Printer Friendly

Investigating private railroad operations and the locomotive issue.


Private, industrial or in-plant rail operations are a seldom explored and little researched practice that, nevertheless, play a major role in the movement of freight worldwide. Additionally, with changes in the railroad railroad or railway, form of transportation most commonly consisting of steel rails, called tracks, on which freight cars, passenger cars, and other rolling stock are drawn by one locomotive or more.  industry, the issue of how to power these private railroads has become a major issue for the system owners.

Transportation textbooks seldom cover the practice, and if they do, generally state that private rail operations are not commonly used. For example, one text states that private rail transportation "basically means that the user buys or leases railcars, provides rail tracks Rail tracks are used on railways (or railroads), which, together with railroad switches (or points), guide trains without the need for steering. Tracks consist of two parallel steel rails, which are laid upon sleepers (or cross ties) that are embedded in ballast to form the  on the property, and in some limited cases, provides switching within the plant" (Coyle, Bardi Bardi can refer to:
  • Bardi, Italy, a city in the province of Parma, northern Italy
  • Bardi bush, an Australian plant, Acacia victoriae
  • Bardi (folklore), a shape-changing spirit or a rabid animal in Trebizond folklore who presages a death by wailing
, and Novack, 2000), with later editions not even discussing the practice. However, research into the shows that just as with the motor carrier industry, where private fleets comprise the largest segment of the trucking industry (National Private Truck Council), private railroads greatly outnumber out·num·ber  
tr.v. out·num·bered, out·num·ber·ing, out·num·bers
To exceed the number of; be more numerous than.


to exceed in number:
 common carrier railroads.

According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the Association of American Railroads, there are more than 600 freight railroads operating today in Canada, Mexico, and the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , forming a seamless integrated system across North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere.  accounting for more than 40 percent of all freight transportation (2009). However, what is not clearly recognized is that all of these shipments start and end at tens of thousands of individual locations. In the United States alone, The Comprehensive Guide To Industrial Locomotives This is a list of locomotives (classes, or individual locomotives) that currently have articles in Wikipedia.

  • See List of ALCO diesel locomotives
Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • See List of Baldwin diesel locomotives
 (Reed, 2002) lists more than 2000 private rail operations using more than 3500 full-sized railroad locomotives. Canada, according to the Canadian Trackside track·side  
The area near a track, especially a racetrack.
 Guide (Roberts and Stremes, 2005), has almost 250 private rail operations using nearly 600 fullsized railroad locomotives. In addition to these numbers, manufacturers of other rail switching devices such as mobile railcar movers list thousands more private rail operations among the tens of thousands of origins and destinations of rail shipments.

A search of the Internet using several search engines, as well as a number of academic data bases, reveals little about private rail operations. Several encyclopedia-type websites such as Wikipedia and NationMaster have very similar definitions for private or industrial railroads. For example, (2009) states that an industrial railroad is "a type of private railway used exclusively to serve a particular industry inside a mine or factory compound." Both website go on to give examples of such a railroad. The industrial railroad example provided by NationMaster "would transport say clay from a quarry Quarry

Cerynean stag

captured by Hercules as third Labor. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Hall, 149]

Cretan bull

savage bull caught by Hercules as seventh Labor. [Gk.
 to an interchange point with a main line railway, where it would be transported to its final destination. The line would be owned and operated by the quarry company, and would exist solely to serve the quarry." The definition goes on to state that "most industrial railways are short, usually being only a few kilometres long, but there are notable exceptions--examples of which include the iron ore-carrying railways in Western Australia Western Australia, state (1991 pop. 1,409,965), 975,920 sq mi (2,527,633 sq km), Australia, comprising the entire western part of the continent. It is bounded on the N, W, and S by the Indian Ocean. Perth is the capital.  which are hundreds of kilometres in length and exist to transport iron ore from the inland to the coast."


Limited academic research exists on the benefits of private rail operations, particularly for North American North American

named after North America.

North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.

North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus.
 operations. However, some recent research has been conducted on private in-plant rail operations in Europe. Lubbecke and Zimmermann (2003) stated that "in order to maintain a timely around-the-clock production process it is often opportune op·por·tune  
1. Suited or right for a particular purpose: an opportune place to make camp.

