Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby johnpbarlow » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:05 am

oibu wrote: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?


Not sure where in Binghamton you are referring to but on the ex-Erie west of QD at Chenango St, main 2 is the most frequently used track for eb and wb trains to/from the D&H (north and south) with main 1 used as a wb secondary track. As a consequence, main 2 is all CWR with decent ties and ballast while main 1 still has a fair amount of stick rail but on new ties/ballast. The parallel Johnson runner, restricted speed track used by many but not all trains operating between East Binghamton yard and the Tier, is still all jointed rail and could use some rehab. West of CP-217 at Johnson City, the single track main is pristine (and far better than it was in the EL days!).

Don't know if you're a Facebook user but the NS D&H South and Southern Tier lines FB page has a ton of Binghamton area photos:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/dandhsouthline/photos/
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:10 am

Last I saw them, both mains 1 & 2 BD-Johnson would have had crews stopping at Rite Aid for Dramamine before each trip!

I can see the runner being like that, since it's all restricted running anyway, but for main tracks it's pretty poor. Maybe CR had it looking like that in 1978, but not anytime I can remember since then. But, D&H and CR also would have normalized main track switches rather than leaving them open. I guess there's no need to maintain the track when every train has to run restricted looking out for and re-lining reversed manual switches that were left behind by the last train anyway....
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:32 pm

SecaucusJunction wrote: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


You're confusing train counts with tonnage. I had a discussion during the summer with a foamer who said NS has the same trafic levels between Binghamton and Buffalo now as LV did between Sayre and Buffalo in the 1970s. His concern regarding NS dropped considerably when I reminded him that LV was typically pulling 50-75 car trains 6000-6750 HP (a trio of C420s, GP38-2s or U23Bs) while NS normally has 100+ car road freights pulled by 8000-13000+ HP (2 or 3 widecabs), with the freight cars having heavier loads now. That's part of the reason NS is replacing bridges at Letchworth and Attica alike. The extra tractive effort in modern locomotives allowed NS to combine the traffic 38T/39T into 310/309 after the D&H acquisition. The traffic is still there- it just moves differently than it did in the past.

Conrail only had a handful of road freights running east of Bingo in 1999. NS moved them to alternate routes after the CR split because they had the capacity to do so, and farmed out the local work to NYSW. BTW, they've also done the same thing with the Lehigh Railway for local work, and the traffic level are up on that line.

Nobody posting in this forum, myself included, sits in NS's upper management meetings... so we do not know what their plans were or are for the east end of the Tier. Maybe they'll add a few trains after Letchworth is finished or maybe they won't. Let's not forget NS will also have to address the bottleneck at CP Draw at some point. Given the overall condition of the NS's physical plant in comparison to CSX, I am inclined to give NS the benefit of the doubt regarding the Tier.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:34 pm

Surpassing the LV west end traffic volume from the 70s is hardly a big deal LOL!

That was not exactly a major player, really even at any point in history but especially by the late pre-CR era.

Even with some higher capacity cars, 6 or so 100 car trains are not carrying the tonnage that 12 or so did a few years back. Capacities have not doubled, the capacity gains in the last 20-30 years (which is going back a decade beyond the NS era, so some of those gains were already realized by then) total are only perhaps a 25% per-car increase across perhaps at most 50% of the total car fleet. At most you might be running at around a 15% net gain in average capacity per car across the fleet. Even at 25% more tonnage per train, 50% fewer trains would still yield over 35% net loss compared with 20 years ago. Which is merely to say, they said they were going to do much more, and even using a pretty optimistic estimate of tonnage and adding in some extra margin, they may now have around 65-70% of what there was before they started.

And even that is ignoring any shift from carload to intermodal percentages, which would actually yield a net decrease in actual tonnage per car. 100 cars of TOFC/COFC would probably be doing well to equate to 50 cars of manifest freight. I'm not going to make any major claims based on that, but it merits consideration, if one is talking about actual traffic tonnage or volume changes over time, that carloads of apples are not carloads of oranges.

I used to give NS the benefit of the doubt too, but 20 years of waiting and not much has changed. That's a long time for nothing good to happen.

How many symbols did NS allegedly have proposed and scheduled for the Tier in 1999? So far, none of those have ever existed and even on the west end the total movements are down at least 50% compared with the early 90s. Either way you look at it, it's down from what it was, and in 20 years they haven't made visible progress towards their alleged plans.

