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Monthly Archives: May 2011

DC3 Fly-by

Great video of a classic old plane doing a low-level fly-by. The sound of the old rotary-piston props is just beautiful.

Railroad Fuel Efficiency

From an article on Seeking Alpha I found this particular bit of information remarkable:

According to the Association of American Railroads, U.S. freight railroads averaged 484 ton-miles per gallon in 2010, a 106% improvement over the industry average of 235 ton-miles per gallon in 1980.

106% more efficient in 30 years. That’s outstanding! If only we could capture that kind of development in automobiles.

Photo – FedEx LTL

Photo by Nick (aka TRUCKPIX on Flickr).
FedEx Volvo tractor in Philidelphia.

More on Intermodal

A couple more articles on the growth of intermodal shipping within the railroads.

  • Intermodal Container Volume Hits 2011 High
  • Union Pacific to quadruple its Lathrop intermodal yard
  • Bus Rapid Transit

    I’ve been running across the idea of Bus Rapid Transit lately in my reading and I’m intrigued. It seems like a great idea to bridge the gap between cars and metro rail.

    Intermodal Growth

    Interesting article on Reuters regarding the growth of intermodal shipping amongst the railroads. Fuel prices and trucking capacity issues are pushing freight onto the railroads:

    “Rising costs on the truckload side because of increasing capacity scarcity, higher fuel prices, highway congestion, the increased (trucking) regulatory environment all help promote conversion from truck to rail,”

    This got me thinking a little bit. Why don’t the railroads view themselves as full-on logistics companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL? These logistics companies are also shipping companies… but they transport goods from start to finish. All three of these logistics companies operate their own trucking companies, airlines, and distribution centers. They have mastered the transportation of goods.

    When it comes to intermodal the railroads do heavy lifting, but what if they tried to offer a service to also cover the “last mile” of shipping? BNSF ships a good amount for UPS, JB Hunt, Xtra Intermodal, etc. and lets them handle the “last mile”. Is there no money to be made off that last mile? What efficiencies could be brought to the transportation of freight if a railroad like BNSF purchased JB Hunt and provided integrated “door-to-door” service?

    It seems like Union Pacific almost gets it:

    “We see a possible 11 million truckloads of opportunity, meaning 11 million truckloads we could potentially convert from highway to Union Pacific,” spokesman Thomas Lange said.

    The railroad recently bought 5,000 shipping containers, boosting its fleet 9 percent,

    Why stop there? Don’t just buy shipping containers. Buy the tractors and trailers and finish the job? Provide fully integrated logistics. I’m sure they’ve looked at this. What am I missing?

    Photo – Milan Apron

    Milan Airport
    Planes lined up on the apron in Milan, Italy during a layover from our recent trip to Rome. They clearly don’t have enough jetways as it seems all inbound flights deplane on the apron.

    Space Transportation

    Not really Trains, Planes, or Autos, but transportation nonetheless. Some interesting articles written with regards to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo program.

  • Apollo plus 50 via The Economist
  • At What Price The Moon? via The Atlantic
  • Photo – Rome Streetcar


    Grabbed this shot today while walking from the Metro to Vatican City in Rome.

    We Need More of This

    Burlington Chief Executive Officer Matthew K. Rose is determined to take advantage of the industry’s improved climate and the flexibility he gets by having only one shareholder—Buffett. This year, Rose is boosting capital spending by 31 percent, triple the increase of other major rails. He’s buying about 200 locomotives and building more huge transfer facilities where rail freight containers are switched to and from trucks before and after their transport by train. Rose’s goal: to bolster the second-largest U.S. railroad’s competitiveness relative to long-haul truckers.

    via BusinessWeek.