 hours once, so I'm sure it's like that every day".

I watch trains on both NS and CSX- including the western tier, for he who never fails to jump at the chance to say "NS IS THE BEST EVER!!!!!!! You just don't know because you haven't seen it" any time I make a comment about how NS just might not be the "most perfect shining railroad on the hill" that some might anoint it to be. Buddy, I've seen it. And a lot of other things too. I have the photos to prove it was busier. I don't do too much with it lately because I saw it in better times, and it kinda sucks now to spend all day just waiting around and hoping to see 4 trains where you used to see double that. That's all I need, not some vague online argument about how there " just must be more now"....

I'm not going to entertain any more twisted gumby logic here, I tried that last time and all I heard after giving detailed relevant information over and over was someone repeatedly making baseless unsupported denials or asking "but why???" every time. Sorry, not playing.

That's all, hope we all hope get some more traffic again someday. Nothing more to say on that, have a nice day everyone.


Nice try. None of this can be backed up with fact. Still, some are just not happy unless they are unhappy. I am sure 25 trains a day on the Tier would not be sufficient. But then again, who am I to stand in your way of your pursuit of unhappiness.

I have read you endless rants about CSX's "cleaning NS's clock". The facts don't back that up. CSX has declined from about 52 trains a day on the NYC to about 37. To do this, the have nearly closed the ex B&O to anything but Baltimore/Philadelphia and Chambersburg intermodal. Not a very impressive showing. Line side observations are rarely a good measurement of what is going on. Frankly, to me, watching Anheuser Bush cars bound for Williamsburg, VA on a CSX train in western NY is depressing not impressive. All that and the train counts are still down.

When CSX and NS were splitting up Conrail, Pete Carpenter clearly pulled in more traffic to completive points than NS. He did that by cutting the rates to a point the made it unattractive to NS to undercut them once again. While this may be impressive to a rail fan, I found this to be pretty shallow. Like it or not, it contributed to CSX's subsequent fixation on OR as they had a great deal of traffic that was moving at rates that were inadequate. CSX was working VERY HARD for little money. The decline in CSX's business has been taking place ever since.

Your assessment of the Portage bridge situation is laughable. Obviously you have no first hand knowledge of the process that NS was involved in that dates clear back to 1997 (yes even before they had title to the line)! It is not like some aspects of this haven't been point out by countless people in many different fashions. None of this fit's your agenda so I am sure you will come back with yet another post of "Why NS sucks" nonsense to make sure you can feel bad about the state of affairs on the Tier.

I offer the following to others who might read this, as I know this will have no effect on you, since it does not fit into your agenda. Yes the state contributed some funding to the Portage project. On the other hand, given that this project carried some New York State requirements, including but not limited to the fact it was built in a State Park, the NYSDOT funds didn't really do much more than offset those cost. Both NS and NYS DOT have acknowledged that the state involvement was all but mandatory to get this project done within a state park. The last bridge was built before the land was owned by the state.

Is NS the best ever? Who knows. It is however the best the Tier is going to get. Realization of that fact is not going to change you because it's obvious that you have an agenda. Understanding the reality of the situation, and the realization that it's a business - not a Hollywood Production - keeps me interested in whatever comes to the line.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby ricebrianrice » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:37 am

Guess what????

I am happy it is not a trail by now, and the NYSW runs a couple trains a week on it!

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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:30 pm

oibu wrote:I'm not going to get into it with the NS foam-heads on here again, they can live in their la la land all day for all I care.

I didn't know upstate NY is la la land.

oibu wrote:So I will say nothing more than this..


Is that a promise? Lol

oibu wrote: - NS did nothing at Portage until NYS chimed in that they would fund somewhere around 25-30% or thereabouts. 15+ years (1999-2014) is a long time to sit on your thumb and talk but do jack squat until someone gives you the money.


Have you attended NS board meetings or even department meetings? If so, I’d love to see the minutes or even a memo submitted afterward pertaining to the Letchworth bridge.

oibu wrote:- Not counting the last year or so under deadbeat Harrison, CSX has been cleaning NS' clock on traffic in the northeast (i.e., territory/markets served by NS and CSX north of Harrisburg) for quite some time. I'm not interested in an anecdote about the big train someone saw someplace one time. The traffic comparison is readily out there for anyone willing to look. If one doesn't care to look, it's not my job to try to make them see what they choose not to have eyes to see. Foam it up all you wish, no matter to me. Talk about the realities of traffic and operations, that's fine.... but save the stories of how "somebody saw 47 200 car trains go by in 2 hours once, so I'm sure it's like that every day".


