Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Intermodal and General Traffic Density Map

I came across a link that is worthy of its own posting: intermodal traffic density map. (Update: I see Ports of Indiana has broken that link! Bummer! Fortunately, I wrote enough about the map that we get a feel for what it looked like.)

The thick line from Southern California to Chicago would be over the BNSF/SantaFe route. Looking at the system maps of NS and CSX, it appears the transcontinental traffic is handed off to NS. This is probably because of their competitive advantage of the Streator, IL cut-off. This traffic flow would explain the BNSF/NS merger noise I have been seeing on the web. It will be interesting to see how thin this line becomes once the Panama Canal enlargement project is completed.

The flow from Salt Lake to Chicago shows how important the Chicago and NorthWestern route is for the Union Pacific. The former Burlington Northern route between Seattle and Chicago is also an important corridor. The major surprise is that most of the San Francisco Bay traffic goes via Southern California rather than use the former Southern Pacific route to the east.

System Map with Corridors Tab
Evidently NS plans for their Crescent Corridor and Meridian Speedway are not finished. Or the construction is finished but they were not able to sell it. Especially the Meridan Speedway. Then I noticed that I could not find a date for the traffic map. Maybe the map is old enough that it predates the construction of the new corridors. You can see the Heartland Corridor flow on the traffic map.

Container standards and clearances. The standard international length is 20' and 40', and the standard domestic length is 53'. The height of a double-stack is 20' 3". The standard width is 8'. Ted Gregory commented on a posting:
When I was working on my Exec Masters in Intermodal Transp. Mgmt, I read a few yrs back BNSF plans to keep running trailers cuz it helps the small truckers get into intermodal easier and quicker, since they don't need a huge capital outlay to buy new containers. BNSF is brilliant. I know of at least one Class I RR that won't allow trailers. Why would u turn away business??
CSX, NS, UP, BNSF, FEC (havent seen KCS and CN in awhile, but they WERE doing same) all run their intermodal trains in blocks like you describe. Reasons are many: rail equipment available, unloaders available. CSX runs single stacks cuz of tunnel and bridge clearances. CP runs only double stacked 8'-6"s thru Detroit Windsor tunnel. CN can run full, highcube doubles thru Sarnia Tunnel 9'-6". 9'-6" is railroad standard.
CSX, NS, UP, BNSF, FEC (havent seen KCS and CN in awhile, but they WERE doing same) all run their intermodal trains in blocks like you describe. Reasons are many: rail equipment available, unloaders available. CSX runs single stacks cuz of tunnel and bridge clearances. CP runs only double stacked 8'-6"s thru Detroit Windsor tunnel. CN can run full, highcube doubles thru Sarnia Tunnel 9'-6". 9'-6" is railroad standard.
I wonder how this is impacting the flow of containers across the country.
safe_image for Congestion in Southern California Spreads to Other West Coast Ports



I'm finding maps for general freight as well.

The numbers for the scale are 250, 125 and 62.5 million tons per year. The big blob in the middle would have been coal from the Powder River Basin. These 2016 flows would look different in 2020, even before the COVID-19 disease hit the country.
WashingtonPost, 2016


The flows in 1999 from an Illinois perspective.
05_OpsIT_Allen_Chuck.pdf, probably from the CREATE site

California Air Resources Board, Freight Locomotives, p. 27 (I-1) from FRA 2015  (source)

This image shows the route from Denver to Houston is rather busy. 
safe_image for Where Trains Go, Big Things Follow



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