Sponsor Message:
Non Aviation Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Why Only Four National Rail Roads In The US?  
User currently offline747400sp From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3758 posts, RR: 2
Posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2086 times:

I read, that a large amount of the US cargo, such as containers and coal, is shipped by trains. Giant container ships, that are loaded with containers, make calls at US ports, and most of these containers are transferred to stack trains, and moved coast to coast and north to south. Now in the US, there is only four large national rail roads, UP, BNSF NS and CSX. These four RR, are making money, and it seems like a decent ideal, for a new company, to lay new tracks and take advantage of the growth of cargo in the US, so why nobody else is trying to start a national rail road?

36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineKFLLCFII From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 3311 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2065 times:

The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) handles the overwhelming majority of cargo and goods railed through South Florida versus CSX, and it will only get better for them when the current projects resurrecting direct rail service to the Port of Miami, and a closer intermodal terminal inside Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), are completed in the next few years.

This is to coincide with the completion of the expansion of the Panama Canal.



"About the only way to look at it, just a pity you are not POTUS KFLLCFII, seems as if we would all be better off."
User currently offlineredflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4376 posts, RR: 28
Reply 2, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2033 times:

I'm no expert, but it would appear that "laying new track" would be an extremely expensive proposition. Laying the track itself wouldn't necessarily be cost-prohibitive, but purchasing easements/rights-of-way on land that the tracks would have to pass through would be too costly. And I don't think a railroad could invoke imminent domain the way land developers do in cahoots with local governments to take over property for an alternative use.

But I don't think laying new track would be necessary as I believe RR's use each other's tracks regularly and just pay a user fee, or something like that.



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7279 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2009 times:

There are some others like Florida East Coast.

Quoting redflyer (Reply 2):


As redflyer posted railroads sure are expensive to build. All the land rights which would need to be purchased for the risk of maybe being able to do better than the other companies already there. Honestly 4 large competing companies in a rail system which you really had to get yours hands on by the 1950s is not too bad. At least there are four large companies.

I just think starting a railroad would be very very expensive to start. May not be worth the risk. It would also be very difficult to start with getting cities, towns and states to OK the projects.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineEMBQA From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 9364 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1984 times:

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
Now in the US, there is only four large national rail roads, UP, BNSF NS and CSX.

Define a 'National' Railroad....??? UP and BNSF have no rail east of the Mississippi. CSX and NS have no rail west of the Mississippi. That hardly makes them national.

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
and it seems like a decent ideal, for a new company, to lay new tracks and take advantage of the growth of cargo in the US

The upstart would cost trillions of dollars to buy the land and right aways to lay new track.

[Edited 2012-01-25 17:31:59]


"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
User currently offlinePyrex From Portugal, joined Aug 2005, 4069 posts, RR: 30
Reply 5, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1952 times:

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
Now in the US, there is only four large national rail roads

That is still, what, 3 more than in pretty much every other country in the world?



Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!
User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8977 posts, RR: 39
Reply 6, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1946 times:

According to someone I met from NS, laying down tracks costs about $2 million a mile.

Other than that, the network is mostly built, so there is little need to lay more tracks. All four main companies (and the smaller ones) operate on each other's tracks through agreements and even swap tracks between themselves.



"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7279 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 1924 times:

Quoting PPVRA (Reply 6):
According to someone I met from NS, laying down tracks costs about $2 million a mile.

Wow, if that number is true just 500 miles of track which would be nothing for a large railroad carrying frieght cost
$1,000,000,000. So One billion dollars. That pretty much sums it up, not many people/companies want to spend billions on a brand new business.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineA346Dude From Canada, joined Nov 2004, 1299 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 1921 times:

Canadian Pacific and Canadian National are also big players in the US. Then there are tons of regionals and short lines.


You know the gear is up and locked when it takes full throttle to taxi to the terminal.
User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8977 posts, RR: 39
Reply 9, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 1914 times:

Quoting flymia (Reply 7):

It's doable if it makes sense. But most of the lines are already built, so why sink in another bil. . .

