Vermont Activity and Sightings

Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

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CN9634
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2004 5:50 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by CN9634 »

csx2039 wrote:
CN9634 wrote:
CN9634 wrote:
csx2039 wrote:
CN9634 wrote:Its much too early to pass judgement and its not like everyone here understands how to manage customers, people and equipment while conforming to all rules and regulations.
I challenge that
Listen, they aren't going to create a substantial change over night and they are just getting through their first winter in Maine... as much as the employees are used to it, management is not. They are adjusting their strategy and doing certain things very slowly, and others quite rapidly. They made some investment this past year and have some more on the books for this year. Also, there are some more freight customers in the pipeline as well so give them more time. I would say after the second year you could probably tell whether or not they are going to whiff on this. And they still have the ace up their sleeve if they are looking to seriously pursue the blessing & a curse crude oil traffic. Give it time. Besides, what is your measure of performance? They may be missing service in the short term but right on track with other projects and concerns of higher priorities. You'll hear prioritization a lot in this industry and sadly other places can suffer from it. The goal of the Vermont operation may not be indicative of the goal of the system as a whole, as I have heard nothing but good service reports for customers in Maine and Quebec.
Try talking to Vermont customers and you'll sing a different tune. The damage has already been done.
So lets say you manage an operation with 60 customers and you have enough resources to really handle 50 - 55. Where do you cut back? Vermont is a small finger with sadly, a low priority amount of freight. And they seem to be trying to remedy this with VRS now handling local work in Vermont. Also, they are still working on more traffic through this gateway

csx2039
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:27 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by csx2039 »

I agree with you there, Its about time they sell Vermont to somebody who can and who cares, Ive never seen a company "plan to fail" as bad and as often as they are. Piss poor decisions day after day, week after week. Customers have been told 5 day per week service and CMQ is averaging 2. Cars sitting not making connections. The traffic wants to grow, its there. They just keep squashing it. Customers are starting to think that they are doing this intentionally as am I...
Shame on you CMQ...

CN9634
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2004 5:50 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by CN9634 »

csx2039 wrote:I agree with you there, Its about time they sell Vermont to somebody who can and who cares, Ive never seen a company "plan to fail" as bad and as often as they are. Piss poor decisions day after day, week after week. Customers have been told 5 day per week service and CMQ is averaging 2. Cars sitting not making connections. The traffic wants to grow, its there. They just keep squashing it. Customers are starting to think that they are doing this intentionally as am I...
Shame on you CMQ...
If you understood or knew folks in this operation, you would know that the management isn't planning to fail.... sometimes there are disconnects between on the grounds operations and planned ops... trust me I live this everyday. I can also tell you there is a disconnect between the Canadian operations and the US operations in terms of management. Just because you don't see things happening on the ground doesn't mean that the management folks aren't planning it that way or trying to change it. Don't make assumptions based on your operations, they are aware of the issues and are seeking remedies to this. Also don't think this small sliver of RR you see is indicative of the entire outfit, because it's not

csx2039
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:27 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by csx2039 »

Its quite a shame that the trustee could have sold the Newport sub separate to VRS as they wanted it. Fortress to get the rest. This would have been best with CMQ still getting the line haul they want over the east/west line if and when this dreamed up business ever appears.
I can guaranty you would see the line making at least a small profit. The customer base is there. It just needs some nurturing. This will NEVER happen under CMQ.

MM&A was breaking even with this line, they provided good service but the problem with MM&A was they turned away potential local business. I knew this line was in trouble as soon as I heard Fortress was the winning bidder. The first mistake they made was getting rid of a dedicated, dependable, customer oriented roadswitcher crew based out of Newport. All this for a much more expensive, lazy, arrogant, unionized crew out of Farnham, whom of which hates coming to the US and is Vowing to make sure that any plan doesn't work. They are not going to be told what to do. CMQ bullheadedly put this plan into fruition without talking to customers and people on the ground or really thinking about the consequences and now customers on this line and whom may have overhead traffic routed this way are suffering badly. The reason they wanted to do this was for power utilization, yet another example of jumping over a dollar to save a penny. And another reason why if you can't s@#t, get off the pot.

