Impact of Precision Scheduled Railroading on the Industry

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Re: Impact of Precision Scheduled Railroading on the Industr

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:46 am

This Wall Street Journal article is a great "coloring book", but I have to wonder to what extent has it increased my knowledge of Precision Railroading: ... mail_share

Fair Use:

DECATUR, Ill.— Norfolk Southern Corp. executives, employees and customers holed up for five days recently to work on a complex puzzle. How could they unclog a sprawling freight yard in central Illinois without triggering chaos?

They asked a multitude of small questions akin to word problems in a math class. Their answers point toward some of the most sweeping changes to the nation’s railroad system in decades.

There are 19 railcars bound for Kansas City that reach Decatur around 7:10 a.m. most days, about two hours before their connecting train. That isn’t enough time to unhook the cars, which are loaded with freight like coiled steel and corn syrup, move them along a grid of tracks, then attach them to the outbound train. So they sit in Decatur for an average of 26 hours—well over Norfolk Southern’s goal of 20.

Pushing back the Kansas City departure to 2:30 a.m. the following day would fix that problem but generate another: 21 cars from Conway, Pa., would miss the train to Kansas City. One fix would be to have the Conway train arrive later
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Re: Impact of Precision Scheduled Railroading on the Industr

Postby Engineer Spike » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:14 pm

I’ve read on some B&M forums that they had operational efficiency evaluation and modeling done by MIT. Contrary to the Hunter idea about super long trains, smaller and more frequent trains were more efficient, and less costly. Maybe NS should consult with former B&M president, Alan Dustin instead of copying Hunter.

If I recall correctly, one of the guys who participated in our discussion was involved with the study. They found that short trains made better time over the road, as well as being easier to make up and take apart at the originating and terminating yards. There were less problems of excessive deep time because there was usually a second train, if the first connection was missed.
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Re: Impact of Precision Scheduled Railroading on the Industr

Postby QB 52.32 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:27 pm

I believe the suggestion for "more frequent, more reliable, shorter trains avoiding intermediate yards" was one of many made by an MIT-supported 1973 Task Force on Rail Productivity jointly sponsored by the Council of Economic Advisers and the National Commission on Productivity, also including the suggestion for containerizing merchandise traffic. The biggest Dustin-era MIT research was focused upon equipment utilization driven by AAR and FRA efforts to deal with 1970's equipment supply problems. An MIT researcher, who developed a car forecasting and linear programming freight car demand and distribution model, Mike Messner, went to work for Dustin at the B&M as head of car utilization and distribution. Additionally, subsequent MIT studies showed that advances in railroad productivity coming out of the 1980's had largely benefited shippers in comparison to the rail carriers, carload service unchanged and unreliable with transit variability correlated to the number of yards in which any given shipment is handled, and freight car productivity also relatively unchanged. So, EHH's PSR is really of a different era with intermodal service at the vanguard of head-to-head truck competition and often offering those multiple departures, focused upon long-persistent issues with railroad service reliability, asset utilization and overall carrier financial performance.
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