• Mixed Trains in North America

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Pensyfan19
 
Does anyone happen to know if there are any shortlines, class II, or maybe even class Is which still run mixed passenger and freight operations? If not, could it be possible for these railroads to do so by buying old coach cars from anyone who is selling them and use them for once-daily mixed train service consisting of at least one passenger car, some freight cars if necessary, and literally anything for power?
For example, would it be possible for BNSF to run a mixed train from Fargo, ND to Nolan, ND (not this line specifically) with a GP38, any necessary freight cars for the branch, and at least one coach car, possibly retired from Amtrak or a commuter railroad?
  by RRspatch
 
Nope, nope and further more .... NOPE.

The freight railroads have ZERO interest in getting back into the passenger business.

Lets look at a couple of reasons why this would not work -

1) Where would they get these coaches from? I'm pretty sure most of Amtrak's heritage coaches were cut up.
2) How would they power these cars? A generator on a flat car for head-end power?
3) Three words - Americans with Disability Act. Ok, that's four words.
4) Lawyers. In the case of a derailment equipment can be repaired or scrapped. People are VERY expensive to repair. "Were you injured in a train wreck? Call me at 1-800-sue-them". Nope, Nope, Nope and further more NOPE. This alone is why the freight railroads want NOTHING to do with hauling people.
5) Added cost to maintain these cars. The freight railroads got rid of cabooses years ago. Now you want to hang a passenger car on the rear?
6) What happens if the train has a haz-mat car or is a Key Train?
7) What happens if switching takes longer than expected (happens a lot) and the crew outlaws? Sometimes you call a dogcatch crew and other times you tie the train down and taxi to the back to the terminal. What happens to the passengers?

I'm sure others can add more reasons why your idea won't work. Of course I doubt any of this will change your mind as you seem to be fixated on this subject. You certainly have a one track mind (pun intended).

BTW - I worked on the freight side for 21 years so I know about the things I pointed out above.

My advice - get over it .....
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
There are a few mixed freights in northern Ontario and Manitoba:

- Ontario Northland to Monsonee

- Keewatin Railway (a coach mixed inside the freight consist - very limited amenities)

- The Hudson Bay to Churchill

Depending on semantics, the Three Rivers (1996-2005), Kentucky Cardinal and Lake Country Limited could be considered "mixed". The latter two had a coach tagged on to qualify for passenger service.
  by ExCon90
 
Just to add 8) to RRspatch's post above:

Freight trains leave from and arrive at major freight yards; would passengers have to be escorted to and from the proper track in the departure and arrival yards? (North Platte comes to mind.)

9) Who would ride a mixed train today?
  by RRspatch
 
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:22 am There are a few mixed freights in northern Ontario and Manitoba:

- Ontario Northland to Monsonee
I believe Ontario subsidies this train. Liability laws might be different in Canada and suing someone/company to pay for your medical bills isn't a thing up there from what I hear. See my note No.4 above.
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:22 am - Keewatin Railway (a coach mixed inside the freight consist - very limited amenities)
I don't know enough about this one to comment.
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:22 am - The Hudson Bay to Churchill
This is a regularly scheduled VIA Rail Canada train. Unless you count canoes and camping supplies in the baggage car I would hardly call this a mixed train.
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:22 am Depending on semantics, the Three Rivers (1996-2005), Kentucky Cardinal and Lake Country Limited could be considered "mixed". The latter two had a coach tagged on to qualify for passenger service.
These were all regularly scheduled Amtrak trains that fell under the "express" criteria of the original Amtrak/railpax act. None the less the freight railroads were not very happy about this and I tend to think that was one of the reasons these trains were dropped. Another thing is these trains ran under Amtrak's liability/insurance and NOT the freight railroads. See my note No.4 above.
  by Pensyfan19
 
I just started this thread since some passenger service, even if it is once daily mixed service in some rural areas of the country, would be better than complete isolation from the rest of the rail system. It would also serve as a connection to other larger passenger trains ran by amtrak or others as well. Passengers could ride in either a passenger car or caboose of necessary, similar to how the class Is did it back in the day.
  by NRGeep
 
And emerging passenger submarines will install screen doors to optimize the experience!
Sarcasm aside, I would love to witness 21st century mixed trains, yet for the numerous valid reasons mentioned above it is not remotely realistic for big carriers. Perhaps short lines would have more legal leeway? But would any want to venture into that potential liability headache?
  by CHTT1
 
The question is, who would ride such a train? This is the 21st Century, not 1880 or even 1920. Nobody os gping to ride a train that runs on "we go when we schedule," stops every now and then to a do an hour or two of switching and has absolutely no passenger comforts. There are a couple of mixed train remnanents in parts of Canada without paved roads, but there's nowhere in the U.S., even Alaska, that can't be reached by road (or in extreme cases, air). You could probably get an Uber or Lyft to take you to even the most remote places in the U.S.
  by mtuandrew
 
European (including Britain) and East Asian countries generally do great at high-frequency, fast, short-distance passenger service on a strict timetable. That means greater than 60 mph/100kmh, and hourly or better trains. Freight has to fit into their schedule, which means short and fast - they could operate as mixed trains but there’s already plenty of passenger service.

