PAS Intermodal Prospects

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PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby BostonUrbEx » Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:48 pm

Does anyone know if the NS plans on running more intermodal on PAS? I'm not sure where, but I read somewhere that it was possible there maybe be another pig train, from Atlanta, in the works. Also, what is the status on working on a stack train? Any recent timelines for double stacks to Ayer? What is in the way other than the Hoosac Tunnel which I believe I heard will be worked on in a year or so?
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby newpylong » Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:29 pm

The tunnel won't be raised next year there is no money allocated and the results of the engineering study aren't back from what I've seen.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:52 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:Does anyone know if the NS plans on running more intermodal on PAS? I'm not sure where, but I read somewhere that it was possible there maybe be another pig train, from Atlanta, in the works. Also, what is the status on working on a stack train? Any recent timelines for double stacks to Ayer? What is in the way other than the Hoosac Tunnel which I believe I heard will be worked on in a year or so?


The engineering firm hired to final-design the tunnel clearance improvements won't be done with its design work this year; deadline for them is '17 I think. So there's no work that needs to be immediately funded at this exact moment. 13 overhead bridges also need clearance work (don't know how many are PAS trackbed undercuts vs. MassDOT raisings), but all of that is dwarfed by the tunnel construction and constitute a fraction of the number of bridges that got touched for the CSX clearance project.


PAS is also still busy belatedly closing the gap on the 286K upgrade of the corridor that's running almost 2 years late. North Adams-west and Fitchburg-east got formally uprated as of November's loading weights system map update, but all points in the middle are still undergoing bridge work. As is the Conn River, which is still marked "pending". They'll be busy this spring finishing that up. Loading weight has much more immediate systemwide consequences at this exact moment. 286K already exists Ayer-Rigby, Ayer-Worcester, Ayer-Concord, Rigby-Danville, and Rigby-Brunswick...with the Portsmouth-Newington branch and NH Northcoast interchange @ Dover getting uprates soon. So the PAS delays leave all that pre-existing weight capacity virtually useless at present. They will have a lot more options to immediately tap systemwide if they can finally git-r'-dun this summer on the Corridor.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby CN9634 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:32 pm

NS dominates the E/W traffic while CSX (thanks in part to its geography) dominates the N/S. Previously I had heard that NS was interested in an AYER - ATL or MECH - ATL service.... likely it would be a MECH - ATL with a feeder
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby QB 52.32 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:31 pm

CN9634 wrote:NS dominates the E/W traffic while CSX (thanks in part to its geography) dominates the N/S. Previously I had heard that NS was interested in an AYER - ATL or MECH - ATL service.... likely it would be a MECH - ATL with a feeder


NS does not dominate CSX in any New England intermodal lane and CSX's New England intermodal growth is outpacing NS', including with what would be typical NS accounts.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby CN9634 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:40 pm

QB 52.32 wrote:
CN9634 wrote:NS dominates the E/W traffic while CSX (thanks in part to its geography) dominates the N/S. Previously I had heard that NS was interested in an AYER - ATL or MECH - ATL service.... likely it would be a MECH - ATL with a feeder


NS does not dominate CSX in any New England intermodal lane and CSX's New England intermodal growth is outpacing NS', including with what would be typical NS accounts.


Not since Hunt has been working both sides you are right, but by and large on the national level, this is how it works. But you are right, in NE CSX is winning the game. Actually, I think CSX is doing much better right now at Intermodal than NS. Also, PAS/PAR service has had impacts on NS' intermodal lane(s) in New England
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby YamaOfParadise » Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:17 pm

QB 52.32 wrote:NS does not dominate CSX in any New England intermodal lane and CSX's New England intermodal growth is outpacing NS', including with what would be typical NS accounts.


CSX also has expansive and filled out in Worcester and Springfield and full 20'-2" clearances on the route to said facilities. They're the established player in town. Whenever PAS can get their 20'-2" clearance into existence, and (perhaps) upgrade Ayer a bit, then they're a somewhat equal player to CSX; at the very least they're (more) competitive with Worcester. CSX doesn't have much, if any growing space left in Worcester, and PAS can also sap things coming more from the north part of the I-495 corridor in MA/NH/ME.

