John G. Kneiling

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Re: John G. Kneiling

Postby 2nd trick op » Tue Mar 25, 2014 5:46 am

A rather lively discussion on Mr. Kneiling and his works is underway over at the Trains/Kalmbach site
What a revoltin' development this is! (William Bendix)
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Re: John G. Kneiling

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:46 am

Likely at about age eight, a kid learns the maxim 'people see and hear only what they want to see and hear'. JGK had difficulty accepting that maxim, and from the personalities I have 'known along the way' who have been associated with KALPUB, employment and otherwise, knowing that maxim is key to survival within that organization.

Further, and possibly relevant to this discussion, is the wide awareness that has developed only within this century, of the spectrum comprising the autistic disorder. This spectrum that was developed by Dr. Hans Asperger during the 1940's was likely only discussed within the mental health community at academic level and had hardly found its way into clinical practice during the 1960's.

But since this Forum is not directed to discussion of Clinical Psychology, let us redirect towards JGK and the contemporary railroad industry.

As we consider JGK's thoughts that when presented surely ired all interests within the industry, be they management or organized labor - and even hobbyists - let us remember where the industry has come since JGK's writings.

We have seen an industry in which the normal crew consist reduced from five MEN to two PERSONS.

We have seen the concept of one train handling one commodity operating with one origin and one destination spread from simply coal to an array of commodities, especially oil extracted from domestic sources known only to geologists when JGK wrote.

We have seen an industry that no longer has to petition a regulatory agency to change a rate to remain competitive but now an industry that can be proactive in marketing rates and services to customers.

We have seen the concept of intermodalism developed to such extent that manufactured goods are loaded once at origin and unloaded at destination - and such movement could well encompass ocean shipping, rail, and highway.

We have seen a railroad formed from the remains of at least five others all within Bankruptcy Protection that became so viable that a Wall Street takeover bidding war erupted that had such in the same league as those in other viable industries.

We have seen a Federal agency first formed with the intent of providing an orderly removal of passenger train service now come to show that in certain markets intercity passenger service can provide meaningful transportation as distinct from political playthings.

JGK can look down and likely say 'I told you so'.

But all told, JGK was a product of the 'Mad Men' era; and terms such as 'think out of the box' had yet to replace some such as 'conformity'.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: John G. Kneiling

Postby Desertdweller » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:34 pm

I started reading JGK's articles before I became actively involved in the railroad industry. When I was a college freshman, I floated the idea of the college inviting JGK to speak. The idea was quickly shot shot down because he was "too controversial".

When I did start working on railroads, I was somewhat surprised to find his ideas were unpopular with both labor and management. I found it impressive that he was able to alienate both sides simultaneously.

I credit this man with influencing my attitude toward the industry to this day. Perhaps the greatest lesson was that, as a railroader, one's relationship to the industry is greater than one's relationship with any particular railroad. And that railroads are in business to make money, not to run trains or to provide cushy jobs for employees and management. No profit-no railroad-no jobs. He had no patience to suffer fools. Tolerating a very demanding lifestyle and hard work is one thing; suffering the incompetency of unqualified management is quite another.

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Re: John G. Kneiling

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:48 pm

I just now came across this thread. I had a few dealings with John Kneiling when I was working, and my experiences corresponded closely with BaltOhio's observations back In 2006. He had some good ideas, but tended to dismiss inconvenient facts. However, I was struck by one thing he wrote, more than once, in his Trains column which may seem obvious but is often overlooked:

"A shipper is someone who has sold something and now must deliver it."

Anyone in the transportation business needs to reflect that if he feels under pressure from the demands of a shipper, the shipper is under greater pressure from his customer, who wants to know where his shipment is and when he can expect it to be delivered. Carriers that perform get the traffic.

Regarding his railfan activities, the word was that he was one of the organizers of the last fantrip on the Wilkes-Barre & Eastern, behind NYS&W power (I think one of the Russian Decapods), in 1939.
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