Ask The Experts: July 24, 2019

Tony Hatch
Independent Transportation Analyst and Consultant

Q: How does Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) impact Short Lines?
Canton Railroad has previously noted that the one thing that comes with overall PSR adoption is “more work for the Short Lines that the Class Ones used to do” – citing rate-making, (local) marketing, and hand-holding”. To which I would add, of course, pre-blocking and other first/last mile operations. This new, “over the transom” workload will be met with some small carrier push-back.

Q: What are your thoughts on the reefer boxcar market?
The high cost reefer boxcar market could be revived if the cycle times improve from ~7X/year (!!) to once a month – something that could well happen with PSR, unlocking a new market opportunity in a low current share environment.

Q: How well are Short Lines and Class I Railroads working together in efforts to use Information Technology (IT)?
Efforts to use IT links in a combined Short Line/Class One service & visibility (particularly to empties) are apparently progressing very slowly, and efforts to convince Class I’s that this type of information isn’t proprietary continue to run into roadblocks….

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Alison Babcock