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On the Chessie Seaboard eXpress Combined network here in the midwest freight shipments are way down over the past 3 months. In the past 16 years I've seen total carloads this low once. Coal is at a low, shale oil disappeared, raw materials for manufacturing are at a low. Raw materials are an indication of goods that will be available on the market once utilized in the manufacturing process. The only thing that seems to be shipping at a strong rate is automobiles and finished goods from overseas. The forecast that I've been able to uncover; at the current carload volume, is that the low volume will continue through mid to late March. From what I've learned about railroad shipments is the raw material volume is a very strong indicator of the US economy 6 months down the road. So much so that RR volume has a substantial impact on the stock market. Has anyone else noticed a dramatic drop in volume?
 

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Yep, heard it on the stock market report (CNBC's Squawkbox or Squawk on the Street, ) where they also listed motor freight and factory manufacturing orders being affected downward significantly in the US, indicating a poor extended economic forecast. China's devaluation of their money, their severe environmental pollution, the rising needs of the lower and middle classes in China, and the worldwide glut of oil caused by the falling demand for oil (most recently less than $27/barrel, where it costs $78 to produce in the USA) and other factors. Smart folks are tightening their belts right now.

Carry On!
Gary
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Delivered mill-flat to our door is 22$ per hundredweight at 50,000 lb lifts. Some is more some is a little less. This time last year it was around 50$ phw. According to all the steel mongers, the only thing booming right now is gage thickness stainless for restaurant/brewery builders and outfitters. If it makes you fat or drunk its golden.J
 

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And they will blame the other party for the collapse. Been reading comments on facebook and news outlets and the democrats are claiming we are in a recovery thanks to the leadership of the President. Absolutely amazing.
 

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And they will blame the other party for the collapse. Been reading comments on facebook and news outlets and the democrats are claiming we are in a recovery thanks to the leadership of the President. Absolutely amazing.
Funny, speaking of amazing, the White House is telling us that mass shootings and gun violence are ever increasing, while at the same time taking credit when it is pointed out that such crime totals have been steadily going down for decades. You can almost see the two faces separating when they talk....
 

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I'll second that rail shipments are down. I drive a section of GA 142 on my regular trips to and from Atlanta. Several miles of that state highway closely parallel an unused rail line, on which are parked hundreds of empty rail cars. They've been there for at least a month. The last time I saw empty rail stock parked on that line was 2008-2009, during the depths of the last recession. I initially deduced that this didn't indicate the economic doom and gloom of that time because these cars are primarily coal gondolas. Cheap natural gas has replaced coal for the production of a lot of the nation's electric power. If rail shipping is well down nation wide, the economy may be heading down the toilet after all.

The slump in materials is primarily due to the slow-down in China - they're a little over built. Interesting statistic: between 2011 and 2013 China poured more concrete than did the U.S. during the entire 20th century. Much of that was funded with borrowed money. There's no way that was sustainable.

Low oil prices are great for American consumers, but they also mean oil producing countries no longer have the money for infrastructure investment or large capital expenditures. Things could get ugly for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'll second that rail shipments are down. I drive a section of GA 142 on my regular trips to and from Atlanta. Several miles of that state highway closely parallel an unused rail line, on which are parked hundreds of empty rail cars. They've been there for at least a month. The last time I saw empty rail stock parked on that line was 2008-2009, during the depths of the last recession. I initially deduced that this didn't indicate the economic doom and gloom of that time because these cars are primarily coal gondolas. Cheap natural gas has replaced coal for the production of a lot of the nation's electric power. If rail shipping is well down nation wide, the economy may be heading down the toilet after all.
Back when Bush Sr. was POTUS I wrote a term paper on alternative fuel sources for internal combustion engines. The information available back then indicated The US has one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. I think that has been scaled back a bit. Russia, Iran, Qatar, US.
 

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New machinery installation in our area is down as well for about the last 4 months from what it had been earlier in the year.

