Author Topic: Some BNSF Questions....  (Read 1182 times)

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ljudice

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Some BNSF Questions....
« on: January 15, 2013, 09:00:39 AM »
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I would ask Warren Buffet, but he's not available, so I'll ask here... :)

- BNSF used to not often mix AC/DC locos, but it looks as if from videos that they seem to mix freely except
  on coal trains which are all AC.  Or am I wrong?

- BNSF solid grain trains tend (today) to be about 50%  5161 (or close standin)  circle/cross,  about 25%
   5161 (swoosh) and about 25%  leased cars (AOK, etc...)  -  4750's seem to be less common in unit trains?

- On intermodal trains BNSF does not carry EMP containers (UP partnership) and you would not see APL
    international containers.  Pacer domestic containers are carried on BNSF.   Right or wrong?

Thanks,
- Lou

« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 09:03:54 AM by ljudice »

Hyperion

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2013, 10:17:18 AM »
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I would ask Warren Buffet, but he's not available, so I'll ask here... :)

Quote
- BNSF used to not often mix AC/DC locos, but it looks as if from videos that they seem to mix freely except
  on coal trains which are all AC.  Or am I wrong?

No, you've got it right.

I've never worked a power planner job, but about 8 years ago I did work with them extensively while I built a computer model that would do predictive workflow stuff (basically forecast power availability into the future based on in/out-bound trains).  So I had to get very familiar with the logic they use to determine consist make-up. 
Our loco assignment system, which tracks and readily displays every single variable that a power planner might need to know to make up a consist, actually doesn't even keep track of whether a unit is AC or DC.  It really isn't particularly important.  What it does do, however, is display if a unit is assigned to a particular service or not.  And, for a long time, if it was an AC unit, it was assigned to Coal service -- which meant you'd be better off not assigning that power to something else unless it was REALLY important (like a UPS Z9 during Xmas).  However, with the proliferation of AC power in our purchases over the last 10 years (right now we've got about 2000 AC units, about 50% of the main road fleet) there's more than enough AC power to go around to other areas.  So they get mixed and matched fairly often.  Except, as you noted, on Coal which is still the domain of AC.  We did move our AC4400 fleet, which I used to maintain out of Lincoln for Coal service, up to Havre so that our growing Export Grain business would have more AC power availability for loaded drags over the pass.  The new C4s are doing alright in most areas, but not quite cut out to hauling (or stopping) that much tonnage over the Rockies.

Quote
- BNSF solid grain trains tend (today) to be about 50%  5161 (or close standin)  circle/cross,  about 25%
   5161 (swoosh) and about 25%  leased cars (AOK, etc...)  -  4750's seem to be less common in unit trains?

I can't really get into this too much because of ongoing lawsuits regarding how BNSF calculates rates and equpment availability to certain customers and I don't want to say something I shouldn't have on the extraordinarily rare chance someone sees it, but, yes, you're going to almost exclusively see 5161's in unit service, while 4750's are relegated to shuttle or less-than-full train service or the rare customer that requires sub-5000cuft cars due to their loading equipment.

Quote
- On intermodal trains BNSF does not carry EMP containers (UP partnership) and you would not see APL
    international containers.  Pacer domestic containers are carried on BNSF.   Right or wrong?

I won't claim to be terribly versed in our Intermodal business, but I know you're right on EMP, APL has a contract with UP (and has for like 30 years), but our Marketing group doesn't list Pacer as one it's larger customers nor access to its containers.  It does list Pacer as a major customer of UP along with access to its containers (and EMP, UMAX and Hub Group), and Pacer as a major customer of CSX.
-Mark

ljudice

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2013, 10:37:51 AM »
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Mark - thanks so much for the quick and in depth reply!

I listen to the Stampede Pass on railroadradio.net - and I've noticed a lot of the AC4400CW's in the lead on trains there...

- Lou


wmcbride

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2013, 12:30:24 PM »
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Mark,

That is very interesting information and I also appreciate it.

So, Lou, I guess that BNSF bug is still biting? Track plan mods?

Bill McBride
Bill McBride

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2013, 01:15:08 PM »
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* Great info Mark!  Thanks for posting.  That certainly matches my experience viewing Tehachapi traffic: with little or no BNSF coal traffic, the locos are Dash-9's, ES44DC's and ES44C4's.  6-axle AC, or anything EMD, is very rare.

* Interesting info about the hoppers.  Happily, of the 90 or so grain hoppers in my fleet, over 60 are 5161's and about 50 of them are BNSF.  :)

* Until someone offers 53' cans in JB Hunt and/or Schneider, (or anything in UPS or any 53' trailer) we can forget about modeling BNSF intermodal even remotely faithfully.  With Deluxe on the sidelines, this is the single biggest gap in modern N scale.  I'm surprised Kato hasn't jumped on the former.  (We can kind of squeak by with Kato containers and Microscale decals, but that's slow going given the volume needed, and only partially correct.)

* Lou, are you new here?  You know where this thread goes.... ;)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 01:42:32 PM by GaryHinshaw »

Hyperion

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2013, 02:00:56 PM »
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* Great info Mark!  Thanks for posting.  That certainly matches my experience viewing Tehachapi traffic: with little or no BNSF coal traffic, the locos are Dash-9's, ES44DC's and ES44C4's.  6-axle AC, or anything EMD, is very rare.

Our South shops aren't particularly well-equpped for AC locomotive repair, so the mix down there still highly favors DC locomotives.  It's just not something they've had to deal with until recently.  Argentine (KC) can do just about anything of course, as can Barstow, it's just a matter of experience is all; it's just not something they do all day, everyday, like a Glendive or Alliance.  Murray (also KC) has probably the most experience with AC locomotive in the region of our South Transcon area, but isn't really on the Transcon.  It's where our North-South Grain and Coal traffic moves through KC, so that our Unit traffic can avoid the major hub of Argentine; and the shop there pales in comparison to Argentine a few miles away.  Intermodal is soon to move out of Argentine a bit East for the same reasons.

Quote
* Until someone offers 53' cans in JB Hunt and/or Schneider, (or anything in UPS or any 53' trailer) we can forget about modeling BNSF intermodal even remotely faithfully.  With Deluxe on the sidelines, this is the single biggest gap in modern N scale.  I'm surprised Kato hasn't jumped on the former.  (We can kind of squeak by with Kato containers and Microscale decals, but that's slow going given the volume needed, and only partially correct.)

Couldn't agree more there.  Domestic Intermodal is almost completely non-existent in N-Scale -- we need JBH, Schneider, UPS, Swift, Dart, and lots of UPS to do BNSF intermodal any justice (and, for me, KCS Intermodal needs the same stuff).  And I don't see anyone but DI stepping up.  They have a lot of stuff I'm interested in in their queue including Pacer, CSXu, EMP, STAX, BNSF-HubGroup, and JBH 53' Cans (of which BNSF modelers could use tons of the JBH, CSXu, and Hub Group varieties, and the others in lesser quantities), but it's been listed as "TBA" for a LONG time now.
-Mark

ljudice

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2013, 02:16:01 PM »
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I'm really sort of back to an old idea here, the concept of BN rebuilding the Snoqualmie Pass route - and modeling it in modern times....

I'lll post some more info soon, but almost everything is fitting into place in the idea.  Basically the layout looks at the area from around North Bend to the West Portal of the tunnel (which is the most scenic section - tunnels, showsheds, tall pines.  I also assume the Snoqualmie sawmill is still in operation.

Will post more soon!

- Lou


Philip H

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2013, 02:51:02 PM »
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I'm really sort of back to an old idea here, the concept of BN rebuilding the Snoqualmie Pass route - and modeling it in modern times....

I'lll post some more info soon, but almost everything is fitting into place in the idea.  Basically the layout looks at the area from around North Bend to the West Portal of the tunnel (which is the most scenic section - tunnels, showsheds, tall pines.  I also assume the Snoqualmie sawmill is still in operation.

Will post more soon!

- Lou

Having worked that area for several years, as well as cross country skied on the old roadbed on the Pass, I shall be interested to see what you do.
Philip H.
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ljudice

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2013, 04:53:31 PM »
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I am probably going to be asking you some questions!

jagged ben

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2013, 06:53:39 PM »
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On intermodal trains BNSF does not carry EMP containers (UP partnership) and you would not see APL
    international containers.  Pacer domestic containers are carried on BNSF.   Right or wrong?

I did a study of this recently, based mostly on photo evidence.   You are correct about EMP and APL.   

Regarding Pacer, it seems that they appeared with some frequency on BNSF trains in the 2008-09 time period, and then were not seen again in normal circumstances.  An educated guess is that a one-year contract was signed that was not renewed.  Also, it seems that UMAX is the successor to Pacer, or at least bought a bunch of their container stock,  as I have recently (the past year) seen Pacer containers re-marked with the UMXU reporting mark.  UMAX containers, btw, appeared in 2011.