The sooner they sell the vermont operations the better. For the sake of the suffering customers. They may have a plan that works great for Maine but Vermont sucks. BAD

Zeke
Posts: 652
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Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by Zeke »

It appears we will never again see the likes of John W.Barriger, Al Perleman or Louis Menk, dyed in the wool Railroad Executives that could turn a streak of rust road into powerhouse in six quarters or less.

csx2039
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:27 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by csx2039 »

The sad part is the potential is right there waiting to be grasped, but some people are so set on doing it their way, rather then doing it the right way. As an investment company you are going to get a much better return on your investment with a line full of satisfied customers paying for the lines up keep, Rather then a bunch of customers that hate your guts and think your the worst railroad they have ever seen. (They have mills on other railroads too!). Its not rocket science, Lay off or reutilize the farnham crew, Put a crew back on at Newport, lease a unit from VRS, and watch the traffic and profits grow...

CN9634
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2004 5:50 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by CN9634 »

csx2039 wrote:Its quite a shame that the trustee could have sold the Newport sub separate to VRS as they wanted it. Fortress to get the rest. This would have been best with CMQ still getting the line haul they want over the east/west line if and when this dreamed up business ever appears.
I can guaranty you would see the line making at least a small profit. The customer base is there. It just needs some nurturing. This will NEVER happen under CMQ.

MM&A was breaking even with this line, they provided good service but the problem with MM&A was they turned away potential local business. I knew this line was in trouble as soon as I heard Fortress was the winning bidder. The first mistake they made was getting rid of a dedicated, dependable, customer oriented roadswitcher crew based out of Newport. All this for a much more expensive, lazy, arrogant, unionized crew out of Farnham, whom of which hates coming to the US and is Vowing to make sure that any plan doesn't work. They are not going to be told what to do. CMQ bullheadedly put this plan into fruition without talking to customers and people on the ground or really thinking about the consequences and now customers on this line and whom may have overhead traffic routed this way are suffering badly. The reason they wanted to do this was for power utilization, yet another example of jumping over a dollar to save a penny. And another reason why if you can't s@#t, get off the pot.

The sooner they sell the vermont operations the better. For the sake of the suffering customers. They may have a plan that works great for Maine but Vermont sucks. BAD

The sad part is the potential is right there waiting to be grasped, but some people are so set on doing it their way, rather then doing it the right way. As an investment company you are going to get a much better return on your investment with a line full of satisfied customers paying for the lines up keep, Rather then a bunch of customers that hate your guts and think your the worst railroad they have ever seen. (They have mills on other railroads too!). Its not rocket science, Lay off or reutilize the farnham crew, Put a crew back on at Newport, lease a unit from VRS, and watch the traffic and profits grow...
Do you know anything about running a railroad? Your posts don't seem to contribute anything more than an opinion and one that is incorrect based off some preliminary observations. Be patient and wait... even if the customers are screaming and hollering now it may be nothing more than a dull memory this time next year.

csx2039
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:27 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by csx2039 »

Lets just say I know a lot more then you wish I did, Lets try not to make it personal, thanks

CN9634
Posts: 2361
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2004 5:50 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by CN9634 »

csx2039 wrote:Lets just say I know a lot more then you wish I did, Lets try not to make it personal, thanks
The question was not posed to be a jerk, it was posed at face value, do you? I only ask because your post indicates you do yet I don't see anything reasonably posted here that can positively contribute to the longevity of this line other than 'lease some engines, hire better crews, provide better customer service and talk to the customer more directly'. Well clearly these are obvious to say about any outfit, but do you know the full issues here? Typically a larger issues has many underlying layers that aren't readily seen or known to the public.

Furthermore, you slander the railroad that isn't even a year old and the people who run it. Keep in mind there are still many employees at CMQ who come from MMA and even CDAC days. They are hard working people who have done their best keep the line going. Also keep in mind that a lot of them lost their morale after the accident...it was no light event. I've had the pleasure of meeting some of these folks and I can tell you, no one is plotting the downfall of the Newport sub as your conspiracy theories tend to indicate. And perhaps there are disgruntled employees somewhere who hate doing their job... welcome the the transportation industry (I deal with this every day). These things don't go unnoticed for long...