Nobody here or on the NS Tier/D&H page has made any such claim about traffic levels. I do have eyes that see and photos to back up my claims… which can be seen on my FB page, Flickr (still in progress), railfan.net, jreb.org and (for now) Photobucket. Do you consider the NS employees who work on the Tier to not be honest when they lecture you about traffic? I had more than a few chuckles when they debunked your talking points on FB.

oibu wrote:I watch trains on both NS and CSX- including the western tier


You live a considerable distance from the western Tier so your claim is dubious. And speaking of anecdotes, a visit to the western Tier once or twice a year doesn’t give an accurate picture of the traffic there.
oibu wrote:I watch trains on both NS and CSX- including the western tier, for he who never fails to jump at the chance to say "NS IS THE BEST EVER!!!!!!!


Nobody has made that claim. Your statement is a lie.

oibu wrote:IBuddy, I've seen it. And a lot of other things too. I have the photos to prove it was busier. I don't do too much with it lately because I saw it in better times, and it kinda sucks now to spend all day just waiting around and hoping to see 4 trains where you used to see double that.


A foamer worries about train counts. Anyone who stakes the time to study the RRIng industry understands concepts like a more efficient operation which combines traffic into few and bigger trains. FYI- NS and other RRs haul freight to make a profit. They don’t exist for to entertain you or any other foamer. You’ll have to excuse me for lacking sympathy about your sorry day trackside.

If you want to obsess about decreased train counts, the drop in coals trains on the Tier from 6 to 2 has nothing to do with NS. Federal and state regulations combined with the cheap cost of freaked natural gas are the reasons for declining coal traffic. I have yet to see a post from you on that subject.

One more thing- I used to have lunch with Sargent Wise (RIP) about once or twice per week. Some of you reading this post may recall Sarge was the attorney for the LA&L and (from 1996 onward) the B&H. He felt NS getting the Tier was the best possible outcome of the Conrail split for both of his shortlines. Given SALSDP35's information regarding CR's plan to gut the Tier, I can really understand now why Sarge was happy about the line getting a new owner.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:31 pm

ricebrianrice wrote:Guess what????

I am happy it is not a trail by now, and the NYSW runs a couple trains a week on it!


The alternative would've been bad for the rail industry and shippers, as well as railfans like us.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SecaucusJunction » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:57 pm

Here we go...

To be fair, NS had no choice but to replace the bridge. It was literally falling apart and way past it's useful life span. There was no alternative no matter who paid for it.

Again, to say NS has done a good job drumming up business on the line would be setting pretty low standards. 20 years and 8 trains per day, some of which ran the Buffalo Line before takeover. It's not just this line. The Crescent Corridor has been a disaster and they cleared a whole bunch of tunnels in the mid-Atlantic for hardly any traffic.

Has CSX been good in that time period? Of course not. They're just as bad if not worse. (And Philadelphia intermodal traffic is routed via Selkirk, always has been). It seems that every line in the East has seen sad declines. We can make excuses all we want for the railroads, but the truth is times are changing and they haven't adapted. It's not any different than any other business. To keep numbers good, they slash costs and head counts instead of focusing on sustained growth. It is what it is, it will never change. Railroads will again be ill prepared if one part of their business tanks. If my company ran that way, investors would have our heads.

Without further competition, the railroads have no urgency to do anything different. Decades from now, we'll be looking back at these times as the Golden years as the slow decline in traffic will continue for the foreseeable future.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SALSDP35 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:28 am

SecaucusJunction wrote:Here we go...

To be fair, NS had no choice but to replace the bridge. It was literally falling apart and way past it's useful life span. There was no alternative no matter who paid for it.

Again, to say NS has done a good job drumming up business on the line would be setting pretty low standards. 20 years and 8 trains per day, some of which ran the Buffalo Line before takeover. It's not just this line. The Crescent Corridor has been a disaster and they cleared a whole bunch of tunnels in the mid-Atlantic for hardly any traffic.

Has CSX been good in that time period? Of course not. They're just as bad if not worse. (And Philadelphia intermodal traffic is routed via Selkirk, always has been). It seems that every line in the East has seen sad declines. We can make excuses all we want for the railroads, but the truth is times are changing and they haven't adapted. It's not any different than any other business. To keep numbers good, they slash costs and head counts instead of focusing on sustained growth. It is what it is, it will never change. Railroads will again be ill prepared if one part of their business tanks. If my company ran that way, investors would have our heads.

Without further competition, the railroads have no urgency to do anything different. Decades from now, we'll be looking back at these times as the Golden years as the slow decline in traffic will continue for the foreseeable future.


NS had one other option. Sell or close the line vs. building the bridge.

Actually, there is much to agree with in your post. I don't think any railroad is doing a good job at marketing. The last "innovation" from an equipment standpoint was the stack car. This was developed by the SP as a means of cutting cost by shortening train length - not to innovate and create a new business model! Truth of the matter is, it took a steam ship line (APL) to see the potential of running dedicated trains similar to a ship (fixed number of container positions/fixed "sailing" schedules) to create the stack train "boom"!

