Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby lordsigma12345 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:13 pm

I am fine with Amtrak taking the majority of the liability and paying their fair share of the costs. It seems plausible that a train traveling 70 MPH does more wear and tear than trains travels 35 MPH (or even less), but the hosts should reciprocate with reasonable OTP and there does need to be controls that allow a host to be held accountable if they don't follow agreed terms or if they are found grossly negligent in an incident. I think a grand bargain between the feds and the railroads in which the government/Amtrak pays a more appropriate usage fee that more accurately reflects their impact on the corridor but in which the railroad also agrees to perform better in terms of Amtrak OTP. However Amtrak and the government shouldn't be responsible for all capital costs. Railroads should have some responsibility to rectify situations created by their own decisions. As an example if say a railroad decides to close down another corridor or yard and reroute a bunch of trains onto a corridor with an Amtrak train and as a result that train OTP suffers greatly the railroad should have some responsibility to solve the problem since they created it.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby east point » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:14 pm

Since the Amtrak cars are much lighter than a full freight car only an Amtrak loco would cause any appreciable damage.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby STrRedWolf » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:57 pm

We're still not touching a main point I have:

What is the rate Amtrak is paying? That contracted rate. Is it what the fair market price is now? Is it lower? Is it higher?

If it's lower, then Mr. Frailey has a good point. If it's equal or higher, the article's premise fails.

The funny thing is... only one railroad actually publishes their rates: Norfolk Southern. Everyone else wants you to "talk to a rep".

I'm going to take the Pennsylvanian and assume the worst possible case: All 444 miles are on NS track. 8 cars, 1 locomotive (if I remember correctly). NS charges per trip, per car, and per engine, a stepped rate on each piece of equipment.

Cost per passenger car per trip: $6,737
Cost per locomotive per trip: $6,928

Total for a train set: $60,824 per trip.
Total per day (two trips): $121,648
Total monthly (31 days): $3,771,088 (nearly $4 million)

That's not including fuel, repair cost, switching, wayside usage for stations, etc. That's just to let the train set run on the track.

We're at the point where we need to see the bills. So what's Amtrak paying?

As a side note: While evoking the Google-fu I came across an Amtrak OIG report from 2013 where it states that Amtrak overpaid BNSF for various items related to stations and power usage with them, to the tune of $1.3 billion over ten years (if I read it correctly). At the very least, it looks like the industry as a whole could use a major audit.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby bretton88 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:18 pm

STrRedWolf wrote:We're still not touching a main point I have:

What is the rate Amtrak is paying? That contracted rate. Is it what the fair market price is now? Is it lower? Is it higher?

If it's lower, then Mr. Frailey has a good point. If it's equal or higher, the article's premise fails.

The funny thing is... only one railroad actually publishes their rates: Norfolk Southern. Everyone else wants you to "talk to a rep".

I'm going to take the Pennsylvanian and assume the worst possible case: All 444 miles are on NS track. 8 cars, 1 locomotive (if I remember correctly). NS charges per trip, per car, and per engine, a stepped rate on each piece of equipment.

Cost per passenger car per trip: $6,737
Cost per locomotive per trip: $6,928

Total for a train set: $60,824 per trip.
Total per day (two trips): $121,648
Total monthly (31 days): $3,771,088 (nearly $4 million)

That's not including fuel, repair cost, switching, wayside usage for stations, etc. That's just to let the train set run on the track.

We're at the point where we need to see the bills. So what's Amtrak paying?

As a side note: While evoking the Google-fu I came across an Amtrak OIG report from 2013 where it states that Amtrak overpaid BNSF for various items related to stations and power usage with them, to the tune of $1.3 billion over ten years (if I read it correctly). At the very least, it looks like the industry as a whole could use a major audit.


That number is roughly what PennDOT pays yearly to operate the Pennsylvanian, so I don't think Amtrak is paying anywhere close to market price for that slot.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:39 pm

Also, do volume shippers get a better rate over the advertised? I suspect that JB Hunt, UPS and Union Tank Car all have reduced per-car rates or rebates, so it would make sense that Norfolk and Washington *could* negotiate a mutually-agreeable rate simply based on volume.