Steve
 

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CSX stands for

Chicken
S**t
EXpress


Seriously, out west here there's a lot of dead locomotives all over the railroad's property. The EwePee (Union Pacific) and BuNSnifF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) have massive lines of stored engines all over. There's at least 2-3 yard tracks full of engines, both new and old, in every yard. There's also empty tracks in the inbound and outbound yards. In good times, there railroads have more trains than they know what to do with. Hell, they would store trains on the main lines approaching the yards because they couldn't process them fast enough.

So yes, contrary to what the main stream media is spewing, the economy is in the crapper and freight train traffic is waaaaay down.
 

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Funny that people are just now noticing this. Rail freight has been declining for the last year.

Here in L.A. we have well over 100 people furloughed, locomotives in storage...

The powder river basin that ships out coal is basically shut down. The run that I've been on since 2009, I had to bail off of it. Had to go back to the extra board to make any money.

What I don't get is, who's buying all of these cars? There are so many auto trains these days I don't get it. Everything else is down but they get so many auto trains that they sit for a couple of days before being unloaded.

Once the Panama canal opens it will get even worse. People better start saving money, scary times are here and they're going to get worse!
 

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I used to work in the coal mines and can say all the high paying coal jobs are gone. I had to relocate In order to get a decent paying job again. I feel Burlington Northern and Union Pacific is going to suffer due to the recent mining freeze on Wyomings mining on federal lands.

Wyo had the biggest prep plant next to enlow/Bailey mine in PA. I think I'm turning my market watch to the ethanol industry. In order to make a profit in the ethanol industry tho, gas has to be at least 3 a gallon. It's hard to say what's going to happen when one person changes everything unopposed with just a pen.
 

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Not here in Northern Ohio. We've got more dang trains than ever before, longer ones too.
 

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The oil by rail business is down a bit. We were handling at least 5 to 6 loaded oil trains on my property a month. No oil now, but we are handling one to two ethanol trains heading to Mobile a month. There's talk of more but I don't know if it will happen. We also have had some coal cars in storage since 2009.*

I do know the paperboard business is steady. We are burning through boxcars as fast as they can load them. By paperboard I am talking about the paper that they make ice cream cartons, donut boxes, medicine boxes, paper plates, dixie cups, and even some of the boxes higher end liquor ship in. I know this business is up because I switch one of the few paperboard mills in this country.

We are still hauling a decent amount of steel plate and coil steel. Also handling plenty of pig iron going to the servastal mill in Columbus, MS.

Are yall having a shortage of boxcars lately or are yall storing a bunch?
 

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I'll second that rail shipments are down. I drive a section of GA 142 on my regular trips to and from Atlanta. Several miles of that state highway closely parallel an unused rail line, on which are parked hundreds of empty rail cars. They've been there for at least a month. The last time I saw empty rail stock parked on that line was 2008-2009, during the depths of the last recession....
I punched the trip meter the last time I drove by, it's over four miles of coal gondolas. Most are well used, but there are what appear to be brand new cars mixed in as well.
 

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Traffic is down here considerably. I have been working a signal project on part of a mothballed railroad that is being reopened for car storage since this past summer. More or less 7 days a week until this past Sunday. Riding trains 4 or 5 days a week and then wiring signal cases when not doing that. My ass has been dragging in the rocks for a while now. 35,000 coal hoppers headed to the parking lot. 8 miles of well cars parked here and I don't know how many frack sand and oil cans are here. However many fit in 11 linear miles of track with the crossings cut. They were showing up faster than we could get rid of them. I have never in my 22 years out here EVER seen it this bad before. The economy is tanking quick.
 

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The amazing part is how it's being covered up. You don't hear anything about it in the news.

The railroads don't let this kind of news out, like derailments, you only hear about them when they're bad.
 

