US Class I's are at their Day of Reckoning

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jis

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The question is which way will they go? Chasing Operating Ratios to oblivion or changing to move out of the 20th century and finally arriving into the 21st century. Many of the technical improvements have been forced by issues that they were unable to control, and had to accept kicking and screaming, while steadfastly continuing with operations that without fail lost them market share year after year. Now is the point when they will either change for the better or go the way of the dinosaurs and Dodo birds. Not that railroads will disappear, but their Wall Street masters will cease to tolerate them and force restructure them in ways that will be out of their control, unlikely for the better.
 

cirdan

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For as long as I can remember we have been hearing this message. Railroads are unresponsive and monolithic, they don't serve customers well and are too complicated and internally focused. And they are working on this and very soon everything is going to be different.

I'm not holding my breath.
 

Willbridge

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What? Wall Street not happy? Each month when Railway Age reports rail employment figures the numbers overall tend to go down. That may satisfy Wall Street but I keep wondering how much it satisfies customers.
 

west point

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The RRs are definitely not serving their customers. Be that Amtrak or the freight customers. The RRs are not taking effort to take care of impediments to gain fluidity. Under powered trains, lack of long enough sidings, dispatching errors, broken apart trains, etc. All the Freight RRs have to get their acts together. Now Amtrak needs to get its mechanical problems fixed which means IMHO new leadership at the middle and top.
 

MARC Rider

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It's not just railroads. Since at least the 80's, hedge funds, corporate raiders, and MBA's have been driving American industry away from customer satisfaction to sole focus on the bottom line. Capitalism is broken.
Not just the "bottom line," but the short-term bottom line. Once, at a conference, I spent dinner with a former employee of Chrysler who told a horror story about what Daimler did to that once-proud company.
 

PerRock

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It's not just railroads. Since at least the 80's, hedge funds, corporate raiders, and MBA's have been driving American industry away from customer satisfaction to sole focus on the bottom line. Capitalism is broken.
The industry is still focused on customer satisfaction; what has changed is who the customer is. While once it was you & I, the folks actually biuying the products; now the customer are stock market folks, you & I are in fact the product.

peter
 

cirdan

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The RRs are definitely not serving their customers. Be that Amtrak or the freight customers. The RRs are not taking effort to take care of impediments to gain fluidity. Under powered trains, lack of long enough sidings, dispatching errors, broken apart trains, etc. All the Freight RRs have to get their acts together. Now Amtrak needs to get its mechanical problems fixed which means IMHO new leadership at the middle and top.
I think the market has changed. There was a time that as a railroad you could live primarily off heavy minerals and coal. It was all about slow moving bulk that didn't mind if it wasn't delivered on time and didn't mind congestion. All that is dying off, maybe faster than many of us imagine. The railroads of tomorrow must live off intermodal and other time-sensitive traffic where the customer expects speed, punctuality and reliability. This will require a different type of infrastructure and a different kind of thinking.
 

PeeweeTM

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I think the market has changed. There was a time that as a railroad you could live primarily off heavy minerals and coal. It was all about slow moving bulk that didn't mind if it wasn't delivered on time and didn't mind congestion. All that is dying off, maybe faster than many of us imagine. The railroads of tomorrow must live off intermodal and other time-sensitive traffic where the customer expects speed, punctuality and reliability. This will require a different type of infrastructure and a different kind of thinking.
Ha, perhaps they should try to precisely schedule their railroad to cope with customers who expect speed, punctuality and reliability. 😉

The literal meaning of PSR works as long as they don't just use the letters as window dressing.
 

me_little_me

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Not just the "bottom line," but the short-term bottom line. Once, at a conference, I spent dinner with a former employee of Chrysler who told a horror story about what Daimler did to that once-proud company.
That "once proud company" made the poorest quality product in the American car industry. They had no right to be proud. I remember those years.
 