Do you work for an investment company or have any experience with investments proper? Clearly they are looking for a great return but they know how to manage assets... or else they wouldn't be a large multinational investment company. Maybe they have some kind of underlying strategy (It's actually a 3-year plan and I've seen it) that is focused on working on some key issues they've identified? You need a stable foundation before you build a house sir.

And the bit about not talking to customers? Also not true. Giles has been to VT in person -- a few times now.

Any other erroneous claims?

csx2039
Posts: 130
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Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by csx2039 »

You sound as if your more interested in protecting the reputation of a faltering company rather then admitting to the facts, I work for a customer of CMQ and have not seen Giles yet. You can twist the truth all you want but CMQ is breaking promises, delaying cars, and raising rates on already poor service. Get down on the ground and open your eyes sir...

CN9634
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Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2004 5:50 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by CN9634 »

csx2039 wrote:You sound as if your more interested in protecting the reputation of a faltering company rather then admitting to the facts, I work for a customer of CMQ and have not seen Giles yet. You can twist the truth all you want but CMQ is breaking promises, delaying cars, and raising rates on already poor service. Get down on the ground and open your eyes sir...
Sounds like you might be slightly biased based on your one experience with CMQ through your company and I'm sorry to hear about that. I hope the situation improves. Prioritization is a strategic decisions that we have to make everyday from a transportation management perspective and as much as I hate it (And trust me I do) we are all really good at implementing a 'one size fits all' solution to our shippers. Well one size does not fit all and sadly there is always a customer that suffers. I have to tell customers everyday that we aren't going to get their freight delivered on time because of a host of reasons, and often I have to make the decisions about 'spreading the pain' or satisfying the small number of customers that provide the huge volumes that pay most of the bills. That means I've made financial decisions for that company without hardly blinking an eye... and I don't lose sleep over it. Perhaps your company should look into reasonable alternatives, such as a transload site down the road on VRS or another mode for your supply chain needs. I think it was Jack Welch who said something along the lines of a company that fails to innovate is a company that dies. The CMQ is working on some innovations that hopefully will get them solidly planted on the ground.

dnelson
Posts: 165
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:45 pm

Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by dnelson »

CN9634 wrote:
csx2039 wrote:You sound as if your more interested in protecting the reputation of a faltering company rather then admitting to the facts, I work for a customer of CMQ and have not seen Giles yet. You can twist the truth all you want but CMQ is breaking promises, delaying cars, and raising rates on already poor service. Get down on the ground and open your eyes sir...
Sounds like you might be slightly biased based on your one experience with CMQ through your company and I'm sorry to hear about that. I hope the situation improves. Prioritization is a strategic decisions that we have to make everyday from a transportation management perspective and as much as I hate it (And trust me I do) we are all really good at implementing a 'one size fits all' solution to our shippers. Well one size does not fit all and sadly there is always a customer that suffers. I have to tell customers everyday that we aren't going to get their freight delivered on time because of a host of reasons, and often I have to make the decisions about 'spreading the pain' or satisfying the small number of customers that provide the huge volumes that pay most of the bills. That means I've made financial decisions for that company without hardly blinking an eye... and I don't lose sleep over it. Perhaps your company should look into reasonable alternatives, such as a transload site down the road on VRS or another mode for your supply chain needs. I think it was Jack Welch who said something along the lines of a company that fails to innovate is a company that dies. The CMQ is working on some innovations that hopefully will get them solidly planted on the ground.
I hope you're right. Given everything their milage has been through with previous owners, it's about time a company makes things sustainably work for the longterm future.

I would like to know what some of these innovations you claim CMQ has up their sleeve are, though. From my perspective, you sound biased in favor of the railroad based on stuff that may or may not happen in the future, while csx2039 is reporting first hand on current service from CMQ being unprecedentedly inadequate, biased or not. Your point about there being "many employees at CMQ who come from MMA and even CDAC days" is worth noting. Clearly the decline in customer service isn't the result of tons of new employees replacing the experienced MMA guys.