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I work for the BNSF Railway Telecom Department here is Los Angeles and I can also vouch for the cut backs that are happening. My manager has had his budget for 2016 cut by over 10 percent and while they haven't cancelled hiring replacements for people who retire from a craft position there is a freeze on hiring replacements for exempt employees unless you get approval for each hire on an individual basis directly from the CEO and president Carl Ice!
Pretty much any meetings in Fort Worth for telecom have been cancelled until further notice with any necessary meetings being replaced by conference calls. I also suspect that will see training classes for this year drastically cut or eliminated all together. Although we do still seem to be running a lot of trains out of LA, including a 14,500 foot one a couple of months back, I don't notice the usual frenetic level of activity of vehicles buzzing about Hobart Yard that is the norm for times when business is booming. Normally when you enter the yard you have to develop a swivel neck to avoid being hit by hostler trucks hauling containers and trailers to and from trains but when I was in the yard just the other day it reminded me of the daily scene back during the business slump of 2008 when you could almost visualize the tumble weeds blowing through the yard and you had to look hard to find any hostler trucks driving about. I have pictures from back in '08 where they had several of our eighty foot tall chassis stacking cranes parked at one end of the Lot 5 chassis stacking lot with also idle train loading cranes parked under them like little children hiding under their mothers skirt and under all that were dozens of idle hostler tractors. Then at Commerce Inter-modal Business Unit, our over flow container yard about a mile east of Hobart the yard was completely idled for almost a year and the three 4000 foot plus long loading tracks were filled end to end with idle locomotives! It was quite a sight to see and I'm afraid we may well be headed that way again.

Over on the other side of the tracks across Washington Boulevard from Hobart at Union Pacific's East Yard, things are looking even more bleak. UP is in a really bad way as has already been pointed out by other commenters, our daily company rail news blog recently pointed out how their business is off by 20% and it's getting worse for them due to their much heavier dependence on the coal business and the virtual collapse of the Power River Basin. In my twenty plus years working in the rail business I actually spent four of those years at Uncle Pete and in recent conversations with a former co-worker he was pointing out the dark outlook back in Omaha, over one thousand exempt employees have already been fired with more to come and even locally my buddy's manager who headed the UP telecom department in LA has been sacked so they are all pretty nervous across the street. My boss here at BNSF has two sons who work in the operating department at UP, each with a good bit of seniority and they are both deeply concerned about their futures. No matter where you are in this industry it just doesn't look good.

BNSF already has approximately 5000 of its train, yard and engine (TYE) employees currently on furlough and as a final note and indication of how bad things are getting we just received a notice on Friday the 29th that the BNSF will be offering a voluntary buyout program to a limited group of TYE employees! So the water is cresting the dam and cracks have started to form on the face so one only wonders how long is will be before the dam bursts. At some point the economy will get so bad that the news media and government won't be able to sweep it under the rug or put a happy face on it and I'm just wondering how they will try to blame the Republicans for it.

As for me I'm just hoping that I can make it until December 17th, 2019 which is the earliest date I can file for railroad retirement without taking an age related reduction in my benefit. Since I didn't start with the railroad until I was 41 I can't take the retirement under the 30 years of service at age 60 plan so according to the RRB website I have to wait until age 66 to file for retirement, which will give me $3173 per month. If I could stick it out to 71 I would get $3903, but I'm not going to kill myself for $700 per month, I'm going to take the money and run assuming the getting will still be good at that point. The other sucky part is that my wife being 7 years younger than me will have to wait a couple of years beyond my pulling the plug to get her share, but the additional $1080 should help. I'm not really whining about all this since their will be a lot of other people who will be worse off and it will be better then Social Security and I'm sure we can find some place in the great country to make a go of it on that amount, just probably not California though.

Mazel Tov, or maybe more appropriately that should be Oy Veh ist Mir!
 

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Well, I'm seeing more stored power everywhere I go. Some places don't have anymore room in their small yards for any more power. Was in Reno, NV and drove past the Sparks yard and saw 2 tracks FULL of power there. Every yard in CA (except Oakland for some reason.......) has several tracks full of stored power with more arriving.

Things are not looking good. Keep yer ammo dry...
 

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Theres at least 5 miles of container carrying cars stored on a dead end section of track near me.
Nothing has been on this section of track for years.
In fact a large Portion of this track has been turned into a bicycle/horse/walking trail.
What is really strange is most of these cars are Brand new ..No graffiti.
Sure Portland ,Or ..lost a huge container ship contract recently but it seems these New units would have been moved elsewhere....
 
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