Of course, where the traffic's south point is also makes a difference: if it's originating/ending on CSX down there, it makes more sense for it to only go via one road, not two.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby CN9634 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:35 pm

You will never see NS/CSX interchange domestic intermodal
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby BostonUrbEx » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:06 pm

Anyone know what the chances are of a Chicago-New Haven route are? Assuming that the Conrail Shared Asset intermodal ports around NY/NJ are congested, does this present a viable alternative? I don't know if that area is congested or not, but I imagine so. Also, any chance of competing with CSX's Springfield/I-91 operation with a facility at East Deerfield?
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:40 pm

BostonUrbEx wrote:Anyone know what the chances are of a Chicago-New Haven route are? Assuming that the Conrail Shared Asset intermodal ports around NY/NJ are congested, does this present a viable alternative? I don't know if that area is congested or not, but I imagine so. Also, any chance of competing with CSX's Springfield/I-91 operation with a facility at East Deerfield?


New Haven is near-dead because of how much freight is discouraged on the New Haven Line. Conrail gave up the Springfield Line for a reason. Cedar Hill is still significant enough and has some minor unexplored options to chew on, but the days of it being a regional anchor are 35 years past and never coming back.

East Deerfield is definitely primed for a large upgrade once PAS is double-stacked. The I-91 corridor is a battle-ground. Since Worcester had to absorb all Beacon Park intermodal and is constrained by acreage, CSX has already filled out every nook and cranny of that site. To handle trucking growth to Eastern MA, Eastern CT, RI, Southern/Seacoast NH, Seacoast ME they are going to need to shift all those incredible volumes of IM trucks slamming the I-84 tolls away from Worcester to West Springfield. Which is why they're hot for MassDOT to do the truck clearance improvements to that yard and have sunk $10M of their own money into first-wave facility upgrades. To load-balance Greater Hartford needs to be served out of there via I-91 and (Connecticut) I-291. That's a given, because Worcester's future depends on that truck territory shifting west. It puts NS in good competitive position with ED being on I-91. Regardless of what you think of the Class 1s' one-on-one chances, the chess moves ED vs. West Springfield and Ayer vs. Worcester are eminently predictable once PAS has the car capacity to tap.


As for who else schleps off that? It's small-potatoes. The CSX and NS yards can run round-trips out to massive swaths of New England on single trucker shifts. And that's where all the cost savings come from: mega volumes + geographical location at/near major diverging highway interchanges + lowered labor costs on the trucking end by keeping their distance radius to single-shift instead of multi-shift like it was/is out of Albany and New Jersey + flexibility to do the trucking off-peak instead of snarled in traffic + implanting more truck shippers in range of the mega-yards. It's not a case where P&W, NECR, CSOR, and PAR...or CSX & NS...have ready-serve opportunities to do shorter-haul "satellite" IM lanes right down the street in Hartford, Cedar Hill, Readville and other Route 128-situated locales, New Hampshire, or even Portland to some truly massive degree. The volumes aren't there, and it's within that ideal single-shift trucker radius so there's still a little road-vs.-rail competition.

Rather, there's opportunity for more transloads. Smaller RR's doing their interchanging, then partnering up with a Tighe Warehouse-type company that does efficient short-haul trucking. But sign those on as this generation's on-line siding customers rather than banking big on IM yards with the smaller carriers. Obviously there's exceptions. Portland distance-wise, size/concentration-wise, and access-wise is a real IM prospect. Mid-size, but real volumes and real growth prospects...which is why Western Route double-stack is the consensus #2 Southern New England freight investment after PAS is done. Waterville a little bit too because of proximity to the Canadian lanes...but emphasis on the little bit. Certainly more of those Tighe-like transloads are nice to have and healthy growers to collect. And there are some yards ripe prospects for the RR's to invest in a spread of multi-modal shipping: Hartford Yard, Seaview a couple of examples that have location going for them.

