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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2022 9:53 pm 

Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 10:27 am
Posts: 205
Location: New Haven Ct area
superheater wrote:
" I wonder what that does for the railroads when the labor cost of their competition essentially goes to zero."

Unless the vendors are giving it away, the labor cost doesn't "essentially" or otherwise, go to zero.

There's still acquisition and implementation costs and maintenance costs and re-evaluation and replacement cost. Those costs are often more than promoted and entail losses not seen.

In the summer of 2001, I took a position as the financial manager of a "sanitary processing" facility in Emmaus, PA. It wasn't my dream job, but it was fascinating to see rented clothes, mats and other things being washed in giant washing machines sitting on shock absorbers bolted to the concrete floor. Anyway, my boss assigned me to ride with one of the drivers/sales personnel for the week. They were often exposed to dirt and filth-worst being the contract for Kevlar impregnated protective clothing with the poultry processor (slaughterhouse).

One of the days, I had to ride with a "jumper" or a replacement driver. Since there was no GPS 20 years ago, this meant getting a cassette player and listening to the regular driver's instructions. While a driver who knew the route could do it in 8-10 hours, the jumpers often took 15. Jumpers learned to walk around with extra batteries, rather than listen to an alto turned into a baritone taking at half speed.. turnnn,,,left... on.... main.. streeeet..

At the end of the week, my boss said to me "so what did you learn?". I told him "whatever you pay these guys, it's not enough.". His response was "that's exactly the lesson you were supposed to learn, don't ever forget it-they make us money, not the other way around"

I suspect the first trucking company that tries to replace its drivers with some 'bot will find out just how valuable a driver is-the first time the bot tries to slip under a 16' bridge, with a 15' 10" load or the when truck hits a patch of black ice on I-81 a few miles North of the Minersville exit, where a chunky little 0-6-0 lives.

Then the difference between cost and value will become apparent. Executives and HR, well they could much more easily be replaced by 'bots.


I think delivery drivers, tow truck drivers, riggers and anyone who needs to come in contact with the loads on either end will be the last to be automated. However I think the Amazon, UPS, FedEx, long haul warehouse to warehouse move of containerized intermodal freight will be the first to automate. The article I was reading was of a FedEx run down in Arizona (no ice or snow) run done successfully with no driver this past week. Sure they had plenty of people watching and providing support for the test run but this is just the beginning.The technology is coming sooner than later. I wonder what it will mean to the railroads when they must compete against driverless trucks that aren't hour of service limited?


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 12:51 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
adammil1 wrote:
I wonder what it will mean to the railroads when they must compete against driverless trucks that aren't hour of service limited?


I will sarcastically suggest that the loss of hours-of-service limitations will be matched by the need to recharge or replace battery packs in these EVs every 150 miles--at least in the transportation world of the future that so many are envisioning/fantasizing........ but, then again, ditto for the locomotives, unless mass electrification of mainline railroads is also in the vision of the futurists and their subsidizers.


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 1:10 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 2018
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Last edited by superheater on Mon Jan 24, 2022 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 9:36 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
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Location: Strasburg, PA
adammil1 wrote:
I wonder what it will mean to the railroads when they must compete against driverless trucks that aren't hour of service limited?
Be sure that RR's are working on crewless trains. PTC will go a long way towards making that possible. I'd say that there are fewer variables to deal with on a crewless train than there are on a driverless truck.

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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 10:04 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:53 pm
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Location: Annville, PA
Should work pretty well with the bomb trains...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAQlLu5ttOk


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 12:23 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 695
Location: Wall, NJ
It an interesting video, an interesting concept. Really a re-imagining of rail based freight services. A couple of points to keep in mind here:

1) You can not just look at the hourly wage of an employee, you have to look at the loaded wage and all the bells and whistles that the local, state, and federal government impose on the employer whether it be health insurance, paid family leave, or the employer's share of unemployment (which has skyrocketed). Many of these costs you as the employer have no control over.

2) Robotics as a Service (RAAS) is a real thing. Google it. The global Robot as a Service market was valued at US$ 12.6 billion in 2020 and is expected to surpass US$ 41.3 billion by 2028. The global medical robot market is expected to reach US$ 12.6 billion by 2025 from an estimated US$ 5.9 billion in 2020. The global logistics robots market is projected to grow from US$ 4.3 billion in 2021 to US$ 15.8 billion in 2028. The super warehouses will all be staffed by SaaS in the future. Have a good job in a Amazon warehouse? You won’t have it for long.

And why SaaS? As a lease arrangement it offers flexibility. Bring on more at Christmas, send them back, or turn them off, in January. No unemployment, no health care costs, no disability, etc.

From what I see, rail based freight may be efficient from a fuel stand point, but a royal pain in the ass for those who could use it, but chose not to. Switch maintenance is an issue. Track maintenance is an issue. Timeliness is a huge issue.

What is nice about this self propelled system is the flexibility it offers and the lite weight approach to the "motive power" for lack of a better word. Granted, this is probably not a good approach for moving stone and other heavy commodities, but for moving containers in particular this has real merit. Think about the savings in track maintenance if not using a heavy locomotive to move three cars into a small warehouse siding Its almost a lite rail approach to freight.

