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Author Topic: KCS track near Baton Rouge
Steve O.
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Does anyone know what the limitations (in terms of running speed, etc.) would be in the Baton Rouge area if Amtrak started a train which had to cross the Mississippi River there? I see on Google Maps that the bridge over the river is single track only. Is the track signaled once you cross the bridge leaving the city? Also, was the "Southern Belle" the only train that ever operated the New Orleans-Baton Rouge-Shreveport segment?

Thanks!

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Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Although the KCS was "the one I never rode', there was also a second unnamed train over the KC-NO route. Actually, this train had a superior equipment assignment to the Belle in that it had a Diner Obs-Lounge in addition to a Pullman. Although the KCS ordered new equipment quite "late in the game", and "state of good repair' was more than an empty slogan, the interiors of such were quite 'Spartan'; interior cleaning could well have been done with a garden hose.

Finally, I wish to caution all about "getting hopes too high' over any kind of restored passenger service over KCS lines, be such Amtrak (Federally funded or 403(b)) or other public agency. The KCS was "out" well before A-Day and hence not party to any provisions of RPSA '70. While KCS did publicly take a position of 'we'll work with you' when the 2K Network Growth Strategy called for operating a Meridian-Shreveport-Dallas train, we must not loose sight that when both KCS and UP made substantial investment in the Mexican rail system (KCS roundly got the NdeM, UP the FCM - once known as SP Mexico) the condition of no more passenger trains was quickly set forth - and 'don't even THINK of a Mextrak".

OK reality check over, back to Fantasyland.

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PullmanCo
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I have to agree with Mr Norman. For KCS to enter into a contract with Amtrak, they can charge the going rate to move a train over the line, and not have a single issue in law doing it.

Mind you, I think the rate should be, car for car, what a hotshot doublestack container would be.

Then, it's a matter of Amtrak bringing resources to bear.

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delvyrails
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In 1962, Kansas City Southern ran two trains in each direction on its Shreveport-Baton Rouge-New Orleans route, southbound leaving Shreveport 1220pm and arriving New Orleans 730pm, and 10pm-605am; and northbound 930am-425pm and 10pm-645am. These trains offered service to and from Kansas City. The overnight schedules were the Southern Belle, and the day trains connected to and from the Flying Crow (Kansas City-Shreveport-Port Arthur) at Shreveport.

As part of its Houston-Baton Rouge-New Orleans route, Missouri Pacific also operated two somewhat competitive daily round trips (Houstonian and Orleanean).

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John Pawson

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gp35
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What is the going rate?
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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. GP, I think you are addressing what rate Amtrak pays a host road for use of the ROW, Train Dispatch, and Supervision (RR Operating Officers also have jurisdiction over Amtrak T&E operating on their roads).

While each road has negotiated their own contract with Amtrak, and the provisions of such are private (outside the scope of FOIA), reportedly Amtrak only pays an incremental cost of being on a given stretch of road. For example, and this again is speculation on my part, if 60 trains are operated over that stretch each day and two of such are Amtrak, then Amtrak pays 2/60 or 3.3% of the cost of maintaining that stretch and same of salaries and related employment costs of Operating Officers such as Trainmasters.

My personal contention, as well as that held by Mr. Pullman and I would dare say railroad management, is that this "recovery" of costs barely begins to represent the opportunity cost of moving those Amtrak trains over the road. The opportunity cost is what would be the gross profit of operating a "hot Z' container train, as that Amtrak train rep[resents a slot that could be filled by a "Z".

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Geoff Mayo
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I also have no idea how US railroads charge but purely based on the number of trains a day seems extremely simplistic to me. Compare a heavy axle loading train like a train carrying steel rolls or stone, versus a relatively light passenger train or an empty stack train. The heavy trains call for much more track maintenance than the light trains.

Then you have to consider train length. It may or may not be important depending on the trains and the sidings. One longer train is usually more efficient than two shorter trains, but flexibility reduces and headways (the time interval between two trains running at line speed, generally implied by running on "high green" signals) increase on longer trains.