But it takes focus. A lot of the smaller carriers can veer off-course thinking that because there's IM circulating in their neighborhood that they're an IM lane in-the-making. NECR's one example that's kind of fuzzy on what it wants to be. P&W Worcester an example that's maybe a little more focused since they're zeroing in on doing autoracks and doing them real well, doing aggregates and doing them real well, seeking opportunities for stuff like fuel that they can do real well. Discrete specialties more than the general-purpose that only the monster scale of the Class I's and their monster IM yards can truly do at maximum margins. Since the New England rail network (save for Northern Maine) has more or less been boiled down to the bare essentials with the carriers mostly tightened around the essentials as a healthy rallying point...there's plenty of opportunities. You wouldn't have Genesee & Wyoming and Fortress buying into New England Class III's if they didn't see potential growth and many potential chess move combinations they can play off Class I business decisions. You just can't have spazzes who think jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none is their ticket to success...where low-margin opportunities get chased down a wormhole, and systems are too weighed-down by declining branches where "winning" amounts to stop-loss and not improved growth margins. Which is why we've got two hot threads going about PAR's acquisition/reinvention opportunities. Laser-like focus matters for making it work in New England, as does being exceptionally good at reading the Class I's intentions. Thankfully we've got 2 of those now in reach of everyone, and both are well-engaged and hungry for growth and one-on-one competition where they've set up shop.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby QB 52.32 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:33 pm

Fortunately, it appears odds favor continued growth for both carriers in New England. While it isn't the biggest market, New England does attractively offer one of the longest hauls in the East and an imbalanced marketplace. However, CSX has a large competitive advantage given its network and service: some will likely be matched by NS down the road, but much can't be, leaving CSX with the biggest slice of the pie.

The chances for a Chicago-New Haven route? Doubtful when boxes can be run off of North Jersey and/or Springfield-area. East Deerfield? I'd expand it to include the East Deerfield-Springfield corridor...interesting to think of Hartford, but that has negatives....also interesting to think of NECR/Palmer-eastern CT but the PAS/NECR interchange would likely need serious work and NS preferring to maintain control of the traffic on PAS. Maybe some day if trends continue.

Regarding CSX and Worcester's capacity, they have further options for development without going "out of range" by relying on West Springfield when so much of the action is along the I-495 belt. Additionally, their primary constraint is for parking, not lift or track capacity, so they may look to increasing that operationally or with local offsite capacity before either investing more capital or relying on West Springfield to supplement Worcester's role.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby CN9634 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:48 pm

NS has no need for a terminal in CT or Deerfield. They already have Ayer, Mechanicville and Croxton/E-Rail. CSX uses Syracuse, Springfield, Worcester and Kearny/The Bergens (Not sure if anything is coming in Albany). Also, NS now has Taylor, Allentown and Harrisburg area terminals. You really just need about customers who are 150 miles or less on a daycab (400 miles or less in a day is feasible keeping in mind you start and end at the terminal) or else you can use a regional fleet of trucks out of a terminal. In New England, there is a large regional fleet to cover such a large area due largely in part to no terminals beyond mass. But from Mass into CT it's all covered from NY/NJ and Mass. The biggest trouble areas are northern VT, northern NH and Maine.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby CN9634 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:21 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:
BostonUrbEx wrote:Anyone know what the chances are of a Chicago-New Haven route are? Assuming that the Conrail Shared Asset intermodal ports around NY/NJ are congested, does this present a viable alternative? I don't know if that area is congested or not, but I imagine so. Also, any chance of competing with CSX's Springfield/I-91 operation with a facility at East Deerfield?


New Haven is near-dead because of how much freight is discouraged on the New Haven Line. Conrail gave up the Springfield Line for a reason. Cedar Hill is still significant enough and has some minor unexplored options to chew on, but the days of it being a regional anchor are 35 years past and never coming back.

East Deerfield is definitely primed for a large upgrade once PAS is double-stacked. The I-91 corridor is a battle-ground. Since Worcester had to absorb all Beacon Park intermodal and is constrained by acreage, CSX has already filled out every nook and cranny of that site. To handle trucking growth to Eastern MA, Eastern CT, RI, Southern/Seacoast NH, Seacoast ME they are going to need to shift all those incredible volumes of IM trucks slamming the I-84 tolls away from Worcester to West Springfield. Which is why they're hot for MassDOT to do the truck clearance improvements to that yard and have sunk $10M of their own money into first-wave facility upgrades. To load-balance Greater Hartford needs to be served out of there via I-91 and (Connecticut) I-291. That's a given, because Worcester's future depends on that truck territory shifting west. It puts NS in good competitive position with ED being on I-91. Regardless of what you think of the Class 1s' one-on-one chances, the chess moves ED vs. West Springfield and Ayer vs. Worcester are eminently predictable once PAS has the car capacity to tap.


