Discussion relating to the past and present operations of CPR. Official web site can be found here: CPKCR.com. Includes Kansas City Southern. There is also a KCS sub-forum for prior operations: kansas-city-southern-and-affiliates-f153.html

Moderators: Komachi, Ken V

  by NHV 669
120 was into Greenville Jct. at 13:31 with 8208/9711/3048, 48 wells/83 containers, 39 empty wells, 44 mixed freight (9 loaded autoracks).

No 121.
  by NHV 669
121 was into Greenville Jct. at 07:52 with 8208/9711/KCS 4876, 22 mixed freight, 33 wells/62 containers, 16 mixed freight (9 empty autoracks).

[Edited at 14:57]

120 was into Greenville Jct. at 14:35 with 8741/9716, 44 mixed freight (5 loaded autoracks), 17 wells/24 containers, 41 empty wells.
  by CPF66
Trains are still relatively small as of late. Especially the container side of things, except for a few days a week. I am wondering what the status of future traffic is, because I know there was a CP employee on Facebook saying that the sidings at Holeb, Kyleton, and Benson were going to be put back in this year, and that there was going to be a big extension project at Moosehead. But it doesn't appear that there has been any major MOW projects ongoing besides Searsport.
  by CN9634
Trains have been running really anywhere from 7000-8000 feet, a few smaller trains in the 5000'-6000' but also some 10K+. The CMQ glory days your keep referring to ran mostly 5 days a week with 4000-6000' of train, and a lot of low-to-no revenue moves like logs.

Container business traces global economics and is cyclical... it's as easy to control the volume of that as it is to control the wind.

Right now there's a lot of rerouting of cargo going on away from Montreal, since this past week labor rejected the latest offer and hasn't had a contract since end of 2023. Also if you've not followed anything in the world, the red sea is a straight up disaster, so the Indian sub continent and southeast Asia to East Coast trades are shifting back to West Coast as the extra sailing time around Africa isn't worth the extra fuel costs. That situation will be resolved in time, since the Suez is the most critical trade lane for Asia to Europe, but any of the planned Asia to Saint John trades are off th table in the meantime.

Good time now to wrap up capacity enhancements, qualify crews (CPKC has a new class coming), get more power for NBSR and build up car supply... all things that are presently happening.

In summary -- be patient, CPKC ain't going anywhere. Also it's April, major track work doesn't typically start until May.
  by CPF66
I was just stating what I was noticing. And what happened to the 20 or so guys I thought they hired last fall? I am guessing the turnover rates haven't improved any.

As for the MOW work, generally speaking winter is when materials are dropped or staged for the summer work season. Which on the Moosehead, it doesn't appear that any such work has been done. Additionally wintertime is a great time to do ground work (like what EMR is doing at Knights) so when the thaw hits track can be built, and once things dry up it can be surfaced and fine tuned.

As for any further traffic I am still skeptical. Irving was advertising for a number of MOW and conductors positions last month and they were set to close sometime in (I think) July and they were gone a few days later. So my guess is whatever traffic they expected is going elsewhere.

But I clearly remember back around 2018-2019 just prior to the exodus of the crews in Quebec CMQ was doing great. There were times where they had to run 6-7 days a week towards the end of their tenure. Granted CPKC now has intermodal and autos, which CMQ didn't (although I think the current auto contract was negotiated under CMQ) and minimal intermodal. But CMQ was doing more carload traffic, due to the service issues with Pan Am and the longer transport times by sending cars down to NMJ. Since the CSX takeover, they have been taking more traffic away from CPKC. When CPKC is loosing the building material traffic to CSX, thats not necessarily a good sign. Or the fact that CSX is now moving some of the acid traffic and it appears Irving is now starting to pull slurry out of some place on CSX, thats also not good news for the Moosehead or the Bangor Sub.
I suppose they might get some short term business if Montreal goes on strike, but at this point as for long term contracts I would be surprised if any materialized. I mean how many times have they lost all or part of their container business? I think its 3-4 times at this point, and don't forget a few years ago they lost all of the containers and cut back to (I could be entirely wrong on this number) 3 days a week with some very short trains. And the reasons for such don't need to be mentioned again, since they have been discussed in depth previously.

As for the logs, revenue is revenue. Trucking companies are having a hard time finding drivers, and although schools are offering free CDL programs, generally speaking those individuals have a hard time finding jobs, as most insurance companies for the logging companies require you to be 25-27 and have x amount of years and miles experience. Which when your 18 and entering in the workforce, and you have to work for a company like Bisson or some other regional hauler for 7-9 years, once you hit that mark there is no point in leaving. By then you have good benefits and seniority. So railroads could likely get away with upping rates which would still in turn save the customer money in the long run. Logs may not have been high paying freight, but logs lead to finish lumber and that became true. They used to stuff the siding at Jackman and Brownville Jct. full of center beams fairly frequently. Now I think they just do a handful per week at BVJ. I hauled the forklift they had at Jackman down to AW Chaffee's shop in Clinton about 4 years ago, and I don't think I have seen any lumber cars up there since. Granted I don't work up there that frequently.
  by NHV 669
121 was into Greenville Jct. at 08:29 with 9716/8741, 27 mixed freight, 6 empty wells, 36 wells/66 containers, 8100 (DPU), 19 wells/41 containers, 34 mixed freight (16 empty autoracks).