Believe me, I'd love to be optimistic here, but the railroad also has to provide at least some level of cooperation to that end.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:19 am

You're missing the point. Trailers and even containers were being hauled in 1970s, although COFC wasn't double stacked yet. Foamers are screaming about lower train counts when the Class 1s are finding ways to run fewer but longer trains. Why should NS or CSX run additional trains needlessly? NS ran 22K and 23K as primarily single stack trains when they were extended past Buffalo. They began adding stacks from 205 and 206 to other trains about a year ago, which allowed them to reduce the train count on the Tier (although 205, 206, I2K and I3K can run east of Buffalo).

Moving over to the east of the Tier, I didn't see any specific symbols promised when NS took over the line from CR. They spoke of possible increases, but nothing concrete. Given the challenges at Letchworth and CP Draw, I don't blame NS for running the trains on other lines when they can.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:40 am

The point is there is less tonnage, less traffic, than there was. And that NS had " big plans" none of which have happened. And as far as TOFC/COFC, you reference their existence in the '70s. Yes, as perhaps 2-4 total out of 15-20 scheduled trains, and a few random cars mixed into manifest freights. Perhaps 20% of total carloads in the 70s were TOFC/COFC. Now they are the majority. I was referencing comparison of the '90s with today. If you want to take that discussion back to the '70s, the traffic comparison/decline would be far, far worse. EL probably was moving 3x as many trains as NS, at only slightly lower tonnage per train, AND the LV that was referenced previously still was in use as a through route with perhaps 2-3 additional pairs of trains through the region.... I'm only talking about the past 20 years, nevermind how much less traffic there is compared with another 20-30 years before that! Yes, there were some low points in the early 1980s before the stacks etc. but they only lasted a few years, not a few decades.

It would take a lot of revisionist history to suggest that NS never claimed they would do more. Somewhere I have printed out, I believe straight off the NS website ca 1998, their proposed freight schedule. It would have had something like 6-8 new trains across the whole Tier, and that was in addition to what they already had AND on top of what NYS&W and CP had. Yes, some of NYS&W's traffic was CSX's so it would leave post-merger, but there still were more trains and more traffic in existence then, AND NS was claiming they had plans for much more. Everyone was excited about what NS said they were going to do. They were going to rebuild everything, add trains, grow traffic, etc. etc. And not just on the west end. 20 years later, the one thing on that list that is actually happening is a bridge (finally, thanks to NYS money being kicked in).

Now there is less traffic (by any measure- number of trains, number of carloads, or tonnage), and no plans have taken shape 20 years later. At least as far as my comments have been concerned, those are the only points...
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:44 am

oibu wrote:The whole east end is a giant tax deal.

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


Got links? I did a Google search and couldn't find any specific deals for the east end of the Tier, and the only across the board deal I'm aware of is the one where NS and CSX had their property taxes adjusted so they pay the same rate as other businesses, rather than more. Over taxation hurt every owner of the Tier going back to the late Erie RR era. An equitable tax rate for the ROW makes good sense IMO.

oibu wrote: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.


Nope! That's not the reason NS bought the D&H. NS wanted a secure connection to New England. They wanted to ensure track speeds stayed up to par so they could compete in the east-west haul with CSX.

From http://www.rtands.com a year ago:

This past year saw NS hire 166 new employees, including 140 former D&H employees with experience working the corridor. NS also installed 90,000 new crossties, resurfaced 84 miles of track and made improvements to New York's Belden Tunnel to improve safety and service on the line.


Does that sound like a RR with only marginal interest in the region? I don't think so! Obviously, NS does have other routes between the Great Lakes and the East Coast, but they do seem committed to NY.

The D&H has rather limited value as a north-south corridor, especially with CSX having a parallel corridor and other connections to NYSW.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:39 pm

East of port sold to MN, NS is free to use. Port-BIng leased to CNYK with a huge tax deal. NS can still use it anytime it chooses too. Anyone familiar with this line knows this, it happened way back in 2004! Info is readily available on any local news or rail-related media. So, huge tax cuts, free access, and with NYS&W's local status and political connections, state-funded track maintenance and upgrades. You can't seriously believe NS didn't think of any of these things and it's all just a happy coincidence that they have the same access to the route but now it is tax- and maintenance-free?