2. Occurring at a fitting or advantageous time: an opportune arrival.
 or indispensable to operate a private industrial railroad. Since a paper by Charnes & Miller (in 1956), apparently no attention in the operations research operations research

Application of scientific methods to management and administration of military, government, commercial, and industrial systems. It began during World War II in Britain when teams of scientists worked with the Royal Air Force to improve radar detection of
 literature has been drawn on in-plant railroads. However, ongoing privatization privatization: see nationalization.

Transfer of government services or assets to the private sector. State-owned assets may be sold to private owners, or statutory restrictions on competition between privately and publicly owned
 and market deregulations in the railroad sector force these railroads to offer a better transportation quality, and to decrease charges."

Industry experts in North America agree that private rail operations are often essential and exist due to industrial demand. According to Tennessee Eastman's senior mechanical engineer, Allan Newland, "Railcar switching itself is a fairly small part of our entire process, but it is extremely important to do it on our schedule. The quicker we can get our loaded cars switched out, the sooner customers get their orders (Railway Age, 1998)."

A presentation at the Northeast Region of the North American Rail Shippers Association (Renner, 2008) listed a number of major shipper SHIPPER. One who ships or puts goods on board of a vessel, to be carried to another place during her voyage. In general, the shipper is bound to pay for the hire of the vessel, or the freight of the goods. 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 1030.  benefits of a private, in-plant rail operation. These included that the locomotives and personnel act on a plant-demand basis; the plant determines the start and end times of the service; there is a decrease in the service cycle time; there is a reduction in freight car demurrage A separate freight charge, in addition to ordinary shipping costs, which is imposed according to the terms of a carriage contract upon the person responsible for unreasonable delays in loading or unloading cargo.  and storage charges; and there is an improvement in fleet utilization.

Besides improved service and the ability to set the service schedule, operating a private railroad can also result in significant cost savings for the shipper by having the ability to switch shipments and build larger cuts of cars, resulting in the use of better rates. For example, "in November 2008, BNSF's shuttle rate (110 cars) for a carload carload

In commodities trading, a railroad car or truckload of grain that ranges from 1,400 to 2,500 bushels.
 of wheat from Minneapolis to Portland was $3,540, compared with a rate of $3,940 for a load included in a 52-car shipment (Blaszak, 2009)." The result of these rate incentives is the construction of many large grain elevators across the United States and Canada with their own private railroads, generally switched by low to medium horsepower horsepower, unit of power in the English system of units. It is equal to 33,000 foot-pounds per minute or 550 foot-pounds per second or approximately 746 watts.  locomotives.

According to Blaszak (2009), these facilities are designed to move larger volumes of grain to pay for the investments while still lowering the net transportation costs, resulting in higher grain prices paid to the farmers. The result is "this places non-shuttle elevators at a disadvantage. Increasingly, the non-shuttle elevators are going out of business, unable to compete."

Based upon the benefits cited, evidence suggests that shippers who can take advantage of multiple car rates, or those that manufacture on a twenty-four hour schedule, have the greatest potential for a private rail operation. Tables 1 and 2 reveal that this seems to be true for both the United States and Canada, as both countries have a high number of operations of an agricultural or heavy manufacturing nature.


A review of available research, professional articles, and government reports suggests that little is known about the subject of private railroad operations. Unlike the private motor carrier industry, which has the National Private Truck Council to represent its interests, the private or industrial railroad industry has no such trade organization. Additionally, in the motor carrier industry, vehicles must still be registered and operate under the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration The FMCSA was established as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on January 1, 2000, pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. , while the Federal Railroad Administration The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was created in 1966 as a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation to promote rail transportation and safety.

The FRA is one of 10 agencies within the Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal transportation.
 (2006) primarily focuses on operations that are part of the "general railroad system of transportation," which typically excludes most or all of many privately operated in-plant operations. This lack of representation and regulatory enforcement contributes to making the industry practice almost invisible. Because of this lack of historic research and reporting, this research was designed to initiate exploration into the area using interviews and secondary resources.