As for who else schleps off that? It's small-potatoes. The CSX and NS yards can run round-trips out to massive swaths of New England on single trucker shifts. And that's where all the cost savings come from: mega volumes + geographical location at/near major diverging highway interchanges + lowered labor costs on the trucking end by keeping their distance radius to single-shift instead of multi-shift like it was/is out of Albany and New Jersey + flexibility to do the trucking off-peak instead of snarled in traffic + implanting more truck shippers in range of the mega-yards. It's not a case where P&W, NECR, CSOR, and PAR...or CSX & NS...have ready-serve opportunities to do shorter-haul "satellite" IM lanes right down the street in Hartford, Cedar Hill, Readville and other Route 128-situated locales, New Hampshire, or even Portland to some truly massive degree. The volumes aren't there, and it's within that ideal single-shift trucker radius so there's still a little road-vs.-rail competition.

Rather, there's opportunity for more transloads. Smaller RR's doing their interchanging, then partnering up with a Tighe Warehouse-type company that does efficient short-haul trucking. But sign those on as this generation's on-line siding customers rather than banking big on IM yards with the smaller carriers. Obviously there's exceptions. Portland distance-wise, size/concentration-wise, and access-wise is a real IM prospect. Mid-size, but real volumes and real growth prospects...which is why Western Route double-stack is the consensus #2 Southern New England freight investment after PAS is done. Waterville a little bit too because of proximity to the Canadian lanes...but emphasis on the little bit. Certainly more of those Tighe-like transloads are nice to have and healthy growers to collect. And there are some yards ripe prospects for the RR's to invest in a spread of multi-modal shipping: Hartford Yard, Seaview a couple of examples that have location going for them.

But it takes focus. A lot of the smaller carriers can veer off-course thinking that because there's IM circulating in their neighborhood that they're an IM lane in-the-making. NECR's one example that's kind of fuzzy on what it wants to be. P&W Worcester an example that's maybe a little more focused since they're zeroing in on doing autoracks and doing them real well, doing aggregates and doing them real well, seeking opportunities for stuff like fuel that they can do real well. Discrete specialties more than the general-purpose that only the monster scale of the Class I's and their monster IM yards can truly do at maximum margins. Since the New England rail network (save for Northern Maine) has more or less been boiled down to the bare essentials with the carriers mostly tightened around the essentials as a healthy rallying point...there's plenty of opportunities. You wouldn't have Genesee & Wyoming and Fortress buying into New England Class III's if they didn't see potential growth and many potential chess move combinations they can play off Class I business decisions. You just can't have spazzes who think jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none is their ticket to success...where low-margin opportunities get chased down a wormhole, and systems are too weighed-down by declining branches where "winning" amounts to stop-loss and not improved growth margins. Which is why we've got two hot threads going about PAR's acquisition/reinvention opportunities. Laser-like focus matters for making it work in New England, as does being exceptionally good at reading the Class I's intentions. Thankfully we've got 2 of those now in reach of everyone, and both are well-engaged and hungry for growth and one-on-one competition where they've set up shop.



Sorry for the double post...

Often what is not a clear distinction made is that intermodal is a broad term that primarily consists of international and domestic players. However, what should be important to note is that a lanes are setup separately to serve these very different operations differently. Also, you have to take into account equipment management, that's IM boxes both domestic and international, as well as chassis of various sizes depending on what they are used for. So for the most part, Class I's are working on their domestic networks as much as they can on their own networks. The international traffic is a different story, they are willing to partner up with other RRs or create transload/crossdocks to keep the international boxes close to the coasts, and put that freight into manifest or intermodal boxes.