One thing I do know is that BNSF earn huge amounts from Amtrak in the form of incentive payments for BNSF delivering Amtrak trains on time to their destination (or handover point to another railroad). I forget the figure quoted but is in the order of millions of dollars per year.

Sorry Steve for not answering any of your questions but hopefully George Harrison will be along soon with his goldmine of information.

Geoff M.

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Geoff M.

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Steve O.
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Thanks for the information thus far folks. Very informative as always.

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Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Mayo's immediate posting reflects the argument that has persisted regarding costs of transportation infrastructure ever since public funds have been used for the maintenance of any right of way. There has been contention between motor freight and private vehicle interests regarding "he don't pay his fair share' throughout the past century. Even considering most states tax Diesel fuel at a higher rate than gasoline plus of course the much less fuel economy of an eighteen wheeler, the debate moves on. Any of us here who have taken Transportation Economics at our respective "halls of ivy' have knowledge of the opposing arguments - and nothing has ever proven conclusive.

The same contention exists over airway use; safe assumption the IATA and the AOPA represent the differing views of their respective constituencies.

But now to the railroads. The issue on making an economic, as distinct from an accounting, allocation of track access has only been such since public funding of passenger trains started some forty years ago, and on this point, Mr. Mayo's positions are as valid as mine.

But with these thoughts set forth, I continue to hold that an accounting allocation determines what portion of MofW Amtrak pays. Accounting is more definite and determinable than the economic methods noted by Mr. Mayo, and accounting allocations between freight and passenger services have 'been around for some time". Lest we forget the famous "ICC Passenger Deficits", which I will be first to acknowledge did represent fiction put forth by parties that simply wanted to be rid of passenger trains i.e. my one time employer.

disclaimer; author is a CPA (Chartered Accountant, Mr. Mayo); and held licensure to practice as such until retirement during 2003.

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PullmanCo
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Mr Mayo,

Believe it or not, the revenue the Class I railroads receive from Amtrak is only about 1/2 day of labor per annum for the principal officers of these railroads. That's comparing the revenue from Amtrak against the gross receipts of the railroad.

It's not as much about maintenance of way as it is about orderly operations on the line: A container doublestack running on a 48 hour schedule means coal running on a 65-72 hour schedule has to take siding along the way. The same thing applies for Amtrak. The proper tarriff for Amtrak, in a newly created contract, should be the cost to keep traffic moving freely on the line.

Since KCS would be contracting with Amtrak for initial service, it has the opportunity to insist on its own prices.

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notelvis
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Nothing to add other than to say the conversation in this thread is a prime example of why I so enjoy time spent on this forum. Enlightening, polite, recognition of validity in opposing viewpoints......

Golly.....I just enjoy this so much. Now to mend fences with an old friend in Minnesota who holds opposing viewpoints politically speaking....

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Geoff Mayo
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I have no idea what the "principle officers of the railroads" earn so I can't comment! But anyway the point I was trying to get at was that it shouldn't just be about train frequency (though I can see some justification - but only as a factor, not as a whole) but axle loadings (MoW costs), dispatching issues (length, 2 vs 1 as I mentioned), and a whole host of other things. Amtrak performing a station stop on a single line eats into the headway so that ought to be factored in too.

But at the end of the day it boils down to a figure that Amtrak's passengers - and any local or federal subsidies - will pay. If it's not economical to the passenger then it's not economical to Amtrak and the host railroad can wash their hands of Amtrak. And, of course, the host can ensure that it is unattractive by pricing it as such.

However, turn it around and what if some smaller railroad wants some extra business? Given the right markets (ie passengers) it could benefit a smaller railroad to host Amtrak. Plucking a line out of memory, the Montana Rail Link could provide service to parts that are currently unserved - and also boost ridership on the Builder. Now, I'm not saying that MRL is a sensible idea because of X Y and Z so don't waste your time arguing over it, I'm just providing an example of where cooperation can be of benefit.