Two published sources of information on the private railroad industry are available. These are the books "Canadian Trackside Guide" (published yearly by the Bytown Railway Society and includes details about the railroad industry in Canada) and the "Comprehensive Guide to Industrial Locomotives" (a railroad hobby-oriented publication which includes a roster of locomotives at industrial facilities in the United States).

These sources indicate that there are more than 2200 private rail operations relying upon the traditional railroad locomotive locomotive, vehicle used to pull a train of unpowered railroad cars. Types of Locomotives

The steam-powered locomotive played a key role during the development and golden age of railroading, but, despite its long and picturesque history, it has
 to move railcars on their system in Canada and the United States The United States and Canada share a unique legal relationship. U.S. law looks northward with a mixture of optimism and cooperation, viewing Canada as an integral part of U.S. economic and environmental policy. . Most of these industrial railroads are quite small, typically one or two locomotives operating over several miles of track. However, some private rail operations are quite large such as the Deseret-Western Railroad, an electrical loop-to-loop railroad which moves coal over a 35-mile route between the Deserado Coal Mine near Rangely, Colorado Rangely is a town in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, United States. The population was 2,096 at the 2000 census. Geography
Rangely is located at  (40.086181, -108.797944)GR1.
, and the Deseret's Bonanza Bonanza

saga of the Cartwright family. [TV: Terrace, I, 111–112]

See : Wild West
 Power Plant near Bonanza, Utah.

Using the information in these sources, a series of interviews was conducted to better understand the issues related to the use of industrial railroad operations. The initial interviews were conducted at several railroad conferences with shippers who have private rail operations, as well as a supplier of locomotives for such operations. These initial interviews were used to determine research issues and potential sources of information on the practice. From this research, a more formalized for·mal·ize  
tr.v. for·mal·ized, for·mal·iz·ing, for·mal·iz·es
1. To give a definite form or shape to.

a. To make formal.

 list of questions was developed which examined the basic benefits and issues related to the practice, as well as several about a significant issue related to locomotive availability.

Potential candidates for the interview process were selected from private rail operators who attend industrial rail conferences, such as those sponsored by the American Railway Engineering & Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA AREMA American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association
AREMA Association for the Rebirth of Madagascar
) and the American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA ASLRRA American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association ), and training programs sponsored by AREMA and the University of Tennessee The University of Tennessee (UT), sometimes called the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UT Knoxville or UTK), is the flagship institution of the statewide land-grant University of Tennessee public university system in the American state of Tennessee. . Companies were chosen that represented the major industrial groups with private rail operations, including agriculture, chemical, mining, power utility, and steel. The companies interviewed represent 62 separate facilities in the United States and Canada. Most interviews were conducted at a conference or training site, however, several were conducted by telephone or at the site of the industrial operation. An interesting finding from the interviews was that most of the companies were happy to talk about their practices but many requested that their company names not be used due to concern about attracting attention from the Federal Railroad Administration.

The interviews uncovered four basic strategic areas that differentiate the operations. These were (1) the method of switching, (2) the operator of the rail facility, (3) the ownership of the rail equipment (locomotives), and (4) methods of dealing with the aging of the available rail equipment. Each of these will be examined in more detail.


Little public information exists on what is the appropriate car moving technique for different types of industrial rail operations. For example, while all of the major North American Class I railroads have detailed specifications for the construction and maintenance of private railroad track, none include information on locomotive or equipment design. A survey of historical railroad literature and interviews with operators of such railroads indicate that private railroad operations use four basic methods to move equipment: (1) gravity, (2) mechanical methods (e.g., loaders, cables, winches, pulleys), (3) off-track and on-track equipment, and (4) traditional locomotives.

Today, gravity operations are seldom used in rail operations due to the lack of direct control of the equipment involved. However, just as the railroad industry uses gravity in hump hump (hump) a rounded eminence.

dowager's hump  popular name for dorsal kyphosis caused by multiple wedge fractures of the thoracic vertebrae seen in osteoporosis.
 yards, a few industries still use a change in elevation to move railroad equipment around a facility.

