Ask The Experts: July 24, 2019

Tony Hatch
Independent Transportation Analyst and Consultant

Q: How does Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) impact Short Lines?
A:
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?
A:
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)?
A:
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