Another example of where co-operation helps both parties is the West Somerset Railway in the UK. A certain engineering firm use their track as a test bed for the tamping machines (Mr Norman: it's a machine that packs down those stones between the sleepers, otherwise known as ties), mainly for training. The benefits to the steam railway are a lovely, smooth ride with ballast maintained for free; the benefits to the engineering firm are that they get free use of real training facilities. I hope it goes without saying that such training is fully supervised and the track left inspected and fit for passenger use.

Goodness gracious me (Mr Norman: stereotypical English for "wow"), I have droned on. Sorry to Steve once again. But track access charges (and the airline equivalent of landing, parking, navigation fees etc) is a topic that I have a particular/peculiar interest in.

Geoff M.

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Geoff M.

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PullmanCo
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Mr Mayo,

Principal Officers mean the Chairman of the Board, the President, the CEO, or the COO.

I'm not talking about their wages, though. I'm talking about how much $$$ the railroad receives from Amtrak, compared to the $$$ the railroad receives overall.

I ran these numbers several years back on another forum. For one system, the numbers justified 2 days a year spent on Amtrak, compared to all other sources of revenue for his railroad. For a different system, the numbers justified 2 hours a year.

The numbers may be big to us, but to the corporate bottom line, they'd not really be missed.

Does that mean I want Amtrak to go away? Heck no. I do want it to pay its way, though: BTW, it did up to ARAA 97 and Mr Warrington. The incentive payments justified folks spending time and effort to run the trains on time [Smile]

Finally, to return to topic, KCS did not join Amtrak. It was out of the barrel, having ended passenger service before the statutory assessment period. It can cut whatever contract it chooses to with Amtrak for service, at whatever rate it chooses to. As I said earlier, I think the rate should be, car for car, the same as that needed to run a hotshot doublestack. Same principle (speed costs money).

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Gilbert B Norman
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Discussion of track access charges is quite relevant to Mr. Steve O's originating posting. As Mr. Pullman immediately noted, KCS is not party to any provisions under RPSA '70, which means that if Amtrak desires to operate a train over their lines, best bring heap big wampum to the table. Amtrak does not have the Act, and their so-called rights of access enacted within such, as leverage in this instance.

Finally Mr, Mayo, while I am grateful that my eleven year railroad career gave me exposure to a number of areas within the industry, including what is considered a "by invitation only' area - Labor Relations (I had my "who" to get in, but when he got "whacked", guess what happened to GBN?), but such did not include MofW or Signalling (closest I got to the latter was review of a discipline case brought against an employee covered by Agreement with the BRS).

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Steve O.
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I like the way this thread has turned out. I'm learning a lot.

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Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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delvyrails
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gp35,

I think I recall reading recently that "the going rate" Amtrak pays for running its train on a freight railroad is roughly $2 per train mile.

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John Pawson

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George Harris
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Up until sometime in the early to mid 1960's, KCS and MoPac each operated two passenger trains each way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The KCS distance was 79 miles and the MoPac distance was 90 miles. The fastest KCS trains were 1h40m westbound and 1h45m eastbound. The fastest MoPac trains were 2h00m westbound and 2h05m eastbound. The track on which the MoPac trains operated was owned by ICRR, and their schedules appeared in the ICRR public timetables.

In passenger train days, the BR-NO KCS line had automatic block signals and a 75 mph speed limit. The remainder of the KCS line to Shreveport, after getting across the Mississippi River bridge, was unsignaled and had a 58 mph (not 59 mph) speed limit.

