Re: Freight car distribution

Tim O'Connor

1) If a freight agent in LA has 2 shippers requesting 40' XM MT's,
one load destined for Syracuse, and the other for Harrisburg, and
he has a bunch of empty 40 foot XM's - including one PRR, and one
NYC, would he just flip a coin? I've got to believe he would send
cars towards their home roads ...

This sounds highly unrealistic to me. A freight yard is not a
deck of cards. A string of MT box cars is held on a track. The
yard clerk has a list of them, but all the agent knows is that
there are 27 XM's on a track. The first 5 are picked off for
local X, then next 7 go to local Y, etc. WHY ON EARTH would any
employee care which car went where? Per diem was fixed at that
time, the same for every 40' box car, new or old, wood or steel,
plain or roller bearing. Unless a customer had special loading
requirements (e.g. DF devices) or needed a special door size or
whatever, surely the customer didn't care.

Can you IMAGINE your scenario? -- There's a PRR box car 12th in
the line. The shipper is going to receive 3 cars at 3 doors, and
the cargo for the second door is going to Fort Wayne on the PRR
and the cargos for the other doors are going to Syracuse. The
train crew doesn't give a damn, so someone has to arrange the
cars in the local freight job so that when they spot 3 cars on
the customer siding, the first and third cars are NYC and the
middle car is PRR.

Does that sound INSANE to you??? It should!

Tim was right. Thousands of employee anecdotes back him up. About
15 years ago there was a terrific article about the UP management
trying to get UP employee to -insert- cars into trains to preserve
their destination-block-order. This ordering was ESSENTIAL to keep
costs down so UP could get the business. It was a TOTAL FAILURE.
The train service employees didn't care. The trains would arrive
in Portland OR in a total mish-mosh order, requiring a lengthy
sorting out. UP lost the business (which was substantial).

Cars didn't travel randomly by DESIGN. They travelled randomly
because it was the EASIEST way to deal with cars. Every single
movement of a car costs real money -- crew time, fuel, and loco
time. Railroads who wasted money sorting cars based on reporting
marks (and for no other reason) would go out of business in a
big hurry.

Tim O'Connor

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