Cables, winches and pulleys have been used since railroads were first invented. For example, the Allegheny Portage Railroad The Allegheny Portage Railroad was the first railroad constructed through the Allegheny Mountains in central Pennsylvania, USA. It was a series of 10 inclines, approximately 36 miles long, and operated from 1834 to 1854.  was built in 1834 with ten cabled incline planes to cross the Allegheny Mountains Allegheny Mountains

Ranges of the Appalachian system in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, U.S., west of and generally parallel to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
 in Pennsylvania. While the concept is seldom used in the common carrier railroad industry, similar systems are still being invented and used in the industrial railroad area. For example, US Patent 4,637,316 (Carroll, 1987), approved in 1987, was for "a rail car movement and positioning apparatus comprising a pair of spaced parallel opposing horizontal channel Horizontal Channel

Two parallel horizontal trendlines acting as very strong support and resistance. The upper trendline connects a stock's highs over a period of time, and each high is equal to the previous high.
 rails." Mechanical systems are also often used in car unloading Unloading

Selling securities or commodities whose prices are dropping to minimize loss.
, such as spacing coal cars for unloading at power plants. However, such systems are very limited in the number of cars they can handle at a single time and are generally appropriate only for small operations.

Off-track equipment is a commonly used system since many plants have heavy equipment such as front-end loaders and tractors that are used for other tasks. Additionally, there are several manufacturers of such devices that have rail wheels as part of their design that allow better equipment control while moving railcars. The major advantage of any off-track switching device is the easy track on/off movement of the device and the ability to move around equipment on roads without using tracks such as sidings. Pure off-track equipment such as front-end loaders have the advantage of multiple task use while more specialized track mobile systems have the advantages of longer wheel life and more consistent coefficient of friction coefficient of friction
n. pl. coefficients of friction
The ratio of the force that maintains contact between an object and a surface and the frictional force that resists the motion of the object.
 of steel on steel over a range of weather conditions (Trackmobile, 2008). According to the three major manufacturers of such devices, Trackmobile, Shuttlewagon and RailKing, more than 10,000 of these machines have been sold around the world since 1950 and many industrial operators have one or more of these devices.

Full-size railroad locomotives are a popular choice for industrial railroads, generally due to their historic availability, long life, and ability to move large numbers of railcars in a single move. This final characteristic, the ability to move large blocks of rail equipment, is becoming more important as railroad rate structures encourage larger rail movements, often in full, unit-train sized shipments. Industry sources (Bomba, 2005) report that there is no direct competition between car movers and locomotives due to the number of cars that can be moved by a locomotive.


Industrial railroads are typically operated by one or more of the following techniques. These include having a private railroad operated by a common carrier railroad, having a private railroad operated by a contract switching operator, or a shipper operating their own private railroad operation. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Common Carrier Operation

For many private rail operations, the first option is to own the track and then pay the serving railroad a special fee or a higher rate that includes the required switching services. For example, the U.S. Army Rail Policy (2001), states that "rail assets will be acquired according to the availability of commercial rail transportation assets." Advantages of this strategy for the private rail owner include the lack of equipment investment, a reduction in the requirements for operational management and supervision, and the elimination of payroll positions and the associated costs and liabilities. Additionally, one electric utility company reported that when they connected their internal rail operation to several major railroads, their shipment rates dropped enough due to the new competition to pay for the trackage expansion in less than six months.

However, railroads generally are hesitant hes·i·tant  
Inclined or tending to hesitate.

hesi·tant·ly adv.
 to assign equipment and crews to specific customers and instead attempt to serve multiple customers together in a region. As reported in Railway Age (1998), "Switching has always been a cost for railroads, not a source of revenue. Usually they would rather concentrate on longer hauls and leave switching to the customer." Therefore, the private rail owner often has minimal control over the service level and schedule provided, eliminating most of the benefits of a private rail operation.

Contract Switching Operation

Many published and negotiated rail rates include incentives for shippers to operate their own rail operations. This is accomplished by either handling the operation internally, or by contracting the service to a company that specializes in such service. Within the railroad industry, there are several large contract switching operators. These include railroad operators such as Genesee & Wyoming (2008) with 23 industral, 16 port, and 14 coal loading operations, and companies specifically in the contract railcar switching business such as Railserve (2008) with more than 65 industrial operations.