I always wondered what people were thinking when they designed and built the Big Boy. Labor savings versus using multiple locomotives with multiple crews I imagine was a big driver. And then diesels came along, and worse yet they have the MU capability. One engine crew could operate multiple locomotives. It must have been an insane idea to even think about at the time.

We are at that same point today, a change in technology is upon all of us driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). Just as someone looked at the diesel motor and asked himself how it could replace a large steam locomotive, someone is looking at AI and ML and wondering how it can replace the large diesel locomotive.

This is one US based company that I am aware of that is involved in RAAS and AI/ML: https://avawatz.com/

This is all quite real and is happening. Not sure I trust it, but its happening.

J.R. May


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 12:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
Yes, my tongue was a bit in cheek when I wrote the topic, but if nothing else it might prompt people to think seriously about what their strategies would be if all of a sudden there was a glut of modern stuff going away due to technological change..... we tend to react more than act while we focus on playing trains instead of planning.

When I saw this my first reaction was that if used wisely it could make branch lines economically feasible as feeders to yards in which what they delivered could be loaded on to traditional mainline trains for the long haul. This could have the impact of reducing trucking while increasing the rail based share of the freight business doing what it likes to do - lots of stuff moved a long way in one traveling collection. Railroads tried hard to give away short hauls and pickups and setouts - this could possibly bring that traffic back without associated costs - going one step further, what if the containers could make multiple stops for LCL shipments?

Interesting to think about, but the traditional and hidebound mainline railroaders will react pretty much as we've seen in this thread so far.

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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 5:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1776
Battery powered vehicle experiences an electrical malfunction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAQlLu5ttOk

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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 7:10 pm 

Joined: Sun May 20, 2007 10:27 am
Posts: 205
Location: New Haven Ct area
PCook wrote:
Battery powered vehicle experiences an electrical malfunction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAQlLu5ttOk


Diesels explode too!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gNByxwLe_8A


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2022 7:24 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 6204
Location: southeastern USA
So do boilers.....

The only safe technology is that which doesn't exist.

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“God, the beautiful racket of it all: the sighing and hissing, the rattle and clack of the cars over the rails. These were the sounds that made America the greatest country on earth." Jonathan Evison


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 12:37 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3781
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
adammil1 wrote:
PCook wrote:
Battery powered vehicle experiences an electrical malfunction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAQlLu5ttOk


Diesels explode too!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gNByxwLe_8A


WOW!! Talk about spectacular!

All of these, and the videos linked below, are of "runaway" diesels. In this context, "runaway" means some source of fuel, which could include lube oil, gets into the inlet air for the engine. As it is ungoverned, shutting off the fuel supply the engine normally would run on doesn't work. The engine continues to rev up--"run away"--often to the point of destruction.

The only way to stop such a situation is to block off the air, either by stuffing something in the air intake, or firing a CO2 extinguisher into the inlet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvMl8LUzQnk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NRaqgab0_w


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 2:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2004 8:16 pm
Posts: 37
Kelly Anderson wrote:
But then again, I am old, white, male, obsolete, therefore old fashioned, therefore happily retired, much to the joy and relief of my younger and more progressive replacements...

Jeez, Kelly... I truly feel the older I get the more I realize I don't know, and therefore welcome and value learning from and learning of the experiences of those who came before. Despite initial appearances and present-day popular belief, us Millenials and Gen-Z -er's may not actually have all the answers. Having said that, I'm a firm believer in what Jim Carrey once said:

"Old people, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose."

Now don't you go dyin' on me...

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more hair to lose, some more weight to gain, and an audition for a Progressive Insurance commercial to take part in.

-Erich


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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 2:59 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 2171
Location: Strasburg, PA
Erich Armpriester wrote:
Having said that, I'm a firm believer in what Jim Carrey once said:

"Old people, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose."
And as George Carlin once said, "Hire the handicapped, but don't let them take your rectal temperature."

Now, how about we get back to discussing preserving trains?

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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2022 4:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
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Location: Youngstown, OH
The biggest problem with this new idea is the thought that individual cars can just go on their own to their own destinations. But have you noticed that there are very few destinations left? What is this talk about sidings for factories getting served by these autonomous "trains"? There are no sidings. The Class 1s have been so thorough in the removal of business opportunities that you can go from New Castle, PA to Pittsburgh on the former "Little Giant" and count the number of industry switches on both hands. What is left are intermodal terminals and interchanges with other railroads mainly, and those can effectively be served with traditional technology. A problem is that the railroads themselves are no longer interested in doing that. Even profitable business is turned away if it is not profitable ENOUGH.

We have not tried competent management of class 1 railroads yet to see if maybe the current system could be optimized. If we could try that before completely revamping the entire system with autonomous single car trains, that would be great!

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 Post subject: Re: much more to preserve soon?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 6:14 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2005 3:15 pm
Posts: 68
Location: Tualatin, Oregon
I'll give the designers the benefit of the doubt that they wouldn't be thinking that the containers would go trans-con on this thing. Just local delivery. Have you ever seen packages on a conveyor belt in any sort of sorting facility? Now imagine this design moving containers one at a time in an industrial area. A trainload of containers going one at a time through crossings. I would tie up the crossings for who know how long.

I can see something like this working in an individual industry or port facility where containers need to be shuffled around, but not outside a controlled enviroment.

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