From my perspective, the statement from customers claiming they were receiving better service from MMA is alarming. It suggests that CMQ is doing the opposite of what CEO Giles claimed early in the railroad's existence. That the railroad would provide "a new corporate culture that focuses on serving the needs of the railroad’s industrial customers." http://www.pressherald.com/2014/09/10/o ... rail-line/

Giles even went as far as specifying CMQ would improve things in Vermont, claiming: "faster service for customers and lower labor costs per trip. A trip from Farnham, Quebec, to northern Vermont, which typically takes two days with the slower locomotives, soon will be made in one." - wait, he said faster service for customers?

"Giles also is increasing the size of the sales and marketing staff" - How important is this to customers compared to having their freight moved with relative efficiency and consistency?

One final quote from the article: "[Giles] pointed to the discarded metal hidden in the weeds along the tracks.
The rusted pieces of rail and old train parts look like trash, but Giles says the iron is worth money as scrap. In fact, he said, there’s valuable junk strewn all along the railroad’s tracks.
'There’s $3 million just lying around,' he said with a laugh." -- That laugh concerns me. The glee this man publicly displays when talking about scrapping railroad infrastructure doesn't sit well with me, especially since that's one thing in the article that we know the railroad legitimately has been doing.

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MEC407
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Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by MEC407 »

dnelson wrote:Giles even went as far as specifying CMQ would improve things in Vermont, claiming: "faster service for customers and lower labor costs per trip. A trip from Farnham, Quebec, to northern Vermont, which typically takes two days with the slower locomotives, soon will be made in one." - wait, he said faster service for customers?
"Slower locomotives" — what the hell does that even mean? If your tracks are only good for 10 MPH, it doesn't matter whether you're running GP7s or B23-7s or SD70ACes. Pan Am is a perfect example — it takes them 8+ hours to get from Rigby to Waterville regardless of whether they're using a set of wheezing 300s or a set of brand new BNSF ES44s.
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dnelson
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Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by dnelson »

MEC407 wrote:
dnelson wrote:Giles even went as far as specifying CMQ would improve things in Vermont, claiming: "faster service for customers and lower labor costs per trip. A trip from Farnham, Quebec, to northern Vermont, which typically takes two days with the slower locomotives, soon will be made in one." - wait, he said faster service for customers?
"Slower locomotives" — what the hell does that even mean? If your tracks are only good for 10 MPH, it doesn't matter whether you're running GP7s or B23-7s or SD70ACes. Pan Am is a perfect example — it takes them 8+ hours to get from Rigby to Waterville regardless of whether they're using a set of wheezing 300s or a set of brand new BNSF ES44s.
Good question ! and good example. It's strange how Giles comes off seeming like he does not understand very basic aspects of railroading. Giles has stated that the maximum speed throughout the CMQ system will be 25MPH, yet he is then quoted about spending over $10 million on "track upgrades and 'faster locomotives' to bring the historically troubled line to profitability." If speed is that important to him, why limit the entire railroad to 25MPH?

As for the supposedly "faster" locomotives, even though they'll never be able to legally run close to their maximum speed on the CMQ system anyway, the GP20Ds actually aren't any faster than the old stuff. Maximum speed of a GP20D is listed as 70MPH, maximum speed of a B23-7 is listed as 70MPH, max speed of a C30-7 also 70MPH, max speed of an SD40-2 not far behind at 65MPH. Giles's statements not only make no sense, but are also factually inaccurate. I can't think of another time I've heard a top official of a regional railroad prioritize locomotive running speed over horsepower, reliability, four vs six axle, availability of replacement parts, etc. etc.

Obviously he has enough railroad experience to know better than what he said, but I wonder who he is trying to dumb himself down for and why? The people who care about that sort of thing aren't the type to be dumbed down to.

CN9634
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Re: More CMQ troubles

Post by CN9634 »

