"Thank you for writing about Speedlink. Jack Koraleskiís bold leadership made it possible but fatal flaws in execution doomed it.
One friend from the Portland & Western did a serious double take one day working in the Albany, Ore. yard when he saw three UP locomotives and one box car fly by. That was that dayís Speedlink! If that was the Southern under Graham Claytor, that box car would have been on the head end of the Southern Crescent, another industry friend advised.
In 2003 I researched Speedlink and made an acquaintance that got me started on a 12-year portion of my career with a truck broker in Oregon who helped keep it going through its end.
One area for careful partnership, if one were to approach box car transload again, is the railroad rate agreement. If railroads simply bill four truckload equivalents per box car, then most box car will not generate sufficient revenue, because relatively few products are sufficiently dense and heavy to compress four truckloads into one box car.
Other challenges, the cost of labor to trans load, and claims from handling. But USPS, UPS, FedEx and LTL carriers have figured out transloading without damages.
Enough time has passed that it is no longer proprietary to say that the Northbound Speedlink rate, from interviewing one of the managers involve, was too deeply discounted to the customers. The Northbound rate needed to be kept relatively high to cross finance the Southbound backhaul service. Truckers did and continue to do a good job maximizing their headhaul and backhaul rates in the LA-Portland-LA market.
But youíre right, with focus and partnership, unit box car trains are a back-to-the-future model that may work. The UP dispatch center in Omaha, if memory serves right, was converted from a trans load facility that was common in most cities before the Interstate Highway system.
Iím involved with a possible commodity group that may load to large blocks of box cars, but I canít talk about it, for proprietary reasons. Weíre working to manage the factors noted, above. Hopefully it will take off and others will figure it out, too.
I think I recall your name from Trains Newswire, did you find my comment there, or have we met before and where?
Please see the work I am involved with in Nevada, below, Iaíd be glad to field your questions and feedback.
Robinson Foster, Development Director
RAIL Solution - Steel Interstate
2375 Falcon Drive
West Linn, OR 97068
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