The last marketing innovation was Mike Haverty getting together with JB Hunt himself. Together they saw the wisdom of combining the cheap line haul capability of a railroad with the superior retail aspects of a trucking company. This resulted in a huge expansion of intermodal.

Both of these were handed to the railroads. They are terrible about marketing. Some worse that others. With respect to NS and the Tier, drumming up business in New York State frankly is a near impossibility. Few of the companies that were large shippers in the EL days remain and some of the few that are along the tier had their sidings removed by Conrail. The business unfriendly environment in the state is not going to attract any volume of rail. The biggest increase in local business is because of natural gas fracking and development in PA.

As I have said elsewhere, the vast majority of the world does not understand railroading. The railroads think they do. When a plant manager asks "what is the transit time from point A to B"? and you say 14 days. He says "ok then I can plan around 14 days". They live in a world of production rates and can live with most numbers if they are consistent. When you have to tell him "well not so fast. They might do it in 8 but it might be 30". The next thing he says is "you have to be kidding! We have to maintain extra inventory because the railroads can't even work within a 4 or 5 day window?" Trucks generally can hit a target 4 or 5 hours (or less) even if they come clear across country! No wonder EVERY plant manager I work with HATES RAILROADS!

Railroads make themselves more irrelevant every day. The relentless pursuit of the OR means that they are ill equipped to develop any kind of service that will keep them relevant. The only kind of traffic that will be available to them is of the bottom feeder variety.

(Side note - When I lived in the Pittsburgh area, the B&O/early CSX ran the Philadelphia Trailer Jet. I do not have any involvement with that market, thus I did not know that this traffic had shifted to a Selkirk Routing if shipped via CSX. This is amazingly bad. It must do wonders for transit time and it's expensive to run a train across Conrail Shared Assets and pay those fees. Wow!)
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:13 pm

The Class 1s can be competent at moving large blocks of freight, when they want to be. Obviously, shareholder and/or board pressures for a higher OR can affect that service. On the other hand, Class 1s are lousy at local service, mostly because they are inflexible. I've heard horror stories of plant managers asking for a switch on a Tuesday, but the Class 1 would respond with the standard "our local runs on Monday-Wednesday-Friday only" reply. This is nothing new- Conrail was infamous for the practice 30+ years ago. All the Class 1s are guilty of poor local service to a certain extent, some more than others. Thus the trucking industry has made inroads into traffic that would be cheaper to ship by rail. The shortlines and regional RRs are much better for local service, but even they are at the mercy of the Class 1s. For example, FGLK lost sand business after NS imposed a 16% rate increase a few years back. (See, I can criticize NS!) However, the lost business hasn't gotten to a point where it hurts the bottom line and the status quo for poor local service will remain until it does.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:45 pm

Matt, I -*VERY SPECIFICALLY*- said I'm not talking about the slacker Harrison era.

Please try to keep the lid on it. No one much is listening, and I am not engaging. Sorry. No dice.

You are totally welcome to whatever opinion you wish, and if I talk about the subject it will be about the actual traffic that moves. Nothing more, nothing less. Your "pro-NS, anti OIBU" vendetta is bordering on "obsessive" or "creeper" here. I made my first post here in probably months, and guess who immediately had to chime in in response? The comments I made had absolutely nothing to do with Matt, yet he felt compelled to try to start the flame war all over again.

I will continue to use this board to talk about relevant topics as I do or don't see fit or wish to do so, but I am not going to endlessly engage or address repeated attempts to provoke pointless circular argument. It always goes the same way any time I suggest that NS is less than stellar here.

End of this game is long past due. Hopefully that is clear and we don't need any moderator intervention. I am certainly not going to be the one to push for that. I already specifically stated I am saying nothing more on the subject and not engaging this game, yet you still very obviously tried to get me to do so yet again. You couldn't even just make a general statement about choosing to disagree. You felt compelled to quote me, point by point, and make your responses for each one in an attempt to bait me into engaging. Even after I said I was not engaging and wasn't saying anything more on the subject. Which I still am not and will not.

You'll notice I am not even talking about it here. I am just pointing out for the record that I already said I was done talking about it and will not be hoodwinked into engaging in further discussion with you about it. Also let it be known that it is unnacceptable to be called a "liar" by someone who as a habit uses little more than vague broad generalities to support their counter-arguments in their repeated squabbling and repeated attempts to stir the pot. In the past I have talked about specifics of train counts, car counts, car capacity, traffic routings, history, employment levels, etc. ad nauseum, and then this individual comes along and makes a few general statements about "profitability" or what some alleged facebook friend said to him and tries to call me a liar based on that alone.

Henceforth, let it be clear I will not be responding to or addressing any further posts from this individual. Enough already, let's keep it civil, and just let it go...

For everyone else, let's move on and talk about trains.
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