Reciprocal Switching - Gone?

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Reciprocal Switching - Gone?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:39 am

First, let it be noted I've been gone from the railroad industry, where I was employed "first job out of college", for now thirty five years.

From first this article appearing in The Journal, and the follow up letter, it would appear that reciprocal switching, or the apparent one-time practice of having a road switch cars from one of their on-line industries for a line haul on another, AND v.v, is gone. - possibly a victim of dereg and the combinations of roads of which there were thirty of consequence "back in my day" to the "magnificent seven" of today: ... 1465943599

Fair Use:

In another proposal under consideration at the Surface Transportation Board, some companies that move goods by rail want to force railroads to open up their tracks and facilities to other railroad competitors in order to obtain lower shipping costs. Doing so would upend the logistical efficiencies that today benefit all customers using the U.S. rail system to move their goods ... 1466794859

Fair Use:

In “Freight Railroads Are Braking for Regulatory Creep” (op-ed, June 15) about regulation of freight railroads, Edward R. Hamberger presents a misleading critique of a proposal that would actually reduce regulatory burdens and promote free-market competition. The proposal is called competitive switching, and it would simply allow rail customers to request that their freight be moved to another major railroad if it is reasonably accessible. It isn’t really a radical idea since it’s a process that has worked well for more than a century in Canada, which has a similar freight rail network

Now it would appear that one shipper or another suggests the concept be reinvented under the name of "competitive switching". I was never aware that "reciprocal switching" was dead.

Anyone with industry knowledge more contemporaneous than mine care to enlighten me?
Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Reciprocal Switching - Gone?

Postby Cowford » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:58 pm

Reciprocal switching is still very much alive, Mr Gilbert. As you probably recall from your days in the industry, customer locations were (and are) either "open" or "closed", open meaning that a carrier other than the serving carrier could access the location from a designated junction point for a set fee, usually publish in a tariff or circular - here's an example: ... _recip.pdf

The reference is to blanket open access. Canada has zoned open-access, based on mileage from industry location to competing railroad. IIRC, there are five zones (as high as 100 miles) on a tiered-pricing scheme.
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Re: Reciprocal Switching - Gone?

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:03 pm

Cowford, many thanks for posting that; I also have been away from the industry for a good many years and am completely out of touch with developments in carload traffic. I gather from the circular (no tariffs any more!) that the switching charges are determined by the serving carrier, and the line-haul carrier has the option of including them in its rate to the shipper, who then decides whether to accept that rate or explore other alternatives; a far cry from ICC days, when the charge was what the ICC permitted, had to be absorbed by the line-haul carrier, and had to apply to all industries in the switching district, irrespective of cost to the serving railroad. I wasn't sure what conditions apply today under Staggers.
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