Quoting A346Dude (Reply 8):
Canadian Pacific and Canadian National are also big players in the US. Then there are tons of regionals and short lines.

I've seen them in the Atlanta area.



"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineAirstud From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 2774 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1892 times:

I can often see the TC&W from my window. (Well, only in the winter, when the leaves are off the trees...)


Pancakes are delicious.
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 11, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 1874 times:

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
most of these containers are transferred to stack trains, and moved coast to coast and north to south.

Most containers don't move extremely long distances. They move a few hundred miles.

Quoting redflyer (Reply 2):
Laying the track itself wouldn't necessarily be cost-prohibitive, but purchasing easements/rights-of-way on land that the tracks would have to pass through would be too costly.
Quoting flymia (Reply 7):
Quoting PPVRA (Reply 6):According to someone I met from NS, laying down tracks costs about $2 million a mile.

Wow, if that number is true just 500 miles of track which would be nothing for a large railroad carrying frieght cost
$1,000,000,000. So One billion dollars. That

That $2 million per mile is laying new track on existing right of way the railroad already owns. It can cost 2 or 3 times that to lay new track, from right of way purchase to sub-roadbed work, etc.

Think of this also.

There are only a very few rail bridges across the Mississippi River south of St Louis

2 in St Louis - Terminal Rail Road Company of St Louis

1 at Thebes, Ill - UP

2 at Memphis (3 tracks - 2 UP, 1 BNSF)

1 at Vicksburg, MS - KCS

1 at Baton Rouge - KCS

1 at New Orleans - New Orleans Public Belt Railroad

The latest of these completed was in Baton Rouge in 1940

Several like the bridge in New Orleans also carries road traffic. Completed in 1935, a modernization of the vehicle lanes is underway at a budgeted cost of $1.2 billion.

Building a new Mississippi River bridge could easily exceed $2 billion.

Unlike airlines, railroads have to build their own infrastructure.

If airlines had to build their own airports, we would see a lot fewer startup airlines.


User currently offlineArrow From Canada, joined Jun 2002, 2676 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 1831 times:

Quoting A346Dude (Reply 8):
Canadian Pacific and Canadian National are also big players in the US. Then there are tons of regionals and short lines.

CN's US presence is almost as big as its Canadian presence. They are slowly growing what will eventually be a huge container flow that starts at a new (and rapidly expanding) container port at Prince Rupert and carries Asian cargo to Chicago and down to Memphis. Prince Rupert is three days sailing closer to Shanghai than LA/Long Beach and has no congestion at all.



Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9755 posts, RR: 31
Reply 13, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 1822 times:

There's another class 1 RR - kansas City Southern whoich owns also a large Mexican operation as well as a RR in Panama.

The existing carriers upgrade their mainlines to double tracking, new sidings, or even triple track like UP in nebraska. Or NS has enlarged tunnels so that stack trains can operate on more routes in their network.



Es saugt und blaest der Heinzelmann wo Mutti sonst nur blasen kann. Frueher war mehr Lametta.
User currently offlinedl021 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 11447 posts, RR: 75
Reply 14, posted (2 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 1746 times:

The infrastructure present supports the business available. When more is required, and the risk of building more/spending more outweighs the risk of not doing so then more will be built. After the massive consolidations of the last 30 years of the 20th century for rail I'm surprised that we still have 5 class 1 railroads. The room for growth in this industry is in regional companies that will have to lease space on trackage owned by the big companies.


Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
User currently offlineNoWorries From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 1741 times:

The other thing to keep in mind is that there used to be quite a few large regional railroads, but the number has dropped due to mergers. Old classics like B&O or Pennsylvania no longer exist as separate roads -- they are part of larger systems now.

There are places where existing track is close to capacity -- for example, the mid-Atlantic region -- where new capacity would be welcome. Acquiring the land is the problem. In the early days of railroad, the government gave away huge tracts of land as an incentive to build -- not really an option now.


