Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SecaucusJunction » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:37 am

You're right about that. Even the western half of the line has fewer trains now than it did under Conrail. I don't even think the PRR side has advanced.

There is no quick growth with NS (or any other railroads) that would require more trains on their lines. RIght now the trend is to squeeze all traffic onto consolidated trains and make them 250+ cars long.

The only thing that could have a prayer of shocking the system would be if the big ships bring a lot more containers to port, but even then, the railroads might just tell them to put the traffic on the highways.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:24 pm

Part of the issue is the loss of manifest traffic as the Northeastern industrial base continues to erode. That aspect is well beyond the ability of either NS or CSX to control. There is new intermodal traffic coming to the Northeast, but it will be handled via Pan Am in New England. This could be a boon for the Tier west of Binghamton. Although I've learned to never say never, the east end of The Tier probably won't redevelop into a major route.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:26 pm

Another issue is the loss of coal traffic, which is also unlikely to change... regardless of the party controlling Washington DC.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SecaucusJunction » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:31 pm

Same tune every year since 1999. Traffic is coming from the South, West, East etc. never happens. I'll believe it when I see it. With all the talk in the past, there are still fewer trains than 1999
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby rr503 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:36 pm

Matt Langworthy wrote:Part of the issue is the loss of manifest traffic as the Northeastern industrial base continues to erode. That aspect is well beyond the ability of either NS or CSX to control. There is new intermodal traffic coming to the Northeast, but it will be handled via Pan Am in New England. This could be a boon for the Tier west of Binghamton. Although I've learned to never say never, the east end of The Tier probably won't redevelop into a major route.



Manufacturing base is actually surprisingly stable these days. In NJ at least, employment growth is flat (better than down) and construction is zooming skywards. PANAMAX expansion should precipitate more port related industries (free trade helping for once) p, and E commerce is also generating much need for warehouse services and intermodal, so I wouldn't be so quick to write the region off...

Take a gander

https://www.bls.gov/regions/new-york-ne ... ey.htm#eag
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:37 pm

We'll see what if anything happens with Panamax.

But as far as inland ports, how many years ago was it now that there was gonna be a Buffalo inland port, served by NS, with IM trains on the Tier? So far, I don't see them going by... via the Tier or anyplace else...
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:35 am

rr503 wrote:
Matt Langworthy wrote:Part of the issue is the loss of manifest traffic as the Northeastern industrial base continues to erode. That aspect is well beyond the ability of either NS or CSX to control. There is new intermodal traffic coming to the Northeast, but it will be handled via Pan Am in New England. This could be a boon for the Tier west of Binghamton. Although I've learned to never say never, the east end of The Tier probably won't redevelop into a major route.



Manufacturing base is actually surprisingly stable these days. In NJ at least, employment growth is flat (better than down) and construction is zooming skywards. PANAMAX expansion should precipitate more port related industries (free trade helping for once) p, and E commerce is also generating much need for warehouse services and intermodal, so I wouldn't be so quick to write the region off...

Take a gander

https://www.bls.gov/regions/new-york-ne ... ey.htm#eag


The construction jobs are not for new manufacturing. They are primarily building residential and commercial structures. Manufacturing jobs continue to decline in NY, with Kodak among their ranks

The new port facilities in the Northeast and Nova Scotia might foster new intermodal traffic, but will have no effect on manifest traffic.

Speaking of free trade, it should be noted that NS made their promises at the height of the '90s boom economy. The tech bubble had created alot of demand for jobs and partially masked the effects of various free trade agreements. The jobless recovery of the mid '00s was due in part to the closure of the factories in the Northeast. Norfolk Southern's outlook for traffic in NY was naive rather than deliberately deceptive, IMO.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SecaucusJunction » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:54 am

Well its all in the past, but I don't really buy the whole booming economy thing. They've had nearly 2 decades and they haven't accomplished one bit of what they said... and they are still not headed toward it

Those might have been goals that were never carried out (they've had a lot of them). They sound good in the planning stage and they make the whole transaction sound rosy, but operations never intended to carry it out.

It's done and over. We can see what we have with these railroads. They are happy with status quo (if we're lucky). With no more competition on the horizon, things won't change.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:26 am

I'm pretty sure at this point it was all just line after line of BS spoon-fed by NS management. First to get NYS to sign off on the Conrail merger. Then later to get NYS to sign off on all of the tax breaks by making it sound like NYS actually stood to win or lose anything one way or the other, when NS had no intent to do anything differently either way but hoped to save a bunch of cash.

I would also about guarantee that NYS only funded the bridge work (after years of telling NS to go pound, after they finally realized (10 years too late) that NS was getting everything it wanted and giving nothing back to NY) because they were funding projects for railroads that actually serve NY (i.e., CSX), and some Southern Tier politicians probably started squawking about how the rest of the state was getting rail improvement funding, but not them.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:25 pm

Tax breaks? Aside from Letchworth bridge, NS has only received one other tax break from the state of NY, IIRC. Both NS and CSX were being taxed 50% higher than other properties in the state of NY, so the 2 Class 1s convinced Albany (via threat of lawsuit) to tax their ROWs at the same rate as other businesses. NS didn't get a PILOT program or anything like that. And considering the tax breaks Conrail got for the former EL in NY, complaining about another RR doing the same thing is hypocritical.

