Re: SP Overnight service

Malcolm Laughlin <mlaughlinnyc@...>

Posted by: "Tom Madden" First, Lathrop states that "each one [of the 550 Overnight boxcars] travels an average of 219 miles every 24 hours", compared to the daily 16 mile average for other boxcars on American railroads. Is that correct? Lathrop states the SP ran Overnight freights four nights a week, and having that many boxcars averaging that much mileage suggests an astounding useage factor.

Nothing astounding about it - what you would expect in a captive service with cars moving at night and loading during the day. That 16 miles a day number has no relevance to any specific operation. It includes all the cars in storage, shopped, waiting for distribution, waiting on the weekend for a five day local, and I could go on for a long paragraph but I'll spare you that.

A few examples.

A service handling a daily carload of forwarder traffic five days a week between New York and Chicago would require four cars. There would be 972 x 2 x 5 car miles weekly = 9720 miles / four cars = 2430 miles per car week = 486 miles per car day. That's for cars that became captive in the service.

NYC's Pacemaker service between NY and Buffalo was an 11 hour trip allowing 13 hours for loading, so a car could make the 435 mile trip five nights a week. That's 310 miles a day. Take the ratio of SP's SF-LA mileage to 435 and you get similar utilization. Four days a week makes that 248 instead of 310. So Lathrop's 219 miles must include some allowance for peak periods, uneven traffic on different days, etc.

NY-LA forwarder traffic was fifth morning placement. That meant a car could make a weekly trip and average 460 miles a day, including the two day weekend rest.

Malcolm Laughlin, Editor 617-489-4383
New England Rail Shipper Directories
19 Holden Road, Belmont, MA 02478

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