Using a third-party operator has a number of advantages. According to Byran Davis of Eastman Chemical, having a private rail operation is needed since the serving railroads won't provide dedicated service and switch Eastman as the railroad's schedule allows. Additionally, the use of a contractor allows large block rates and full time service to match production needs. In their case, the contractor not only handles the rail operations, but also provides and maintains the rail equipment and track for Eastman (2009).

Industry Operation

A review of companies that operate and manage their own private rail operations finds that many have the managerial expertise to do so in a cost effective manner while delivering responsive rail services. In today's competitive environment, this is a necessity according to Lubbecke (2001), who states that "an industrial in-plant railroad is subject to competition and has to be managed pursuant to economic aspects." Additionally, "market deregulations in the railroad sector some years ago forced private railroads to offer a better transportation quality and to decrease charges." In a number of cases, the managerial skills of the shipper and the operational flexibility of the operation (for example, employees performing both rail and non-rail assignments for the shipper) has encouraged shippers to operate their own industrial railroads. Such private operations tend to exist where the rail operations are small, infrequent in·fre·quent  
1. Not occurring regularly; occasional or rare: an infrequent guest.

 and there is insufficient business to attract an operator, or where the operations are large, frequent, and complex enough to justify hiring a qualified staff.


Locomotive ownership follows the same patterns of most corporate asset investments. The availability of capital funds, corporate expertise, and the availability of reasonable alternatives all play a role in making the decision. The U.S. Army Rail Policy (2001) states that before acquiring a locomotive for a facility, the installation will examine whether the line-haul railroad will provide the locomotive and switching service. The problem that the Army and many shippers face is that railroads prefer to not provide such switching services at a reasonable price. Therefore, acquisition of rail equipment such as locomotives is often necessary. This acquisition is generally accomplished via lease or purchase.

Relco states that leasing a locomotive instead of buying one has numerous advantages, such as access to a "large inventory of locomotives available in a variety of specifications and price levels," expertise in matching the proper locomotive to the job, the availability of service support, and the elimination of the need for the industry to train maintenance personnel and keep specialized parts and tools on-hand (Relco).

However, according to one company with numerous private rail operations across North America, ownership of their fleet of locomotives is looked upon as an asset, designed to ensure their availability. In this case, the number of such operations has allowed it to hire management and operational specialists who work with the railroad facilities.

Approximately two-thirds of the industrial rail operations use only one locomotive, requiring equipment reliability and quick repairs. Less than a dozen U.S. operations have twenty or more locomotives while no Canadian facilities have such numbers. Table 3 demonstrates the tendency for private rail operations to use only a few locomotives. While no hard data is available, interviews suggest that companies with large fleets of locomotives tend to own them while smaller fleets are often leased. This seems to be somewhat supported by the equipment listings in the "Canadian Trackside Guide" and the "Comprehensive Guide to Industrial Locomotives", as well as listings of customers provided by various locomotive leasing companies.


One of the few published standards for choosing a locomotive for a private railroad is found in the U.S. Army Rail Policy (2001). This standard states that "army-owned rail equipment for use in the continental United States will generally be standard, commercially designed equipment comparable to equipment being used in commercial industry."

According to the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, the type, size, and power of a locomotive is The Steam locomotive IS was a Soviet passenger steam locomotive. The contract design has been prepared in 1929 at the Kolomna factory. The IS were manufactured between 1932 and 1942.
  • Weight: 133 t
  • Coupling weight: 88 t
  • Speed: 100–115 km/h.
 generally defined by the "profile of the track, the maximum grade to be encountered, the number of cars and the weight of the cars (Ramani)." For most industrial operations, track engineering standards are generally unfavorable with tracks often placed with little regard to grade or straightness. Additionally, train speeds are often low with minimum horsepower to ton requirements. These conditions result in the need for smaller and lighter locomotives in the 1000 to 2000 horsepower range. Locomotives of this type were produced from the 1940s through the 1970s by a number of manufacturers.