MARC Rider

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That "once proud company" made the poorest quality product in the American car industry. They had no right to be proud. I remember those years.
Oh, I don't know. I had a couple of GM cars that weren't worth writing home about, but I also had a 1990 Jeep Cherokee and a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan that gave me 120,000+ good miles. Of course, my best cars were Japanese: a 1982 Nissan Stanza that I sold in good working condition at 140,000 miles, and a 2001 Honda CR-V that we still use and has over 200,000 miles. My grandmother had a 1968 Dodge Dart that my brother used when he was in college, and I shared it with him when my car (a 1972 Saab) needed the steering system replaced, and then it went to my aunt and uncle who drove it well into the late 1990s, or maybe even into the 2000s, I don't remember now.
 

Bob Dylan

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Oh, I don't know. I had a couple of GM cars that weren't worth writing home about, but I also had a 1990 Jeep Cherokee and a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan that gave me 120,000+ good miles. Of course, my best cars were Japanese: a 1982 Nissan Stanza that I sold in good working condition at 140,000 miles, and a 2001 Honda CR-V that we still use and has over 200,000 miles. My grandmother had a 1968 Dodge Dart that my brother used when he was in college, and I shared it with him when my car (a 1972 Saab) needed the steering system replaced, and then it went to my aunt and uncle who drove it well into the late 1990s, or maybe even into the 2000s, I don't remember now.
We oldsters remember when German Products were the "Standard of the World"( Cadillacs Motto) and anything " Made in Japan" was Junk and a Joke, then Toyota,Nissan and Honda came along and became the most dependable Cars for the Money, and the same for Korea now with KIA and Hyundai.( and Electronics and Computers from the US that were the Best in the World were farmed out to the Asian Countries.)
 

cirdan

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Ha, perhaps they should try to precisely schedule their railroad to cope with customers who expect speed, punctuality and reliability. 😉

The literal meaning of PSR works as long as they don't just use the letters as window dressing.
The irony is that a railroad that runs on time, that is predictable, and has clear allocated time slots is also a better place to run passenger trains
 

Ziv

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Japanese "quality"?
I remember in 1977 talking to my high schools Vice-Principal about his new beater car. He was unreasonably proud of a 1974 Japanese Honda Civic, of all things! It seemed so ridiculous, even though everyone knew that US cars had taken a huge dive in quality over the past several years, following the Oil Crisis and, a bit less important at first, the increase in fuel efficiency standards mandated by the CAFE standards of 1975.
But he just raved about the reliability and simplicity of the CVCC vs a Pinto or Chevette. Seemed like a mad man to this "knowledgeable" 16 year old. LOL!
I almost hate to admit it, but my family had a 1976 Chevette that I actually kind of liked. Until the spider gear went while I was in the middle of nowhere on the Montana Hi Line. I was the master of Bootlegger turns with that little beast. The thing weighed a smidgeon less than a ton, if memory serves. I think back then the Honda Civic CVCC weighed around 1700 pounds, which is incredible by todays standards.

We oldsters remember when German Products were the "Standard of the World"( Cadillacs Motto) and anything " Made in Japan" was Junk and a Joke, then Toyota,Nissan and Honda came along and became the most dependable Cars for the Money, and the same for Korea now with KIA and Hyundai.( and Electronics and Computers from the US that were the Best in the World were farmed out to the Asian Countries.)
 

basketmaker

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Oh, I don't know. I had a couple of GM cars that weren't worth writing home about, but I also had a 1990 Jeep Cherokee and a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan that gave me 120,000+ good miles. Of course, my best cars were Japanese: a 1982 Nissan Stanza that I sold in good working condition at 140,000 miles, and a 2001 Honda CR-V that we still use and has over 200,000 miles. My grandmother had a 1968 Dodge Dart that my brother used when he was in college, and I shared it with him when my car (a 1972 Saab) needed the steering system replaced, and then it went to my aunt and uncle who drove it well into the late 1990s, or maybe even into the 2000s, I don't remember now.
The ol' Chrysler 225 Slant Six was bullet-proof. One of the most reliable engines ever.
 