Also, keep in mind the shortline role to move loaded boxcars (for example) to warehouses on class Is that have greater access to intermodal and trucking markets. In certain parts of the country, you have Joe's Truckings or Ma & Pa RR company. However, you can cheaply move a lot of cargo a few hundred miles by rail to a hub, where you can transload into an intermodal container to go out. What you have to realize is that the expansion of intermodal opens up new doors and can replace this method. But ultimately, you still battle van trucking, as that is still a dominant player, especially 600 miles or less. Transcon however is a huge foothold for intermodal, and I think the big Class Is are focusing on these large lanes for interchange in key bottlenecks.

Volumes for intermodal are huge and continue to see growth even when the rest of rail declines because they can compete with trucks. By and large, regionals don't do anything for CLass I's unless they provide a foothold to a new market that they cannot access. For example, Pan Am and FEC are key to NS (FEC for CSX) to access markets their tracks simply don't go. You won't see further penetration in the market off those established partnership systems.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby BostonUrbEx » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:06 am

CN9634 wrote:NS has no need for a terminal in CT or Deerfield. They already have Ayer, Mechanicville and Croxton/E-Rail. CSX uses Syracuse, Springfield, Worcester and Kearny/The Bergens (Not sure if anything is coming in Albany).


If they're competing one-on-one -- or if NS just flat out wants to serve the I-91 corridor -- I would think a terminal at East Deerfield would be necessary. The only issue I see is where to fit it. Looking over E Deerfield in Google Maps, it doesn't look like Rigby. It looks like a larger percentage of tracks are in-service, whereas Rigby might be able to "shift" the yard by putting tracks back in service and putting IM on the eastern flank. Or if they made a Gerry Ave crossing for the mainline, they could put a 3000' pad in the vacant west yard.

But, anyway, I digress. Point is, East Deerfield doesn't look so simple, but I imagine NS needs a piece of the I-91 pie.
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Re: PAS Intermodal Prospects

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:58 am

BostonUrbEx wrote:
CN9634 wrote:NS has no need for a terminal in CT or Deerfield. They already have Ayer, Mechanicville and Croxton/E-Rail. CSX uses Syracuse, Springfield, Worcester and Kearny/The Bergens (Not sure if anything is coming in Albany).


If they're competing one-on-one -- or if NS just flat out wants to serve the I-91 corridor -- I would think a terminal at East Deerfield would be necessary. The only issue I see is where to fit it. Looking over E Deerfield in Google Maps, it doesn't look like Rigby. It looks like a larger percentage of tracks are in-service, whereas Rigby might be able to "shift" the yard by putting tracks back in service and putting IM on the eastern flank. Or if they made a Gerry Ave crossing for the mainline, they could put a 3000' pad in the vacant west yard.

But, anyway, I digress. Point is, East Deerfield doesn't look so simple, but I imagine NS needs a piece of the I-91 pie.


Slice-o-pie is more like it, since the IM yard distribution isn't a straight-up match between the two carriers. It doesn't have to be equipped on the scale of Mickeyville or Ayer, but CSX is expanding/modernizing at West Springfield so a new market entrant's got to keep their flanks covered. ED's crowded, but modern and peak-efficiency it is not. It does little to no trucking because it's got an under-height bridge of its own blocking big rig access to US 5 from River Rd. Which in turn has given PAR zero motivation to improve that potholed one-lane driveway of theirs with rickety, narrow bridge over tracks and dirt-road access into the yard. MassDOT's got a real proposal for fixing CSX's under-height bridge blocker keeping them from direct state highway access. Fixing the roadway dimensions under this single-track guy way out in the woods is a far cheaper proposition than solving this six-track sucker over a busy city thoroughfare, and would open up options that ED has never had before.

Nothing grand...but a little modernization for efficiency's sake; better land usage on the north/mill end and where the junk piles are strewn around the perimeter; gee-whiz 21st century innovations like a real paved asphalt two-lane driveway; and ability to get a full-height trailer in and out of there goes a long way. NS has a vested interest in tightening the bolts up there to get the yard as efficient as it can be for the role it serves. The slack that's left to tighten there probably carves out all the above-and-beyond ceiling they'd need to cover future needs. Such as judiciously protecting their flank on I-91.
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