Between 1920 and 1960, at least 39 companies in North America built various types of internal combustion locomotives for the railroad industry. Many of these were smaller-sized locomotives perfect for today's industrial railroads. However, most of these companies were out of business by World War II, and in 2009, neither Electro E`lec´tro

n. 1. An electrotype.
 Motive Diesel or GE Transportation, the two largest North American manufacturers of new railroad locomotives, manufacture locomotives that are appropriate for industrial operations. However, for many years, they both manufactured locomotives appropriate for both mainline mainline Drug slang verb To inject a drug  and industrial operations. Additionally, locomotives built by companies no longer in the business, such as American Locomotive Company (Alco), Baldwin Locomotive, and Whitcomb, are still available in the second hand market. Since these manufacturers often continued to build locomotives into the 1960s, used equipment was available at low cost from the commercial railroad industry until the 1970s and 1980s. Table 4 illustrates this mix of manufacturers.

According to Steve Bomba of Relco Locomotives (2005), the knowledge of locomotive buyers varies, but generally the knowledge is locomotive model specific from past experience and ownership. This generally means that industrial buyers prefer lower horsepower switch engines, especially those built by EMD EMD Electromechanical dissociation, see there  (Electro Motive Diesel, formerly Electro Motive Division of General Motors), such as SW1200, SW1500, MP15, and SW1000. However, with few being built in many years, the supply is tight. Additionally, older locomotives, while they have an almost unlimited lifespan due to rebuilding, are beginning to run into environmental and parts issues. This growing concern about the ability to continue to rebuild older locomotives is supported by research published by the National Railway Historical Society (Cook, 2008). Table 5 illustrates the issues related to the age of the equipment used.

The age of equipment and the lack of a steady supply of appropriate locomotives was an often cited problem by private rail operators. Because of the void created, a few companies such as Brookville Equipment Corporation, National Railway Equipment, and Republic Locomotive manufacture small quantities of lower horsepower locomotives, generally by combining new technologies such as modern generator sets and batteries with parts from retired railroad equipment. While these practices are considered to be successful, they do greatly increase the cost of the equipment and make maintenance and repair more complex for the industrial buyers. Countering this, some manufacturers state that the more modern equipment is cheaper to operate than the older locomotives. For example, Republic Locomotive (2008) states that their new locomotive "saves 1,000,000 gallons of fuel over the life of the locomotive" and has "very low maintenance requirements." In addition, the new locomotives are also often Tier 3 compliant with greatly reduced emissions, important for many industries. Nevertheless, none of these manufacturers are building locomotives in large numbers and several have gone out of business after only manufacturing several test models.

Representatives of several private rail operations stated that acquiring appropriate locomotives has become more difficult and costly. One company, Cemex Inc., recently spent more than $2 million to acquire a modern EMD mainline locomotive, built to CSX CSX Chessie Seaboard Multiplier (railroad transportation company)
CSX Cayman Islands Stock Exchange
CSX Changsha, China (Airport Code)
CSX Cardiac-Specific Homeobox
CSX Seaboard Coastline Railroad
 specifications, to switch their cement plant in New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels (pronounced "Brawnfells") is a city in Texas in the United States. Braunfels means "brown rock" in German; the city is named for Braunfels, in Germany. In 2000, its population was 36,494, while in 2005 the U.S. . While costly, this solution does provide options should the company decide to sell off the locomotive. However, few shippers have such funds available and the costs would eliminate most or all of the financial incentives provided by the connecting rail carrier.


As stated, the area of private rail operations is little researched. However, changes in the railroad industry around the world seem to favor the practice. In the United States and Canada, more than 2200 rail shippers operate private rail operations with various types of full-size locomotives, generally to provide both economic and service benefits. Many operators report that private rail operations are encouraged by the multi-car rate structure offered by rail carriers, and often by the inability of the railroad to provide service on a timely and as needed as needed prn. See prn order.  basis. The need to ship and receive in shipment sizes of as much as 110 cars requires a constant crew and locomotive presence at the plant, something few railroads will provide. Additionally, many facilities either operate on a 24-hour basis or at irregular intervals, again making it unlikely that the rail carrier will be available to provide the needed service when it is required.

While these benefits are becoming more important for many companies, interviews seem to indicate that potential shortages in locomotives and in skilled managers with rail operational experience are beginning to impact the practice. Several contract switching companies have been formed to provide the crew, locomotive and management expertise needed for private rail operators. Based upon both company promotional information and industrial interviews, contract operators handle approximately fifty percent of the private rail operations in Canada and the United States, with the number growing. However, several companies with numerous facilities and operations reported that the economies of scale have allowed them to bring such operations in-house.