America and Canada (and increasingly, Mexico) do great at heavy, long-distance, low-to-mid speed freight traveling at the most efficient times. That means ideally 80+ cars behind three locomotives, between 30 and 60 mph (50 to 100kmh), only stopping for crew changes or switching at the direction of their dispatcher. Amtrak and VIA try to match that schedule with relatively big (7-10 cars) off-Corridor trains that travel long distances and tend to offer baggage service. On the Corridor, it’s closer to the Euro model but still uses heavier equipment (more like Eastern Europe.) A mixed train just wouldn’t stop at the right places at consistent times, and a bus would haul the same number of people easily twice as fast.

Mixed service might still work in a less-differentiated railroad system without a robust highway system. India and South Africa are trying to move to the East Asian model, Australia to the American model, Russia operates by both models in different areas, not sure about other South American, west Asian, or African systems, and I honestly don’t know what’s happening in China except that its state railroad system is massive and has a number of different types of roads.
  by Greg Moore
 
My initial thoughts are "nope" just wouldn't work, for many of the reasons given above.

A huge one is, for most locations, folks want to know when they're getting there. Amtrak is bad enough, but as others have said, imagine outlawing o a mixed frieght!

But it dawned on me, this is one area where precision railroading almost might make this possible. Shorter freight trains on a more regular, fixed, and tight schedule. Of course adding passengers interferes with those goals. But it's about the only way I could see making it work.

But.. it won't.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
CHTT1 wrote: Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:01 pmThere are a couple of mixed train remnants in parts of Canada without paved roads, but there's nowhere in the U.S., even Alaska, that can't be reached by road (or in extreme cases, air). You could probably get an Uber or Lyft to take you to even the most remote places in the U.S.
Any villages or hamlets in U.S. accessible *only* by rail? Perhaps some in the western states?

I know one village in Ontario, Moose River is accessible by Ontario Northland several times weekly and has a population of 2(!) Moosonee has 1,725 residents and is probably the largest town in North America to be served remotely by rail (the local Northern Mart supermarket gets rail deliveries each week).

There are also small villages and camping/fishing lodges along the Sudbury-White River RDC and the now suspended Algoma Central served exclusively by rail.
  by Pensyfan19
 
What about restoring the Newfoundland Railway and the Prince Edward Island railway and maybe a few lines in remote parts of North America which need rail service such as parts of Nova Scotia, parts of the Midwest (KS, OK, ND, MN, MT) and even in some parts of the south (WV, GA, SC, NC, TN).
  by mtuandrew
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:51 pm What about restoring the Newfoundland Railway and the Prince Edward Island railway and maybe a few lines in remote parts of North America which need rail service such as parts of Nova Scotia, parts of the Midwest (KS, OK, ND, MN, MT) and even in some parts of the south (WV, GA, SC, NC, TN).
The “what about” is roads. All the places you mention have lots of roads, and lots of cars to use them. What they don’t have is money to rebuild rail lines from scratch.
R36 Combine Coach wrote: Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:17 amAny villages or hamlets in U.S. accessible *only* by rail? Perhaps some in the western states?

I know one village in Ontario, Moose River is accessible by Ontario Northland several times weekly and has a population of 2(!) Moosonee has 1,725 residents and is probably the largest town in North America to be served remotely by rail (the local Northern Mart supermarket gets rail deliveries each week).

There are also small villages and camping/fishing lodges along the Sudbury-White River RDC and the now suspended Algoma Central served exclusively by rail.
Outside of Alaska and possibly a few in British Columbia (there’s a Travel Reports thread about the motorcar route on the former BC Rail line), I think you named them all.
  by wigwagfan
 
With a caveat, I know of one in my neighborhood. I have ridden a Mount Hood Railroad mixed train - our trip south from Hood River did carry empty centerbeams for Mount Hood Lumber Company and on the return trip we picked up some loads to haul back to Hood River for interchange with UP.

That said, the MH is currently included in Iowa Pacific's bankruptcy, but they have advertised weekend excursion trains this month and next month. Also my experience was a number of years ago, so I'm not sure if MH still continues the practice. Nor do I know exactly how often MH ran a mixed train, because none of my other trips on the railroad hauled freight - strictly passenger only; while the one time I railfanned an MH freight train was just that, a freight train.

None of the other excursion railroads in my area (western Oregon/Washington) actively haul freight on the lines where excursion operations occur.
  by wigwagfan
 
Pensyfan19 wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:15 pmIf not, could it be possible for these railroads to do so by buying old coach cars from anyone who is selling them and use them for once-daily mixed train service consisting of at least one passenger car, some freight cars if necessary, and literally anything for power?
I don't know of any shortline around here that wants to upgrade its track to Class 3 in order to have its trains run fast enough to compete with a government subsidized bus travelling at 55 MPH on a directly parallel highway. In fact my largest shortline railroad, the Portland & Western Railroad, is slowing freight trains down so many of its trains travel no faster than 20 MPH, the exception being on the 15 miles of track shared with WES.

A good example would be the Willamina Branch - it's typically an hour long ride from McMinnville to Sheridan by train (if not longer) but barely 20 minutes by bus. The bus could literally make a single round-trip in the time the train goes one way.