anumberone

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Oh, I don't know. I had a couple of GM cars that weren't worth writing home about, but I also had a 1990 Jeep Cherokee and a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan that gave me 120,000+ good miles. Of course, my best cars were Japanese: a 1982 Nissan Stanza that I sold in good working condition at 140,000 miles, and a 2001 Honda CR-V that we still use and has over 200,000 miles. My grandmother had a 1968 Dodge Dart that my brother used when he was in college, and I shared it with him when my car (a 1972 Saab) needed the steering system replaced, and then it went to my aunt and uncle who drove it well into the late 1990s, or maybe even into the 2000s, I don't remember now.
Ah yeah, that old Dart, with a slant six engine was pretty bullet proof for its day. Then the
K car came out with a 50.000 mile warranty and mostly a 51 thousand mile life span.
 

ehbowen

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Say what you will about Chryslers; here's my personal history.
  • 1962 Plymouth Fury, purchased in 1982 after the owner was about to junk it (it had been through a flood). I took it off his hands, rebuilt the brakes and put new tires on it, then drove it from Houston to Orlando. While stationed there I rebuilt the 318 poly-head V8 in the base hobby shop. Drove it back to Houston, put it in storage for a year while I went to Annapolis. Got kicked out of Annapolis; retrieved the car and took it out to Treasure Island (San Francisco), then down to San Diego and finally to Long Beach. Drove it around the L.A. freeways for three years. Drove it back to Houston where it was my daily driver for another two years. I think I got my fifty bucks worth out of it....
  • 1990 Plymouth Horizon, purchased new. The A/C did go out after five years and I could never afford to repair it, but other than that it was bulletproof with regular maintenance...mostly performed by me personally. Was finally T-boned in 1999 by an SUV which ran a red light and totaled.
  • 2001 Plymouth Neon, purchased new. Again, with regular maintenance, bulletproof. It went to my niece in 2009 after I purchased my next car; I would have given it to her but her father insisted on having her pay me $1400 so she would have some skin in the game. She drove it for another six years and finally sold it five years ago. When she sold it it was still a good car.
  • 2008 Dodge Avenger R/T, again purchased new. In 2011 took my Dad and the two of us drove from Houston to Glacier National Park and back, via Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and the C&TS RR. Did have one major problem with this one; the (3.5 V6) engine developed an internal oil leak and drank all of its lubricant and burned up while my nephew was driving it as I was on a trip to Washington (DC). However...it came with the lifetime powertrain warranty. After I was able to document that I had performed all required oil changes and maintenance, Chrysler replaced the engine without a quibble. Drove it for another three years and it performed admirably, until one Sunday on a trip back from Galveston when traffic on the Gulf Freeway abruptly stopped at a construction zone. I stopped in time...the silver Pontiac following me did not. Avenger sandwich....
  • 2015 Chrysler 300. Oh, God, that was a beautiful car! Silky-smooth Pentastar 3.6L V6, electronic everything with voice command of sound system and GPS, leather interior, sunroof...I loved it! So did my mother, who borrowed it from me frequently. Until one day in early 2019 when she was driving it and an elderly lady in a Cadillac decided to see what you would get if you crossed a Chrysler with a Cadillac. After the banks and insurance companies did their thing, it turned out that the answer was a...
  • 1999 Plymouth Voyager, purchased in 2019 for $950, cash. (At this point I was highly reluctant to drop another thirty thou on a new car!) It needed serious work, which I knew going in. Still, it served me for two full years, before being replaced by a...
  • 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan, purchased earlier this year for $4000. Jury's still out on this one, but it's given me no major issues thus far and I like it. Keeping fingers crossed....
So please excuse me for having a soft spot for the old Pentastar.
 
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