Both private rail operators and locomotive sales companies reported that the fleet suitable for such operations is aging and that many of the locomotives currently being used will not be available much longer due to a lack of repair parts and for environmental reasons. This problem is made worse by the move to larger horsepower locomotives by Class 1 railroads with the result that most second-hand locomotives are not suitable for most private operations. While several companies exist to rebuild older locomotives, the long-term solution seems to be with new, smaller locomotives built for the industry. However, the economic recession of 2009 has already resulted in several such proposed builders ceasing business.

The objective of this initial study was to simply build a foundation of information upon which further research can be based. Future research will focus on the financial and service benefits derived from such private rail operations, as well as the operational strategies used by companies. Finally, barriers to companies wishing to use the practice will be explored in more detail.


"Army Rail Policy (2001)," Army Regulation 56-3, Surface Transportation Management of Army Rail Equipment, Headquarters--Department of the Army, Washington, DC.

Association of American Railroads (2009), "An Introduction to Freight Railroads," [On-Line]. Available: Educational%20Materials%20for%20Teache rs.aspx. Accessed 5/3/09.

Blaszak, Michael (2009), "Your Next Meal Starts Here," Trains Magazine, 69(4): 30-39.

Bomba, Steve, interview, January 24, 2005.

Carroll, Curtis E. (1987), "Rail Car Positioning System--United States Patent 4637316," [OnLine]. Available: http://www.freepatents Accessed 5/3/09.

"Contract switchers move in-plant: a win-win win situation (1998)," Railway Age, 199(2): 33.

Cook, Preston (2008), "Restoring Preserved Diesels," NRHS NRHS National Railway Historical Society
NRHS Nashoba Regional High School (Bolton, Massachusetts)
NRHS North Royalton High School (Ohio)
NRHS New Roads High School (Louisiana) 
 Bulletin, 73(Spring): 24-29.

Coyle, John J., Bardi, Edward J., and Novack, Robert A. (2000), Transportation, 5th ed., Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing.

Davis, Byran, Interview, March 19, 2009.

Federal Railroad Administration (2006), "Chapter 5--Track Safety Standards Safety standards are standards designed to ensure the safety of products, activities or processes, etc. They may be advisory or compulsory and are normally laid down by an advisory or regulatory body that may be either voluntary or statutory.  Classes 1 through 5," Track Safety Standards Compliance Manual. Washington, DC: Office of Safety Assurance and Compliance, Track and Structures Division.

Genesee & Wyoming (2008), "Industrial Switching & Port Operations," [On-Line]. Available: http:// Accessed 5/3/09.

Lubbecke, M.E. (2001), "Engine Scheduling by Column Generation", Ph.D. thesis, Braunschweig University of Technology.

Lubbecke, M.E., and Zimmermann, U.T. (2003) "Engine routing and scheduling at industrial in-plant railroads," Transportation Science., 37(2):183-197.

NationMaster (2009), "Encyclopedia--Industrial Railway," [On-Line}. Available: Industrial-railway. Accessed 1/15/09.

National Private Truck Council (2009), "Industry Profile," [On-Line]. Available: http://www sk=view&id=45&Itemid=87. Accessed 5/3/09.

Railserve (2008), "Contract Railcar Switching," [On-Line]. Available: http://www.railserveinc .com/Railserve.pdf. Accessed 5/3/09.

Ramani, R. V. (1990), "Mine Operation--Rail Haulage." Bruce A. Kennedy ed. Surface Mining, 2nd Edition. Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Littleton, Colorado The City of Littleton is a home rule municipality located in the Denver Metropolitan Area of the State of Colorado. As of 2005, the city is estimated to have a total population of 40,396.[1] Littleton is the 17th most populous city in the State of Colorado. : 658-671.

Reed, Jay (2002), Comprehensive Guide to Industrial Locomotives, 3rd ed., Santa Rosa, CA: Rio Hondo Rio Hondo may refer to:
  • Río Hondo, a town in the Guatemalan department of Zacapa.
  • Rio Hondo (Belize), a river which forms much of the border between Belize and Mexico.
  • Rio Hondo (California), a tributary of the Los Angeles River in the U.S. state of California.