120 was into Greenville Jct. at 14:22 with 8138, 52 mixed freight (15 loaded autoracks), KCSM 4074 (DPU), 47 wells/58 containers, 23 empty wells.
Last edited by NHV 669 on Wed Apr 24, 2024 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by Gilbert B Norman
I'd like to think that CP had measured how much potential business Eddie's little spill at Megantic would cost in the future before they decided to re-acquire the CP-M.

While there remains one customer, AFAIK it's Delta Airlines for their refinery in Phila, that has crude, HAZMAT 1267, moving by my house, it seems like such has become a "dead" source of traffic for the industry, with pipelines being laid from the "basins" to the customer's facilities.

Why the industry did not do what they had to do to handle crude safely escapes me.
  by CPF66
What happened with Lac-Megantic tied into a lack of enforcement by the regulatory agencies. Only after MMA blew up half the town, did the FRA or the TSB make any sort of effort to crack down on the railroad. And by then it was too late. Ryan Ratledge from the CMQ management did a presentation I want to say for a shortline group a few years ago and showed just how bad MMA's infrastructure was. One such bridge in Quebec ended up being replaced by CMQ, after MMA had done a quick fix by shoring up the center of the span with 8x8 wooden blocks. I think if CMQ had not happened, or had MMA somehow managed to not level a town, I doubt CP would have bit on buying the railroad back. It would have just been too much of an investment for an uncertain traffic source. And don't forget that there were actual talks in 2013 of the Moosehead being transferred to the state to become a trail.
If memory serves correct Fortress and a joint venture between Irving and Pan Am were the only two interested parties. I believe the idea was NBSR would take the Moosehead, Millinocket, Newport, Sherbrooke, Adirondack, and the two other subs, while Pan Am was going to take the KI Sub and the Millinocket Sub from Brownville to NMJ as well as the Searsport Sub(?). Those three ended up being combined to become the Bangor Sub under CMQ. The Irving/Pan Am venture fell apart for reasons unknown, and in the long run it probably would have allowed for a much more efficient operation allowing for the abandonment from Old Town east.

Without going too far into the weeds here, I am wondering how the relationship between railroads are going these days. Back in the day the Irvings and some of the Pan Am/Guilford management was very close. Jim Paterson who ended up getting fired or forced out, or something along those lines, was once on Pan Am. His family grew up with the Irvings or something along those lines. So the two railroads got along pretty good. Irving often called Pan Am to clean up their major derailments as well as had Waterville complete any major mechanical work. On the flip side Pan Am and Irving occasionally borrowed power off each other, and the track services side of Irving seemed to be the only contractor Pan Am used for tie work (for what they didn't do inhouse).

As for CMQ, Irving had a good relationship as well and often sent units to Derby for minor repairs, and once the KRS venture opened they sent their tank cars there to be cleaned. The big plus about CMQ was the two railroads pulled from the same lease pool for centerbeams and other cars. CMQ also kept a large fleet of centerbeams and company owned boxcars at Millinocket. That way when a customer called Irving and said they needed extra cars, Irving could call CMQ, and get those leased out and on the way in less than a day. Today it could be weeks before the customer gets extra cars. Irving ended up leasing a bunch of exBNSF high cubes to fill the void left by the CMQ fleet. Additionally they ended up leasing a ton of extra centerbeams for the same reason. Which I imagine they might end up with the IANR fleet before the CN takeover.

That leads to the current relationships. In the past they had service issues with CSX and thats way before CSX buying Pan Am was some half cooked railfan rumor. With the Pan Am leadership gone, I am guessing the once close knit relationship with Pan Am is over. The reason why more carload traffic is heading that way likely has to do with rates more than anything.

CPKC and Irving have butted heads over the service disruptions for 2-3 years now. Which all of that has been discussed until the water dried up here. I am not sure how Irving's relationship with CN is, but I am guessing its probably about as good as the other two railroads they interchange with. I have a feeling that the relationship they have with CSX is probably warmer at this point than it is with CPKC, after constantly getting the runaround with them on a variety of things.

I know that was all pretty out in the weeds for a topic about intermodal traffic, but I think a lot of that information will be useful as time goes on, regarding the success or shortcomings with the port. Just when Mr. Norman brought up Lac-Megantic and I started remembering the info about Irving/Pan Am's joint venture.