That said, I have no doubt there’s an imbalance.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby east point » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:16 pm

bretton88 wrote:
STrRedWolf wrote:We're still not touching a main point I have:

What is the rate Amtrak is paying? That contracted rate. Is it what the fair market price is now? Is it lower? Is it higher?


That number is roughly what PennDOT pays yearly to operate the Pennsylvanian, so I don't think Amtrak is paying anywhere close to market price for that slot.



Since the Pennsylvanian does not take delays on NS it would appear that there is excess capacity on NS ?
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby Tadman » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:29 pm

mtuandrew wrote:The Class 1s may not dislike passenger trains, but they sure aren’t interested in passengers themselves. HUGE liability to have on their rails, more than hazmat or coil cars. Let’s add that to the Amtrak market rate, above and beyond the intermodal rate.


I don't see any other way to define market rate other than that which accounts for all costs attributable to the customer. If insurance goes up, the marginal cost increase goes into the cost structure and is reflected in the trackage rights payments.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby rohr turbo » Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:47 pm

STrRedWolf wrote:
Cost per passenger car per trip: $6,737
Cost per locomotive per trip: $6,928


It appears the tariffs you're quoting are for a one-time transport of a passenger car or dead-in-tow locomotive, and those rates include idler cars, inspection, and of course a portion of the fuel, crew salary, locomotive depreciation, etc. None of this applies to the Amtrak situation.

A more relevant comparison might be what freight railroads charge other RRs who have trackage rights over the line. Elsewhere I saw these as being in the $0.50 per car-mile range in 2006. Those figures have probably more than doubled since then, but still far far cheaper than the numbers you quote.

In 2009, Amtrak paid a total of $115.4M in track-usage payments, and that was 3.3% of Amtrak's budget. That was about $4.44 per train-mile.

another relevant quote (from here: https://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/default/f ... ed3%29.pdf):
"The Railroad Passenger Service Act of 1970 grants Amtrak priority access to freight railroads' rights-of-ways and requires that Amtrak compensate owning freight railroads only for the incremental cost (rather than a negotiated market cost) associated with accommodating intercity passenger services over their tracks. "
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby STrRedWolf » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:06 pm

bretton88 wrote:
Total monthly (31 days): $3,771,088 (nearly $4 million)


That number is roughly what PennDOT pays yearly to operate the Pennsylvanian, so I don't think Amtrak is paying anywhere close to market price for that slot.


Let us refine it then... actual track milage is 249 miles on NS track, so that's the 300 mile rate. (I'm using form NSRQ-4900 for the rates)

Per car/trip: $5215
Locomotive/trip: $5194
Trip total: $46,914
Day total: $93,828
31-day total: $2,908,668
Year total: $34,247,220

So at least $35M/year. And you say PennDOT pays $4M/year? How much is Amtrak paying?

another relevant quote (from here: https://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/default/f ... ed3%29.pdf):
"The Railroad Passenger Service Act of 1970 grants Amtrak priority access to freight railroads' rights-of-ways and requires that Amtrak compensate owning freight railroads only for the incremental cost (rather than a negotiated market cost) associated with accommodating intercity passenger services over their tracks. "


And there you go. Amtrak isn't paying market rates because it's required by law not to. This means any lawsuit against Amtrak would fail... and the issue has to be re-legislated.

Want to bet the lawyers at the railroad companies already went though this law and said to the owners "You're screwed, better just double-track."

BTW, the Pennsy's route is double-tracked all the way to Pittsburgh. Didn't Mr. Frailey mention that double-tracking where possible would solve the time loss issues?
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby bretton88 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:44 pm

STrRedWolf wrote:
bretton88 wrote:
Total monthly (31 days): $3,771,088 (nearly $4 million)


That number is roughly what PennDOT pays yearly to operate the Pennsylvanian, so I don't think Amtrak is paying anywhere close to market price for that slot.


Let us refine it then... actual track milage is 249 miles on NS track, so that's the 300 mile rate. (I'm using form NSRQ-4900 for the rates)

Per car/trip: $5215
Locomotive/trip: $5194
Trip total: $46,914
Day total: $93,828
31-day total: $2,908,668
Year total: $34,247,220

So at least $35M/year. And you say PennDOT pays $4M/year? How much is Amtrak paying?

another relevant quote (from here: https://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/default/f ... ed3%29.pdf):
"The Railroad Passenger Service Act of 1970 grants Amtrak priority access to freight railroads' rights-of-ways and requires that Amtrak compensate owning freight railroads only for the incremental cost (rather than a negotiated market cost) associated with accommodating intercity passenger services over their tracks. "


And there you go. Amtrak isn't paying market rates because it's required by law not to. This means any lawsuit against Amtrak would fail... and the issue has to be re-legislated.