As far as serving NYS goes, NS may very well be serving more local customers than CSX if one looks at the combined direct service to customers and interchange with shortlines. Among other things, NS has won an award from AAR for their collaboration with CSX for the Nucor/Vulcraft traffic. What kind of awards has CSX won? And I'm talking about the pre-EHH CSX which had had competent management. The LA&L has shifted most of their interchange traffic over to NS due to CSX's reliability. If the Tier had been removed, then alot more shippers would be screwed right now.

The east end of the Tier is what it is now. Nobody is getting hurt by the current state of operations, so I fail to see the need for whining about what isn't running there.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:59 pm

SecaucusJunction wrote:It's done and over. We can see what we have with these railroads. They are happy with status quo (if we're lucky). With no more competition on the horizon, things won't change.


Truth be told, there's more Class 1 competition now than there was 20 years ago in upstate NY. The D&H/CP/NYSW trackage rights 1976-1999 were a mere token offering.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:30 am

The whole east end is a giant tax deal.

Then there's the across-the-board tax deal on top of that.

Then NS still had the stones to beg NYS for bridge money.

Despite providing less service than ever.

Despite using the east end as a strawman to stifle competition, even though they don't seem to want it, because they couldn't stomach having someone else play hardball where they wanted to play powder-puff (and probably having bought the D&H for the same reason, to strategically wipe out the ability of anyone else to compete in NS territory. There too, 2 years in, and NS isn't moving anything substantially beyond what the drastically retrenched, slash-and-burn Pershing/EHH regime was doing).

And in almost 20 years of talk, never did a d&mn thing about Portage until the state finally kicked in the cash. And probably never would have if the state hadn't.

Sorry, but I'm just not enough of a foamer to look past it all... at the end of the day I still judge a railroad by the same standards I would apply to the operations, actions, and value system of any other business.

Any way you look at it, I don't think anyone could deny that at least one or the other is true: that they've either lied through their teeth the whole time, or completely failed in meeting their stated objectives (if they had in fact actually ever been the "objectives"). Personally, at this point I'll watch NS simply for the purposes of enjoying, recording, or paying homage to history... but if NS filed for Chapter 11 or got bought out tomorrow, I would say "good riddance!" And that's saying something, considering pre-CR split and through the early 2000s I was actually an NS fan (based in part on the tight ship they ran on their own railroad, as well as the belief that they actually intended to substantially follow through on their stated claims and/or objectives in former CR territory). But gradually I realized NS was starting to make a giant sucking sound in the northeast, and meanwhile the tables were getting turned by CSX, especially after John Snow left (of course now EHH is running CSX into the ground just like he did at CP, so NYS might be left with not one but two failed Class I's- but that's a whole other topic, and I don't judge a company one way or the other by whatever misery Harrison brings during his pillaging raids- he is his own independent, mercenary, destructive entity).

But if someone still enjoys watching the couple of remaining west end trains that's all perfectly well and fine, as far as that goes! :-)

I'd love to be proven wrong and at some point find that there is in fact some long-term vision at NS and completion of the bridge is the key to making things happen ... but frankly the fact that NS waited so long to do it, and even then only did it because they got a check from the State, seems to unfortunately indicate pretty loudly that none of this is a priority to anyone in NS upper management.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby johnpbarlow » Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:44 am

Cost of the new Portage Viaduct is estimated at $70M with NYS contributing about $15.5M and NS funding $55.5M.

Other factoids re: NS investment in RR properties in NYS in the past 2 years:
- Bought D&H south lines from CP in 2015 for $214.5M
- Rehabbed D&H south lines main line track (ties, interlocking turnouts, grade crossings, rail, etc) from Sunbury to Schenectady over the past two years (MoW track gang is doing more work south from CP-385 this week)
- Performed more track work on the Tier to sustain 50 mph MAS
- NS is currently performing a month long track rehab project on yard tracks at East Binghamton (one NS employee said last time yard maintenance work was done was 30+ years ago!)
- NS is currently replacing a highway overpass and a creek bridge at Attica NY

Traffic on the Tier seems to be up lately with several occurrences of 205/206 intermodals running from/to Mechanicville in addition to the normal 8 daily road freights. A handful of frac sand unit trains get delivered to NYS&W each month.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:56 am

Well, FWIW CP did a major rehab and significant reconfiguration of Binghamton yard so that employee was at best exaggerating by about a decade. Was still in good shape too, at least aside from any recent Harrison-era neglect in the last few years.

Is the track in Binghamton (former CR main tracks) still completely a wreck like it was a year ago when I last saw it?
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SecaucusJunction » Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:21 pm

If we think NS maintaining track and paying for part of a new bridge that the state wouldn't fully subsidize equates to them really doing a good job in NY, were setting the bar pretty low. The fact remains that traffic is still below Conrail levels on all lines when they promised to take trucks off the highways (to get the blessing for the merger). There are more trucks on the highways of NY than ever and the railroads are continually losing market share up there.
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