User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 16, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 1707 times:

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 13):
Kansas City Southern

The house I grew up in was just 500 feet from the original Louisiana & Arkansas route, which was KCS by then. I used to see the Shreveporter and Hustler daily. My dad made sure we made a short trip on the Shreveporter just a few days before that ended.

I still remember all the red, yellow and dark green paint schemes.

Today, I live about five miles from the KCS Wylie Yard and it makes me so happy to see the new engines painted in the historic colors.


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8977 posts, RR: 39
Reply 17, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 1699 times:

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 11):
That $2 million per mile is laying new track on existing right of way the railroad already owns. It can cost 2 or 3 times that to lay new track, from right of way purchase to sub-roadbed work, etc.

That could be.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 11):
If airlines had to build their own airports, we would see a lot fewer startup airlines.

On the positive side, perhaps they would be as financially stable as the railroads today. Also, my understanding is that people who work at these railroads are very happy employees.



"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineNorthwest727 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 491 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 1648 times:

I think you mean Class I railroads, although there are more than 8 that exist (including the 4 you mentioned).

The number one reason why there are only eight Class I railroads left, is that the interstate highway system, personal cars, trucking and airlines have ended the railroads as a choice for transportation in the USA. That's it.

The former all offer on demand, near-on demand, or faster travel vs. the railroads, which are now viewed as irrelevant dinosaurs of a bygone era (despite their efficiency and promises). Just look at how much controversy is generated over high speed rail.

Just like the airlines today, whoever remained merged in order to stay profitable, and in the case of PC and the NH, the US government had to step in and form Conrail in order to save the industry (on the east coast at least).

On an interesting note, between the 1930s and 1980s, when the railroad was in a deep decline, the USA lost 2/3 of its trackage through abandonments.

[Edited 2012-01-26 12:17:02]

User currently offlineredflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4376 posts, RR: 28
Reply 19, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 1607 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 18):
The former all offer on demand, near-on demand, or faster travel vs. the railroads, which are now viewed as irrelevant dinosaurs of a bygone era (despite their efficiency and promises).

I think the comment regarding cars, trucks, and airplanes being faster or on-demand is true. However, railroads are not irrelevant or dinosaurs in their current iteration. They are used to move bulk wholesale goods. They can do it more efficiently than any other means of transportation. But as you point out, it's not going to be on-demand and it will only be between large distribution centers. We will never again see the railroads of the past, but the current system serves a very valuable purpose in the economy. (I'm talking freight...forget the B.S. about passenger service as it can't survive as a stand alone without external subsidies.)



My other home is a Piper Cherokee 180C
User currently offlinegemuser From Australia, joined Nov 2003, 5828 posts, RR: 6
Reply 20, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 1569 times:

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 4):
UP and BNSF have no rail east of the Mississippi

Duluth, Milwaukee and Chicago (to name 3) are west of the Mississippi?

Gemuser



DC23468910;B72172273373G73873H74374475275376377L77W;A319 320321332333343;BAe146;C402;DHC6;F27;L188;MD80MD85
User currently offlineseattle From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 63 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 1527 times:

Well technically in the U.S. there are no "national' carriers. Amtrak is the only railroad that serves coast to coast and north and south in the United States. But of all the major players in the U.S. that i can think of off hand: Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk and Southern, CSX, Kansas City Southern - Kansas City Southern de Mexico, Florida East Coast, Ferromex, Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific not to mention the huge amount of shortlines that mostly are owend by a few larger companies the probability of starting a whole new coast to coast land bridge container hauling railroad within the states and have it turn a profit would be next to impossible.

User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9755 posts, RR: 31
Reply 22, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 1519 times:

...especially not with the new Panama canal widening to accomodate larger ships.