If the thought here is to reroute the Sunset via Baton Rouge there are a few issues beyond simply getting between New Orleans and Baton Rouge:

Since Union Pacific, and Missouri Pacific before it had their own line, the ex-Texas and Pacific main, down the west side of the Mississippi River, after passenger trains ended whatever rights the MoPac has to run on the ICRR between Baton Rouge and New Orleans were allowed to lapse. After that, the line from Livonia east into Baton Rouge existed primarily to serve industries on the west side of the river opposite Baton Rouge, so:

1. The direct connection from the Mississippi River bridge to the NoPac main line west has been removed.

2. The crossing diamond between the the main lines at Livonia has been removed. The ex-T&P main remains through and the ex-MoPac east-west line that would be used by a passenger train running west out of Baton Rouge no long goes through.

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Steve O.
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Thanks George, great stuff.

I assume the BTR river bridge connects directly to the KCS line up to Alexandria and Shreveport? I assume it's still unsignaled between BTR and SHV as well, correct?

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Good morning America, how are ya?

44,950 Amtrak rail miles traveled since August 18, 2003.

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Geoff Mayo
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Apologies for mixing you up with a late Beatle, George! [Eek!]

Why 58mph? I understand the x9mphs but 58?

If that $2 figure is correct then it's no surprise that certain roads have no interest in running Amtrak on time. However, I do stand by the BNSF incentive figures as these came directly from the PRO at their NOC during a visit by myself in around 2003.

Geoff M.

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Geoff M.

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve O.:
1. I assume the BTR river bridge connects directly to the KCS line up to Alexandria and Shreveport?
2. I assume it's still unsignaled between BTR and SHV as well, correct?

1. Yes
2. Yes, but to be precise, the 1999 ETT I have access to shows CTC on the Mississippi River bridge and approaches.

Geoff: I think KCS just wanted a little more space between their limit and violation of the law. The speed limit shown for the line in 1999 is 49 mph, which is 1 mph under the legal limit for freight. In the 1962 information I have the freight speed limit on this section was 45 mph.

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PullmanCo
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Mr Mayo,

$2/TM adds up awfully fast, especially since these runs are so long-haul!

Just for 3&4...

$2/TM x 2256 miles = $4512 x 2 departures daily= $9024 x 365 days per year = $3,293,760.

Of course, BNSF also handles 1038 miles of the CZ:
$2 x 1038 x 2 x 365 = $1,515,480.

Now let's run in the Empire Builder: 1877 miles on the common core to Spokane, 380 on the Portland segment, and 329 on the Seattle segment

(2 x 1877 x 2 x 365) + (2 x 380 x 2 x 365) +(2 x 329 x 2 x 365) = $3,775,560.

Add those together and you get: $8,584,800.

This doesn't count other BNSF runs, and there are some.

I'll be honest: I could live the rest of my life on a 2% rate of return on $8,000,000. Heck, a 1% rate of return would be a significant increase on my current income. Even so, that's a miniscule amount against the corporate gross revenue.

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Geoff Mayo
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I'm not disagreeing with you, PullmanCo, it's just a very low figure compared to the UK! But perhaps rolls of red tape cost more in the UK. Unfortunately I can't elaborate further as it's information gleaned from contracts. What I can say, completely unrelated but not subject to so much privacy, is the amount that is charged to the train operator for delay minutes: £100-£200 per MINUTE delaying other trains (US$160-$320).

But as you say, the track access charge is miniscule in the great scheme of things, which prompted my "why bother handling Amtrak" comment.

Geoff M.

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Geoff M.

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PullmanCo
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Mr Mayo,

I just looked at BNSF online. One container, moving on a 94 hour schedule, can cost on the order of $2K Chicago to LA. That's 2x the time of an Amtrak run. You can see that for the additional speed needed for Amtrak, the price should be higher.

My thought is passenger should be at least equal to car mile rate for fastest freight.

But... I'm just a citizen...

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ehbowen
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Don't forget, however, that Amtrak supplies their own crews, locomotives, fuel, and rolling stock. This tips the scales the other way a bit.

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--------Eric H. Bowen

Stop by my website: Streamliner Schedules - Historic timetables of the great trains of the past!

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