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Talk to me about railroad spurs. Considering. Don't know enough yet.

huleo

New member
Looking at a building because it is on the rail. However, it does not have any actual track to the property (spur). It is across the road from a grain elevator so you can bet there is full action there. I'd like to get all the details on this as it will strongly influence the building decision.

Not only how to see about getting a spur on the place, costs, to who, do I have to own the cars, how do I get them back, who do I need to talk to, etc. I need to get in the know about rail transport.

This has been a real problem in our area. We don't have many that take advantage of rail access in our area other than for ag products. We have seen demands for things on rail, but last time I looked, the costs and hurdles were insane. Maybe rail is really just for folks that move massive volumes of something on the daily? I'd like to see what is possible.
 

wgnrr1

New member
Biggest problem is that it's across the road from you. It may never be possible in today's world. Second, most railroads don't want to deal with less than unit trains. If it's a short line that services the elevator, the chances are better, but not if you're on the other side of the road.

22 years dealing with railroads has taught me one thing, if you're on the CN, stick to trucking.

Sent from my rotary dial flip fone
 

ratbldr427

New member
Our old plant had a spur and when we built our new plant one of the requirements was to have a spur which the property had.

At the old plant we had a landing dock and used portable ramps t connect the car to dock.At the new plant we installed several very expensive hydraulic ramps.

We used to receive a lot of our roll stock and send a lot of scrap for recycle by rail. Depending on what material you use , we had some "box car special" fork lifts.

However times change, last time we used the rail was 7-8 years ago.We ended up giving away the automatic docks. I was thinking about getting them and remarketing them but from the lack of use the shafts on the cylinders were all rusted.

As far as the cars go I think the rail company owned them and just charged a user fee.

There is a paper plant near us that switched over to a recycle plant years ago when recycle was the coming thing but now they can't compete with virgin pulp. We used to make good money off scrap but now its just a break even deal,it would cost a big deal to ship it to a land fill.

So every thing is by truck now, if it ever swings back to rail we can build a few ramps(I actually built one to replace a worn out one at the old plant) and be back in the rail shipping.
The way it worked we would receive new paper in and ship scrap out. However one time the guy that handled that called for a pickup thinking the car was loaded(it wasn't) and sent an empty to Omaha.

Another thing we had to contend with was damaged car doors, spend an hour or so with comealongs and jacks to open them! How the hell did they do that?
 

dalmatiangirl61

Active member
I know a guy that bought an old grain elevator because it had a rail spur, and he had a scrap business. Spur had not been used in 20 some odd years, RR refused him service until the spur was basically rebuilt, I forget exact number but it was major bucks. He still has it, but spur is still unusable. Get quotes on a spur before you commit to the property.
 

huleo

New member
I just wanted to be clear, the property directly adjoins to the RR property and actual rail is 50ft from property line. I don't yet know who owns the rail. Help there?

As for cars, I suspect we would want to move flatbeds or dump cars. It does sound like some headaches to move certain things as a rail car is not mobile like a truck/trailer. We have a few things we would like to get into but I recall looking at this before and the logistics were just a nightmare. It's like the rail only wants to work with their 'people' from 50yrs ago and that is it.

But this is all stuff I need to sort out. If rail is really not important or cost effective, I would need to know that in my consideration.
 

huleo

New member
I know a guy that bought an old grain elevator because it had a rail spur, and he had a scrap business. Spur had not been used in 20 some odd years, RR refused him service until the spur was basically rebuilt, I forget exact number but it was major bucks. He still has it, but spur is still unusable. Get quotes on a spur before you commit to the property.

That's where I'm headed! Who is authorized to build the spur? We carry a PE stamp, but never got into anything like this, and I suspect the RR probably has their "union" bros to do everything for 50x what their worth. Does the spur stay on RR property? It appears so for the coop across the track. How does the car hitch/unhitch thing work? I assume if you have a car coming, they drop a car on the spur and roll on? Never actually watching it happen.

Ironically there is an elevator near my old place that is now for sale. Was around it for 20yrs. It has been at least that long since it ran, but some smart farmers used the bins onsite for grain storage.
 

true temper

Active member
Don’t let this happen, it can get real expensive. The rear set of trucks didn’t follow the front set through the switch.
Pulled it into a stationary car.
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Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

gbent

Active member
Talk to some people who deal with the railroad, particularly your possible railroad. You will find you do things the railroad's way, when the railroad wants to do it. I know people who have had IRS audits and railroad dealings, and they would rather have an IRS audit. If you want to sign contracts for multiple unit trains per week for 20 years, the railroad will be merely difficult to deal with. As your volume drops, the difficulty factor rises exponentially.
 