AS far as your employment numbers, I saw that PR release too. It is not a big deal, just a pat on the back for maintaining status quo. EVen "best case" using your numbers, NS has added 26 new hires. That would be assuming zero retirements, no buyouts, no former D&H employees left, and no cuts were made in the transfer of former Gang Mills functions to Binghamton. All of which is a lot of assumptions being made just to hold on to zero net loss, nerver mind the rosiest possible scenario of at most a total of 2 dozen new hires.

Like I said, if you're happy with the status quo that's fine. I'd just like to see things get better, or at least not worse.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:00 pm

Status quo is the same thing as not worse. lol

I do recall that the Port at Bingo got some funding... but a one tine subsidy is not the same thing as a long term tax break.

Oh BTW, nobody's talked about the 800 pound gorilla in the room- Metro North has priority on the TIer east of Port Jervis. Given the growing commuter traffic on that segment of the line, it made sense of NS to move the 3 road freights off the Tier, Furthermore, the combined DL&W/CNJ/LV route between Bingo and Allentown also has the added benefit of connecting to the former CNJ hump yard at Allentown. The Tier connects to Croxton, which is a flat yard and thus not as sueful for classification.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SecaucusJunction » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:24 pm

Remember Conrail ran the Buffalo to Allentown traffic over the Buffalo Line, so if you take out the 36T and 37T trains, traffic is way down. (They also ran a second pair of Buffalo to Harrisburg trains on that route that are gone.

It doesn't seem like NS has much interest in the D&H south of Binghamton at all. The only reason they were forced to buy it is to run their Mechanicville trains north and East of there.

Trackwork is done every year east of Binghamton too, but it doesn't mean there are any more trains there. There is really no 800 pound gorilla. If NS wanted to run trains over MTA, they could. By the exact words of the lease, MTA gets priority during rush hours only. There is nothing NJT, MTA or anyone else could do to stop them.

Facts are facts. NS and CSX said they had plans to take 1 million trucks per year off the road if the STB approved the merger. I think we're closer to negative 1 million.
I think it may be possible that NJ Transit might not be the perfect, infallible organization that most people assume it is.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby SecaucusJunction » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:42 pm

Remember Conrail ran the Buffalo to Allentown traffic over the Buffalo Line, so if you take out the 36T and 37T trains, traffic is way down. (They also ran a second pair of Buffalo to Harrisburg trains on that route that are gone.

It doesn't seem like NS has much interest in the D&H south of Binghamton at all. The only reason they were forced to buy it is to run their Mechanicville trains north and East of there.

Trackwork is done every year east of Binghamton too, but it doesn't mean there are any more trains there. There is really no 800 pound gorilla. If NS wanted to run trains over MTA, they could. By the exact words of the lease, MTA gets priority during rush hours only. There is nothing NJT, MTA or anyone else could do to stop them.

Facts are facts. NS and CSX said they had plans to take 1 million trucks per year off the road if the STB approved the merger. I think we're closer to negative 1 million.
I think it may be possible that NJ Transit might not be the perfect, infallible organization that most people assume it is.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:47 pm

Secaucus, I think we both know the number of facts anyone presents isn't going to matter.

But yes, that is even a whole other part of the equation if we start looking at former Buffalo Line traffic and former ALCG/CGAL traffic and so on... it's fair enough to leave the Lehigh out of the discussion since R&N took over the middle of that route ca. 1996 so that traffic was already gone or rerouted pre-NS, but for sure much of the former Buffalo line traffic is part of the same total traffic "pie" that was still extant in the days leading up to NS and would represent at least one additional train each way that is not running now. The local traffic/WNYP/B&P/etc. aspect still exists, but the through traffic would have been tributary to the same total being discussed with regard to the Southern Tier.

And just to be clear: the tax deal on Port-Binghamton is long term, it was not just a one year thing. It started in 2004, it's still in effect. I'm not sure offhand right now if there is any endpoint, or if it's tied to whether it reverts back to NS, or if it's a 20 year term like the lease, or if it's a totally permanent "forever" thing, but it is an integral part of the arrangement and it is very much a long term deal. Definitely not just for 1 year! I'm just not sure off the top of my head right now if it was for 20 years, or in perpetuity, or subject to some other condition, or what.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby Matt Langworthy » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:37 pm

oibu wrote:Secaucus, I think we both know the number of facts anyone presents isn't going to matter.


Perhaps if facts were actually presented, then your statements would actually matter. ;)

I agree that the NS was more interested in the D&H for east-west traffic. Indeed, the Pan Am connection allowed unit auto track trains to be introduced to the Tier.

With that being said, NS was rather irritated with Conrail for selling the former LV/CNJ segment to the R&N in 1996. Unfortunately the CR split was far from final, so there was nothing they could do to stop it. Acquiring the former D&H does allow them to leverage the connection with R&N to ensure 36T and 37T aren't delayed (which had been known to happen).

NS was indeed running 12T and 13T on the Bufflao Line until the mid 2000s, when they moved to the Tier/D&H routing they use now. There were no NS trains running the Buffalo-Allentown route before then. And if you want to go back to the ALCG/CGAL era on CR or even earlier, then we are back to the discussion about mainfest ttraffic and the decline of manufacturing in the Northeast. The closing of Lackawanna Steel had a profound effect on lowering traffic levels well before the CR split, and that's just one of many manufacturers who closed their doors along the Tier and Buffalo line. NS can't haul traffic unless there is something to switch...

I'd love to see a link on the Binghamton Port subsidy being long term. A google search didn't yield anything on that subject. And the response of "oh c'mon everybody knows it's true" doesn't make it so!

At thins point, I'm going to tap out. Not because you are correct, but rather because I have better things to discuss elsewhere. Have fun with the echo chamber.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby rr503 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:12 pm

I think many of you are seeing the tier in a microcosm.

Secaucus -- yes NS has rights outside of rush over MNR, but they still need to deal with NJT MBCL through Northern NJ, where dispatching would be harder, delays would pile up, etc. The line's profile also just isn't as good as the Lehigh line to get to points west, and for points north... see below.

All of you also talk of NS's traffic promises, and how they've failed to carry through. Of course they have. When in a bidding/regulatory war for control of a company, everyone indulges in hyperbole because they want to convince the public that they will do good with the asset. Then they don't carry through, and that's life.

Now let's think about the roles the eastern tier played in the conrail network vs the NS network. In the end years of CR (ie once they got the p'burg line up to stack clearance), the easter Tier was used mainly to funnel traffic from Oak Island to points northwest, and to get traffic to Elmira without having to cross letchworth. Much traffic from points south took this routing, coming into OI on trains from Philadelphia and southern connections, and then being aggregated onto trains to Buffalo, Elmira, etc. In the CR days, Northern New Jersey was both a major destination market and a through point -- it lay at the intersection of the horizontal T that was the Lehigh/Tier, River, and Trenton Lines.

However, the split broke the T. CSX kept the top, while NS got the stem, facts that -- in combination with the Shared Assets ownership of Oak Island, and the NS-CP agreement on trackage/haulage rights over the D&H -- rendered the Eastern Tier much less useful. CSX did not own the line, so had nothing to do with it, and NS's route stucture is much more conducive to routing freight via Allentown or Harrisburg to points north/northwest than via Northern NJ. That is what rendered the Eastern Tier less useful, not some big corporate conspiracy. The only way I see traffic developing on the line is if NS can gather enough freight (probably international IM) to run a dedicated Northern NJ-Buffalo train, with possible connections to points in Ontario. Otherwise, it just doesn't make much sense to use it.
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Re: Southern Tier - East of Binghamton

Postby oibu » Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:22 pm

Matt says "Perhaps if facts were actually presented, then your statements would actually matter." ;)

Your refusal to believe anything no matter how much fact/supporting evidence/specific information anyone presents, and your refusal to research topics before you comment (and/or asking others to research them all for you), does not constitue anything more than your refusal to see anything but you own opinions and refuse to accept that real things are in fact real. Thus my previous comment. Ear plugging and singing lalalala while fact after fact, stat after stat, specific case after specific case, is piled on doesn't render the points moot. You demand fact after fact, and yet while facts and realities are discussed all around, the replies are always just denials or opinions with no discussion or stats to back any of the them up. If you like happen to like NS to the point of believing they can do no wrong, so be it. Others including myself have produced a litany of information, stats, and discussion of specific traffic, policy and economic realities to show why NS is something less than a rock star.

Please feel free to call any tax collector between Binghamton and Port Jervis and I'm sure they'll gladly give you an earful of their opinions about the RR tax deal!!

But for the record if you can't be bothered to look into it, it's actually not my concern.

Carry on everyone...
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