dnelson wrote: I hope you're right. Given everything their milage has been through with previous owners, it's about time a company makes things sustainably work for the longterm future.
That is the plan and key word... sustainable
dnelson wrote:I would like to know what some of these innovations you claim CMQ has up their sleeve are, though. From my perspective, you sound biased in favor of the railroad based on stuff that may or may not happen in the future, while csx2039 is reporting first hand on current service from CMQ being unprecedentedly inadequate, biased or not. Your point about there being "many employees at CMQ who come from MMA and even CDAC days" is worth noting. Clearly the decline in customer service isn't the result of tons of new employees replacing the experienced MMA guys.
Lot of MMA guys left before the oil boom (No pun intended...) and the outfit almost sold out to Giles in 2010. Funny thing about customers is that they are always right from their perspective... they have a single need to get product. Now take that one angry customer and multiply it by 60 spread across 500 miles. How about you try to manage that? This may be one of the unfortunate bad cases but other than problems in Vermont I have not heard of any significant issues. Once again, who turns over carloads and is one of the biggest customers on the RR? Probably Tafisa doesn't have many issues or GAC.
dnelson wrote:From my perspective, the statement from customers claiming they were receiving better service from MMA is alarming. It suggests that CMQ is doing the opposite of what CEO Giles claimed early in the railroad's existence. That the railroad would provide "a new corporate culture that focuses on serving the needs of the railroad’s industrial customers." http://www.pressherald.com/2014/09/10/o ... rail-line/
One perspective from one customer. There are many more out there. Also, rome wasn't built in a day.. consider the operational challenges between the US and Canadian operations. Probably hard to do so if you don't know a lot of the underlying issues behind the scenes. They are being worked on... be patient
dnelson wrote:Giles even went as far as specifying CMQ would improve things in Vermont, claiming: "faster service for customers and lower labor costs per trip. A trip from Farnham, Quebec, to northern Vermont, which typically takes two days with the slower locomotives, soon will be made in one." - wait, he said faster service for customers?
You are getting this from a newspaper article... consider the audience is those who aren't adept on things railroad I'm sure Giles watered it down. Did you read his bio? The one where he started out as an engineer on the B&O and worked his way up? I'm sure he knows a lot more about trains and railroading than you or I.
dnelson wrote:"Giles also is increasing the size of the sales and marketing staff" - How important is this to customers compared to having their freight moved with relative efficiency and consistency?
Extremely important. Marketing and sales people often serve as the personal go to for the customer and having more of them helps work through issues. If you don't think they are aware of the issues in Vermont and working to do something about it then you are mistaken. Also don't act like it isn't a two way street because it is. I have customers who are on a daily basis ignoring messages and creating their own issues that I need to deal with... and yes, I'm always wrong because I'm the carrier. This may not be the case here but don't take everything as you hear it.
dnelson wrote:One final quote from the article: "[Giles] pointed to the discarded metal hidden in the weeds along the tracks.
The rusted pieces of rail and old train parts look like trash, but Giles says the iron is worth money as scrap. In fact, he said, there’s valuable junk strewn all along the railroad’s tracks.
'There’s $3 million just lying around,' he said with a laugh." -- That laugh concerns me. The glee this man publicly displays when talking about scrapping railroad infrastructure doesn't sit well with me, especially since that's one thing in the article that we know the railroad legitimately has been doing.
The guy is here to make a dinosaur dance. You are disgusted that he scraps out derelict and defunct lines that probably won't see a whole lot more action but will help get a new railroad off the ground? Sorry, railfans fantasies probably weren't taken into consideration when making this decision. The only scrapping issues I had were parts of 'Nocket yard and sidings on the Moosehead. Even then, there isn't any use for those right now and without collecting the $$ to scrap those sections it is entirely possible we wouldn't have any kind of railroad. Please start a crowdfund to save the dormant sidings if you take that much offense from it.

I'm glad you asked and I can outline quite a few innovations! First let's look at the MMA

Profitable 3 out of 12 years
Only Innovation was 1-man crews and some minor tech stuff
Had some decent growth early on and good ideas, but eventually a lot of the veterans migrated to other places (SLR, PAR come to mind)

CMQ Innovations:
PAR-NBSR traffic sharing
Dispatching outsourced
mCrew implementation
Increase speeds for greater crew utilization
GP20D locos (which haven't been as great as they'd hoped this winter)
More office staffing
Not using Derby and contracting out fueling/heavy repair

Remember they are now back to two man crews as well which the MMA was largely abolishing. And I know you are going to take issue with the GP20Ds and the shutdown of Derby.... but get over it. This RR is doing things differently and you can't deny that. Yes, they are facing some challenges but give it at least two years before you say whether it is sink or swim time. Also keep in mind there are a lot of changes internally that you don't and won't see. I can give you another alternative situation here... no railroad. So you pick one

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