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Thread: The Soo Line (Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie) & Wisconsin Central Lease

  1. #21
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    Sad news from up at my cabin near Prentice, WI. Flambeau Papers in Park Falls, WI is being liquidated. That was the last customer on the Ashland to Prentice line. A bridge washed out north of Park Falls a couple summers ago, the Canadians said, "screw it" so the line ended at Park Falls and this paper mill and no longer carried lots of logs from north of there down to the sawmill in Prentice. Thusly, it didn't pay to load them off trucks and on to railcars anymore for anything south of Park Falls, they'd just drive to Prentice.

    When CN took over (Grrrrrrrrrrr....I don't like them) the Wisconsin Central, they pretty much screwed over Wisconsin entirely. Lots of lines that were and would still be profitable for the very successful Wisconsin Central were deemed not profitable enough for the Canadians.

    I bought my land near Prentice in 2003. It was a busy rail hub, with traffic coming down from Lake Superior to the north, and lots of E-W action coming from Ladysmith and heading East to Rhinelander and beyond, or turning South at Tomahawk. I would hear numerous trains, day and night, echo through the woods at the cabin. Sadly, it's been a long time since I heard a train, as the Prentice to Ladysmith line was abandoned by CN about 8 years or so ago, and after the washout on the N-S line, only Flambeau Papers remained as the last major customer on the line from Park Falls all the way to Tomahawk.

    I'll miss the trains greatly. I'm sure that CN will yank the rails at their earliest opportunity. Screw us, we don't matter. That's the message they've given Northern Wisconsin over and over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by P-LineSoo View Post
    Screw us, we don't matter. That's the message they've given Northern Wisconsin over and over.
    Well maybe you need to write them a letter and explain to them why you do matter and while you're at it, explain to them why their bottom line doesn't matter?
    The Little Rock Line blog


    ďNever argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlin

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    CN has been very deliberate in their elimination of low volume customers. If you can’t deliver 24+ car blocks weekly, they don’t want the business.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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  5. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpwisc View Post
    CN has been very deliberate in their elimination of low volume customers. If you canít deliver 24+ car blocks weekly, they donít want the business.
    Are they operating with PSR too? Sounds similar to what UP is doing to customers.

    Here's the rub: railroads keep turning small rail-served customers away, and they are simply asking for Congress to re-regulate them. Don't think it can't happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    Are they operating with PSR too? Sounds similar to what UP is doing to customers.

    Here's the rub: railroads keep turning small rail-served customers away, and they are simply asking for Congress to re-regulate them. Don't think it can't happen.
    not clear on the last point, who is asking congress? Railroads or the customers?
    ~ Charles

    :shay:

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    Quote Originally Posted by zosimas View Post
    not clear on the last point, who is asking congress? Railroads or the customers?
    It's a figure of speech. Those railroads embracing PSR, by turning away small, rail-reliant customers in favor of higher profits, could open a door to reregulation.

    Rail-served customers, and rail competitors, would love to see rates regulated again. Smaller customers being snubbed so the PSR practitioners can grab a couple points more of improved operating ratio, just to impress stock analysts, could pave the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    Are they operating with PSR too? Sounds similar to what UP is doing to customers.
    CN was using precision railroading before it became a catch phrase. It was all part of the E. Hunter Harrison plan.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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    Railroads are in the business to make money...not for the fun of it. When i was in the printing business what was killing the paper companies was cheap paper from Asia. Could get paper shipped from Korea to Minnesota cheaper than from Wisconsin!!!!

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    I had the impression (though I am no expert on the railroad business) that shortlines were picking up at least some of the "last few miles" delivery to smaller customers as the class 1 lines pulled away in favor of unit trains and larger customers. Obviously that doesn't happen everywhere... but for some of you guys who are experts in the railroad business, is that really a thing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by OTFan View Post
    I had the impression (though I am no expert on the railroad business) that shortlines were picking up at least some of the "last few miles" delivery to smaller customers as the class 1 lines pulled away in favor of unit trains and larger customers. Obviously that doesn't happen everywhere... but for some of you guys who are experts in the railroad business, is that really a thing?
    Depends where the customer are located. Most shortlines and Class 2s over the past 40 years have evolved from abandoned Class 1 branchlines.

    But what happens to smaller customers located along Class 1 mainlines whose better option is to ship in or out by rail rather than truck? Or those in industrial parks? Contract switching might work in some areas, but not all.

    That's why if PSR persists, I'm foreseeing federal reregulation that would force the Class 1s to provide service whether they want to or not, with rate regulations to keep them from intentionally over-pricing services to smaller shippers.

    Moreover, Congress is already hearing about safety concerns arising from PSR.

    Get the combination of 1) bad business conduct by railroads and 2) a certain political majority in power, and the railroads could be nationalized. Again, don't think it can't happen here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allen H. View Post
    Well maybe you need to write them a letter and explain to them why you do matter and while you're at it, explain to them why their bottom line doesn't matter?
    Little towns across the north have been doing just that...pleading their case as to why rail matters to their communities and the survival thereof via letters and community meetings. So far, they haven't gotten very far.

    There's customers on these lines, just not large ones. There's logging, propane, goods shipped on Lake Superior, lumber and materials to support various industries. Flambeau was the last paper mill on the route...really the only one. WC had to be running all those trains for a reason, not just for fun. When that bridge washed out over the Bad River, a lot of traffic disappeared, and this was during CN ownership. It's almost like CN Wants the lines *gone*.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OTFan View Post
    I had the impression (though I am no expert on the railroad business) that shortlines were picking up at least some of the "last few miles" delivery to smaller customers as the class 1 lines pulled away in favor of unit trains and larger customers. Obviously that doesn't happen everywhere... but for some of you guys who are experts in the railroad business, is that really a thing?
    It's my understanding that CN isn't allowing short lines to take up the business...it's their sandbox, and if they aren't going to play in it, no one can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicki6 View Post
    Railroads are in the business to make money...not for the fun of it. When i was in the printing business what was killing the paper companies was cheap paper from Asia. Could get paper shipped from Korea to Minnesota cheaper than from Wisconsin!!!!
    The Wisconsin Central was very profitable on these same lines. CN is greedy. It's not that they wouldn't make money, they wouldn't make *enough* money and/or aren't willing to work harder in these areas to get it.

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