Relco (2008), "Full-Service Leasing," [On-Line]. Available: products/leasing.html. Acessed 5/3/09.

Renner, Stephanie (2008), "Transportation for Tomorrow, Today--Using the in-plant rail switching concept," [On-Line]. Available: east/renner_presentation.pdf. Accessed: 1/15/09.

Republic Locomotives (2008), "RX 500 Industrial Locomotives," [On-Line]/Available: http:// ial_locomotives.html. Accessed 1/15/09.

Roberts, Earl W. and Stremes, David P. (2005), Canadian Trackside Guide 2005, 24th ed., Ottawa, ON, Canada: Bytown Railway Society.

Trackmobile (2008), "Trackmobile Technology," [On-Line]. Available: http://www.trackmobile .com/ourtechnology.htm. Accessed 12/23/08.


Barton Jennings, Ph.D., is an associate professor of supply chain management in the College of Business and Technology at Western Illinois University For another university which uses the abbreviation "WIU", see Webber International University

Main article: Western Illinois Leathernecks
. His research and teaching interests focus on transportation, distribution, and inventory management issues as well as regulatory issues in the railroad industry. Much of his research and presentation activity is based upon daily operational issues related to industrial material and supply movement. Prior to his appointment at WIU WIU Western Illinois University
WIU Western International University
WIU Westmoreland Intermediate Unit (Greensburg, Pennsylvania)
WIU Weapon Interface Unit
WIU Wing Interface Unit
WIU WISDN Interface Unit
, Dr. Jennings worked at the Center for Transportation Research at The University of Tennessee, and prior to that, in various positions in the railroad industry.

Barton Jennings

Western Illinois University

                        No. of       No. of      Locomotives
Facility Type         Facilities   Locomotives   per Facility

Agriculture                441          564          1.28
Quarry/Cement/Mine         217          417          1.92
Power/Utility              214          335          1.57
Steel                      155          589          3.80
Chemicals                  127          231          1.82
Coal                        89          207          2.33
Paper                       42           67          1.60
Scrapyard                   35           48          1.37
Lumber                      17           40          2.35
Misc.                      640         1014          1.58
Total                     1977         3512          1.78


                        No. of       No. of      Locomotives
Facility Type         Facilities   Locomotives   per Facility

Chemicals                  28            57           2.04
Steel                      20            53           2.65
Quarry/Cement/Mine         20            75           3.75
Agriculture                19            28           1.47
Paper                      16            28           1.75
Power/Utility              10            15           1.50
Lumber                      9            15           1.67
Coal                        3             6           2.00
Scrapyard                   1             4           4.00
Misc.                     106           303           2.86
Total                     232           584           2.52


Number per Facility    U.S Facilities (%)   Canadian Facilities (%)

1                              64.5                  56.5
2                              22.4                  18.1
3                               6.8                   9.1
4                               2.0                   4.7
5 or more                       4.3                  11.6


Manufacturer     United States        Canada

EMD/GMD          1621    45.9%     217    38.1%
GE                766    21.7%     146    25.7%
ALCO/MLW          183     5.2%      66    11.6%
Plymouth          211     6.0%      25     4.4%
Brookville         21     0.6%       9     1.6%
Whitcomb           57     1.6%       2     0.4%
Misc.             673    19.1%      60    10.5%


Decade       Canadian Locomotives (%)    U.S. Locomotives (%)

Pre-1920s                0.5                     0.0
1920s                    1.1                     0.1
1930s                    1.9                     0.8
1940s                   13.0                    20.9
1950s                   51.3                    38.1
1960s                   14.2                     9.9
1970s                    5.1                     9.1
1980s                    5.3                     3.7
1990s                    0.7                     0.3
2000s                    0.5                     0.0
Unknown                  6.3                    17.1
COPYRIGHT 2009 Delta Nu Alpha Transportation Fraternity
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Jennings, Barton
Publication:Journal of Transportation Management
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2009
Previous Article:Homeland security vs. cabotage: issues of terrorism or ploys.
Next Article:Feasibility of JP-8 to jet a fuel conversion at U.S. military facilities.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters