Rail Trends 2015 Recap

Canadian Pacific’s proposal to Norfolk Southern. The tenor of the dialogue regarding the buyout proposal was cautious and, I believe, tended to be more supportive of evolutionary change. Surface Transportation Board Chairman Dan Elliott told us that if there’s a filing, the process could take 16-plus months.

Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern

CN continues to set the standard — and not only with its reported 3Q operating ratio (OR) of 53.8. EVP and CMO JJ Ruest noted that CN’s capital plans should continue at roughly the same pace to support long-term capacity, surge capacity, service and safety efforts. JJ was also one of many presenters to discuss the “bright side of cheap natural gas,” which CN will see in western Canada and Louisiana.

A CN Rail train rounding a curve. The Canadian Press Images/Stephen C. Host
A CN Rail train rounding a curve. The Canadian Press Images/Stephen C. Host


Short lines still providing manifest/industrial carload exposure for Class Is — perhaps never more important, given the challenges to bulk. We heard from leaders at four top players in the field — Genesee & Wyoming CFO TJ Gallagher, Watco CEO Rick Webb, Patriot Rail President and CEO John Fenton and OmniTRAX CEO Kevin Shuba. All save the latter (no coal!) noted that their volumes have not improved, but each has employed innovative efforts to drive business to their lines, an exhausting and constant practice.

Georgia Northeastern RR
Georgia Northeastern RR


Tony Hatch is an independent transportation analyst and consultant, and a program consultant for Progressive Railroading’s RailTrends® conference.


The Tobin Packing Company of Albany (Makers of First Prize Hot Dogs)


The Albany Times Union recently had a feature article on long-gone Tobin Packing of Albany.

They had quite a collection of pictures. The old First Prize Truck at the top is courtesy of Hanks Truck Pictures

The plant lasted from 1924 to 1981 and the ruins are still for sale.

As well as First Prize, meat processing was once a big industry in Albany. The Swift meat packing company was first founded in 1855 by 16 year old Gustavus Franklin Swift in Eastham, Massachusetts. It’s early origins on Cape Cod, led to later Brighton, MA, Albany, NY and Buffalo, NY locations, It was finally in Chicago. Gustavus Swift also championed the refrigerated railroad car.

Comets 2 @ Penguins 4

The Utica Comets surrendered two power-play goals to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins en route to a 4-2 loss Saturday evening at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The loss sends the Comets to their fifth consecutive loss.

Defensemen Jon Landry (0-2-2) and Jordan Subban (0-2-2) enjoyed multi-point nights. Alex Friesen (1-0-1) and Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) found the back of the net for the Comets, while Joe Cannata recorded his second loss in as many nights with a 24-save performance.

The Penguins got the scoring started early when Tom Kostopoulos tapped in an easy power-play goal after he received a highlight-reel pass from Conor Sheary.

The Comets appeared to be headed to the dressing room trailing 1-0 after Danny Syvret swept away a puck that found its way behind Joe Cannata. However, Will O’Neill quickly corralled the puck and fired a shot into the net with just five seconds left in the period.

As the second period wound down, the Comets capitalized on massive opportunity to get back into the game when the Penguins took back-to-back penalties. Wacey Hamilton cleanly won the offensive draw back to Jordan Subban. Subban stepped off the boards, and slipped a pass over to Jon Landry, who one-timed a slap shot on net that Shinkaruk redirected past Tristan Jarry for his 14th goal of the season.

The Penguins regained their two goal lead seven minutes into the final period when Scott Wilson fired a slap shot past Cannata on the power play.

The Comets made things interesting when Friesen roofed a shot over Jarry’s shoulder with the goaltender pulled.

However, the Penguins pushed their lead back to two with an empty-net goal with just 21 seconds left.

With the loss the Comets record falls to 16-14-3-2. The Penguins improved their record to 26-8-0-1 with the win.

The Comets three games in three days weekend concludes tomorrow evening in Hershey. Puck drop between the Bears and Comets is scheduled for 5pm at the Giant Center.