But just to clarify another point for Mr. Norman oil by rail is still around, but mainly it seems like it is used to transport it from rail heads, to pipelines these days. The oil trains back in 2012-2014 were just because the bakken crude was incredibly cheap and there was a massive bubble for the industry. Everyone was stocking up on the cheap crude and it was more than the pipelines could handle. But once those pipelines were built/upgraded the need for rail moves decreased. I/E Irving even before the boom took a few trains of oil per month. Today, I don't think there has been a rail move of crude to/from Saint John in over a decade. Everything comes in via ship/barge or pipeline now which is infinitely cheaper than rail. I would be surprised if there are any future moves by rail, unless there is some major developments in oil exploration technology, causing another oil boom.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Thank you so much, Mr. CPF, for sharing your knowledge of industry affairs up in that corner of the world where I just do not have much occasion to be on the ground.
  by CN9634
What you have to understand is that Saint John is the 25 year answer (mistake) to Halifax and ultimately Montreal. If you see the trajectory of CN at Halifax then you understand the potential that SJ has for CPKC. That isn't built overnight, but the interest is there and SJ can take big ships which gives it a lot of runway
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. CN, to what extent do you think the severe tides in the Bay of Fundy will have on the number of vessels that can berth and when they can call and sail from Saint John?

Halifax does not have any severe tidal conditions to my knowledge.

I would think that having two competitive railroads would be a reason for the maritime companies to prefer Saint John. Halifax has only one road - your handle!!

Be great to hear your thoughts; Mr. Cowford have you any to add?
  by NHV 669
Mr. Norman,

The tidal issues you mention have been debunked multiple times over the course of this thread; Saint John has been expanded to handle two ships at once and has already done so.

There's currently an NYK ship docked, with three more (all three being CMA CGM/Hapag traffic) scheduled to arrive between Friday and Sunday via the DP world website. This schedule is consistent for the next three weeks as well showing 4x berths per week.
  by Gilbert B Norman
So Mr. NHV; you too are an "ancient mariner" :-D :-D

But with Baltimore "on the table", I simply have to wonder if there has been a rethink as to what would happen if a vessel sailed or called, say, during the third hour of the tidal cycle - and this vessel suddenly lost power. Such could make m/v Dali incident look like that "Sunday School picnic".

Now I acknowledge my days as a Fairfield Navy Cadet ended some sixty years ago (my Father reloed to Florida and got a 50' Grand Banks as his second wife had no use for "those sailboats that feel like they are going to tip over"). As such, I haven't seen a Tidal Chart since then. But somehow, I don't think God has decided to abate the 6kt ebb or flow through the Bay of Fundy.

I don't claim to know the answer to this, but in the wake of m/v Dali, could restrictions be placed on vessels calling at St. John only when the tide has fully flooded or ebbed, or to roundly four one hour windows per day?

But, if I were a shipper, I'd welcome the opportunity to have two roads making rates from a port that can handle my stuff to anywhere in North America rather than one, which would appear the case at Halifax, and for that matter Prince Rupert.
  by CPF66
CN9634 wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:11 pm What you have to understand is that Saint John is the 25 year answer (mistake) to Halifax and ultimately Montreal. If you see the trajectory of CN at Halifax then you understand the potential that SJ has for CPKC. That isn't built overnight, but the interest is there and SJ can take big ships which gives it a lot of runway
I think my first attempt at making a reply didn't go through, so lets try it again.

I am starting to think Saint John might still be a massive mistake, but for different reasons. I get that the traffic doesn't materialize overnight, nor does the demand. I understand that. But at this point, we are going on 5 years (half a decade) since CP started marketing for it, and for the longest time they were going hard on it. But by this point, the expansion has been substantially complete for almost two years. Which yes, I get the red sea deal is an issue here. However interest seems to still be minimalistic at best, aside from the stop and drop Hapag does at Saint John, then Halifax, before going to Montreal.
As for the trajectory of Halifax, what exactly is that? Unless something has changed recently, I think CN is still only moving one dedicated intermodal train pair per day out of there. I think in comparison they are still running 2 mixed freight train pairs between Montreal and Moncton as well as the few trains of potash for SJ per week. Hardly anything groundbreaking.

Montreal still offers big advantages over SJ or Halifax since its an inland port, and I believe its similar in size to SJ. At least with the case of CPKC, they don't have the US Customs road block. The other big advantage is containers don't have to be interchanged with a Class 3. And at this point its safe to say that CSX, CPKC, or CN will never be getting trackage rights, just haulage. At this point, I think SJ could handle a niche role of accommodating high priority and time sensitive traffic, which I believe is what some of the current traffic is.

I get that the current intermodal market is a mess with the global issues. However, at this point they should have had some more bites aside from Hapag (And I think CMA if they still call there). But they haven't. And they have been at it for 4-5 years.
  by CPF66
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2024 6:54 pm I would think that having two competitive railroads would be a reason for the maritime companies to prefer Saint John. Halifax has only one road - your handle!
Halifax does have three advantages with CN. A. the intermodal stays on one railroad until Montreal. B. Traffic doesn't sit for an extended period of time on CN (I believe they do a crew change at Moncton and Edmunston) and C. They don't have the customs bottle neck to deal with. Plus the CN track speeds are much higher 50-60 mostly, if not higher. I think they can get to traffic to Montreal in the same 24 hour period, maybe even in less time than CPKC.
Gilbert B Norman wrote: But with Baltimore "on the table", I simply have to wonder if there has been a rethink as to what would happen if a vessel sailed or called, say, during the third hour of the tidal cycle - and this vessel suddenly lost power. Such could make m/v Dali incident look like that "Sunday School picnic".
The times I have been in Saint John they seem to rely on tugboats since there are navigation obstacles in the channel.
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