Mcgyver

New member
I just wanted to be clear, the property directly adjoins to the RR property and actual rail is 50ft from property line. I don't yet know who owns the rail. Help there?
.

go ask the municipality. Worst case look at the assessment rolls, that'll tell you the owner and search from there
 

lucky7

Active member
Do you make something that can only be moved by rail? If no, why would you want to give up the flexibility that trucking allows?

L7
 

DDoug

Active member
Do you make something that can only be moved by rail? If no, why would you want to give up the flexibility that trucking allows?

L7

Potential cost saving.

Recall CSX's advert a few years ago "A ton of freight, 640 miles, on one gallon of fuel"
 

dalmatiangirl61

Active member
That's where I'm headed! Who is authorized to build the spur? We carry a PE stamp, but never got into anything like this, and I suspect the RR probably has their "union" bros to do everything for 50x what their worth. Does the spur stay on RR property? It appears so for the coop across the track. How does the car hitch/unhitch thing work? I assume if you have a car coming, they drop a car on the spur and roll on? Never actually watching it happen.

Ironically there is an elevator near my old place that is now for sale. Was around it for 20yrs. It has been at least that long since it ran, but some smart farmers used the bins onsite for grain storage.

I was not close enough to be privy to all the details, iirc it was "RR approved contractors", friend offered to tear out old spur to lesson the cost but even that was nixed. I would suggest crossing the tracks and talking to the folks running the COOP, someone there can probably point you in the right direction.
 

wgnrr1

New member
I suspect the RR probably has their "union" bros to do everything for 50x what their worth. Does the spur stay on RR property? It appears so for the coop across the track.

In the current world, all railroad services are done through AAR billing at set rates. Makes it fair for everyone. A civilian contractor bills the same as a Class 1.

Most industrial tracks are industry owned, but the railroad will inspect it for compliance before ever moving on it. If it's not up to par, it must be repaired. That bill will be the same wether the RR does it or a contractor.

I have 22 years experience on the subject and am an FRA qualified track inspector.

Sent from my rotary dial flip fone
 

DDoug

Active member
In the current world, all railroad services are done through AAR billing at set rates. Makes it fair for everyone. A civilian contractor bills the same as a Class 1.

"Fair for everyone".....Just not, wait for it...."the customers".....competition be dammed.
 

CatMan

Member
I think I would have to have something that was so heavy or so big it couldn't be moved by truck to even consider a rail shipment.

You think dealing with truck brokers are bad? Railroads are worse IF you are privileged enough for them to deal with you.

To me that rail spur wouldn't even be a consideration in a building purchase. However, I don't build anything that can't fit on a truck.
 

cnctoolcat

New member
Unless you're making steam turbines or some other too-large-to-truck stuff, you don't want or need rail services.

The six Class 1 railroads in North America have focused on larger customers and longer trains, with a new operating method known as "Precision Scheduled Railroading" --- and it has really disrupted the industry in many ways. Service to most current shippers is terrible, hourly employee's morale is in the toilet....all in the name of more profit.

Trucking is the only option to consider.

ToolCat
 

DDoug

Active member
Unless you're making steam turbines or some other too-large-to-truck stuff, you don't want or need rail services.

The six Class 1 railroads in North America have focused on larger customers and longer trains, with a new operating method known as "Precision Scheduled Railroading" --- and it has really disrupted the industry in many ways. Service to most current shippers is terrible, hourly employee's morale is in the toilet....all in the name of more profit.

Trucking is the only option to consider.

ToolCat

Interesting.

i wonder if you would containerize your stuff, would it go faster/better ?
 

dalmatiangirl61

Active member
i wonder if you would containerize your stuff, would it go faster/better ?
We sold a factory out of Ontario five or six years ago, went by rail. I think it was about twenty containers, straight across the country to Vancouver, onto a ship, was smooth. Way better than trucking, but there was a lot of containers ... maybe rail is worse but I sure do hate trucking. At least for machinery, trucks are worse than bandits and less reliable.
 
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