Want to bet the lawyers at the railroad companies already went though this law and said to the owners "You're screwed, better just double-track."

BTW, the Pennsy's route is double-tracked all the way to Pittsburgh. Didn't Mr. Frailey mention that double-tracking where possible would solve the time loss issues?


If that low payment is truly what is required by law, that would explain the freight's high infrastructure demands. Essentially they're trading high capital costs for low operating costs. Maybe it is time for a revisit of that legislation.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby rohr turbo » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:13 pm

RedWolf your figures are way off.

If the market rate for freight access fees (i.e. trackage rights using your own train) is about $1 per car mile, then the Pennsylvanian's NS track usage is worth $1494 per train (249 miles, 6 cars). If Amtrak is actually paying $4.44 per train mile, that's $1105. 26% discount. Yes a bargain but not highway robbery.

Also interesting to note that I see reference to Amtrak charging NS $1.05 per car mile for NEC trackage use. And that was set high to encourage heavy slow freight off the NEC Class 6 track.

The article's point is that Amtrak's timekeeping expectation is an extra burden on the RR. I guess there's some truth to that. I heard the DRGW initially stayed out of Amtrak primarily to retain scheduling control. Yet the railroads were able to profitably mix freight and passenger trains for a century, and that in the heavy-labor, pre-digital age. Shouldn't be so hard to do today.

I'm happy to be corrected on the car-mile costs if someone can point to recent links.
Last edited by rohr turbo on Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:21 pm

It’s worth the government’s time to invest in railroad infrastructure anyway, regardless of whether it’s for passenger or freight. Takes a lot of pressure off the Interstate and US Highway system for less than an extra lane or new interchange costs. Passenger capacity is a small price to ask.

rohr turbo: does the per-car rate change as the priority/speed changes? That said, Amtrak also provides its own fuel, crew, and power, so that’s a nice discount.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby rohr turbo » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:33 pm

mtuandrew wrote:It’s worth the government’s time to invest in railroad infrastructure anyway, regardless of whether it’s for passenger or freight. Takes a lot of pressure off the Interstate and US Highway system for less than an extra lane or new interchange costs. Passenger capacity is a small price to ask.

rohr turbo: does the per-car rate change as the priority/speed changes? That said, Amtrak also provides its own fuel, crew, and power, so that’s a nice discount.


I fully agree on the importance of rebuilding rail infrastructure. Implementation on the freight side will be dicey -- which private railroads will reap the windfall of government investment? At least the passenger side is all public.

I am no expert on car rate charges...I just googled a bit. I would image there is some fee adjustment for all sorts of things: speed, night operation, etc. I did learn that "freight access fees" does presume you operate over the host route with your own locomotive, fuel, and crew (the Amtrak model).
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby STrRedWolf » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:21 pm

rohr turbo wrote:RedWolf your figures are way off.
...
I'm happy to be corrected on the car-mile costs if someone can point to recent links.


The figures are pulled from NS itself here:

http://www.nscorp.com/mktgpublic/publicprices/

I am pulling the rate for Passenger and Locomotive under the MISC TRANSPORTATION group. I am not pulling the Freight rate, because there's different types of freight that get charged different rates, and people are not freight.
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Re: Thank You, Fred Frailey.....

Postby Tadman » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:49 pm

I think we're missing the boat. Regardless of what the law says Amtrak should pay, if Amtrak is not receiving preferential treatment, they're not paying enough. The host railroads are in business to move trains for pay. That's all they do. There are plenty of examples of fast trains, like UPS or JB Hunt. There are plenty of examples of unit trains. There are plenty of examples of trackage and haulage rights. The ones that work long-term are the ones that see a fair price that covers the cost of the track slot an adds profit to the ledger.

In the end, we can't think of this as Amtrak versus the railroads. We have to think of this as a short silver unit train that needs to go fast and have priority over other trains. There is some magic dollar amount that would make the class I railroads happy to do so.
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