Still, there''s plenty of untapped market potential from truckers and UPS/FEDEX intermodal business but not enough to justify an all new carrier. The existing class ones can add additonal rails if market grows. BNSF has just completed the transcon line by double tracking the final miles in New Mexico's Abo canyon. UP is going ahead with double tracking the sunset route. That adds capacity to the speedways.



Es saugt und blaest der Heinzelmann wo Mutti sonst nur blasen kann. Frueher war mehr Lametta.
User currently offline747400sp From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3758 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (2 years 11 months 5 days ago) and read 1480 times:

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 22):
UP is going ahead with double tracking the sunset route.






If the sunset route is the tracks that the Sunset Linted runs on, then I am shocked that it was not double tracked by now.


User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9755 posts, RR: 31
Reply 24, posted (2 years 11 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 1466 times:

Los Angeles to El paso which will upgraded to couble track all the way, same the continuation to chicago on the former SP / CRI&P. This will basically a strong competition to the BNSF transcon. .

The Sunset Limited continues to San Antonio on UP , no info on hand right now how far that is double trcked or if they have sidings only.



Es saugt und blaest der Heinzelmann wo Mutti sonst nur blasen kann. Frueher war mehr Lametta.
25 Flighty : The competition situation in rail is pretty dismal now. I think they are just charging near-trucking prices and keeping the monopoly rent for themselv
26 Northwest727 : I agree with you, however I am just taking the stance of the general American public (and politicians, in some way). I do wish the freight railroads
27 KingairTA : Railroad companies could take a hit if the truck weight limit is raised from 80,000 pounds to 96,000 pounds like congress is thinking of doing.
28 PPVRA : According to my dad, who has worked on some projects in the US, shipping heavy machinery by rail is by far the cheapest method. . . but you never kno
29 rfields5421 : I hope not. There is enough construction on the Interstates now.
30 johns624 : Trucking companies will never be able to get all the drivers that they need. Nobody likes being away from home for 2 or 3 weeks at a time. That's why
31 Post contains images falstaff : BN had the Frisco line to Pensacola, Florida. I think it lasted to the BNSF era, but they nolonger own that line. BNSF does have operations in Alabam
32 johns624 : For a very short time until they were sold to the Wisconsin Central (now CN).
33 747400sp : I did not know KCS was that big, I should have known, when I saw that photo of a KCS EMD SD70 ACe in a train magazine. Pre meger UP and ATSF went to
34 rfields5421 : One of the 'growth' industries is inland container ports. UP runs several trains each day from Houston to just south of Dallas where a huge complex i
35 PanHAM : I was there about 10 years ago but then it was a BNSF facility. Huge intermodal yard. The BNSF HQ is also at Ft. Worth UP on C&NW only which was
36 57AZ : Ummmm. No. Heavy machinery can be shipped very quickly and efficiently as separate trains but it will cost a lot more. Also, there are key railroad c
Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
Rail Simulator In The US posted Fri Jan 25 2008 21:42:05 by AndesSMF
Why Is Phoning Whilst Driving Legal In The US? posted Tue Oct 18 2005 15:26:04 by Runway23
Why Is Discover Card Only In The US? posted Fri Apr 7 2006 21:27:44 by CalAir
Why Scania Do Not Sell Their V8 Trucks In The US? posted Thu Sep 27 2007 04:40:05 by 747400sp
Why Cars Are So Cheap In The US? posted Mon Oct 2 2006 20:07:11 by F.pier
Why Wasn't Carter Included In The US Delegation? posted Thu Apr 7 2005 00:10:51 by Jake056
Why Has Literacy In The US Sunk To Such Lows? posted Thu Jul 29 2004 07:47:27 by MD-90
Physicians Call For National Healthcare In The US posted Mon Aug 18 2003 19:07:26 by Qb001
Why Is The Drinking Age In The US 21? posted Mon Sep 10 2001 22:36:17 by Go Canada!
Why Are The Shark Attacks Growing In The US? posted Tue Sep 4 2001 04:48:23 by Mirrodie