In the same general subject area...

Around the same time (2008-9), UP grabbed the Hub Group contract away from BNSF.   Before that, Hub Group had apparently managed and then bought up BNSF's own container fleet.   If you are modeling from 2006-2008 and want to be prototypical, include the Kato BNSF containers (with Hub markings) and the DI red Hub Group containers, and also (if you make them yourself) the white corrugated ones with red logo.   If you are modeling after 2008, these Hub Group is not appropriate for BNSF.  Green Hub Group containers only appeared after the switch to UP, AFAIK.

Generally appropriate 53' domestic containers for BNSF in the last ten years include JB Hunt, Schneider, Swift, and NACS (which seems to have faded away in the last few years).   The blank white UPS containers are relative newcomers, as well as some others that are less common.

Concor made some 53' JBHunt a long time ago (not particularly prototypical), and there are Microscale decals available.  DI made Swift and NACS corrugated containers, if you can find them.  Kato made some NACS exterior post that may be more findable.  Schneider would be the hardest. 

My collected photos were mostly focused on areas out west, and there may be some specific trains in other regions that vary from these observations.   And, need I say it, there's always rule #1.

If anyone is interested in the 90's I could go on about that, too.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 06:56:09 PM by jagged ben »

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2013, 09:42:43 PM »
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The blank white UPS containers are relative newcomers, as well as some others that are less common.

Good info.  I've been seeing a lot of blank white cans in videos lately and could never make out the markings.  UPS eh?

ljudice

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2013, 09:45:39 PM »
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Very interesting information....   

I guess I could run bare table trains and play it safe! :)

My strategy is to concentrate on the layout construction for a while and build up a decent size grain train, a coal train, continue adding appropriate merchandise cars and finish my Boeing cars.  I have also put together a Herzog Ballast train and a bunch of MOW stuff....   I would also like to do a military train, though focused on the more mundane ones you see with a lot of transport equipment.  Although we need Wilmodels to finish his HEMTT project, your easily available European trucks pass nicely as modern US Army trucks when painted flat forest green or desert tan - I believe the US military licensed a family of Austrian trucks which are built in Texas (?) - then mix in some HUMVees' and M113's....

In my world it's likely Stampede is the "rails to trails" - and Stevens is still open for most intermodal.  I don't believe Snoqualmie could handle stacks without at least some work (I think it handled 1970's era autoracks).  So I suspect BNSF would be using my route for heavier trains....

On the west coast I presume baretable trains run WEST??  (In the East they are always eastbound to the NY/NJ ports)


- Lou 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 09:53:18 PM by ljudice »

Philip H

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2013, 10:14:47 PM »
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The tunnels on the Pass would need a height adjustment to handle modern stack trains.
Philip H.
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Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

"I'm trying to have less cranial rectal inversion with this." - Ed K.

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Hyperion

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2013, 10:26:46 PM »
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Quote
I believe the US military licensed a family of Austrian trucks which are built in Texas (?) -

You're thinking of FMTV's, which used to be built in the Houston area when BAE had the contract, but now Oshkosh does, and I believe they're made up in Wisconsin now.  You can definitely just use the Euro trucks, as they're certainly close enough.  There's enough variation in the FMTVs that a little difference wouldn't be all that noticeable anyways.
-Mark

ArtinCA

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Re: Some BNSF Questions....
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2013, 11:04:14 PM »
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Lou,

On BNSF on Tehachapi, I've seen DC mostly. AC is kinda rare around here, but those that do make it are mixed in. Also, through Spokane I've seen them mixed.

Grain trains over the Loop tend to drift towards solid BNSF 5161's, trains with 90% Swoosh and some mixed BNSF/BN/ATSF cars and one with larger TILX leaser/ADM cars. When the 5161's were coming online, the mix was Swoosh, non Sw and mixed. The TILX trains started showing up later and are larger cars. Spokane/Pasco trains that I've seen have been all Sw/BNSF/BN.

Container traffic is really a mixed bag. UPS containers are really taking over hard. If your modeling the present, those trailers are going away kinda quick.

Another train traffic type you'll see is coal. Three types there. Utility trains run with matched cars. Tubs are mixed BN/BNSF. Hoppers with doors run a single type.

Have fun with traffic. On the loop BNSF runs somewhere around 15 different types of trains (cotton seed is one of my favorites). UP had 4 or 5 types.

Next time I go up to Spokane, I'll make better notes for you.
Art in Iowa
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