Author Topic: Empty stack cars - where is "home"?  (Read 700 times)

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R L Smith

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Empty stack cars - where is "home"?
« on: October 01, 2013, 10:07:20 PM »
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I saw a somewhat unusual sight today - at least for me.  An extremely long train of empty container cars went by.  There were a couple of single cars behind the locomotives, but the rest were articulated sets - almost all 5-unit sets, and the majority of them were 40' cars with some 53' cars here and there. I saw quite a variety of car styles; most were lettered for DTTX with some BNSF and CSX cars at the rear.

So my question: Where is "home" for DTTX cars?  Why would such a long train of empties be gathered up?  Of course I have no idea where they will end up, but this train was headed in the direction of Rutherford Yard right outside of Harrisburg. I know that freight cars that are railroad-owned are supposed to be routed towards home rails when empty, but how are lease fleets such as tank cars and flats / containers dealt with?

Ron
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Bob Bufkin

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Re: Empty stack cars - where is "home"?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 10:58:37 PM »
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They were probably headed to a facility that needs them.  I've seen completely empty stack trains on CSX headed from Florida to East coast ports more than once.  I know it looks strange but they do have to move empties to get loaded when a facility is short or cars an expects lots of ships to arrive at any time.

Hyperion

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Re: Empty stack cars - where is "home"?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 09:41:21 AM »
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Moves like that aren't the most common things in the world, but not terribly rare either.  At BNSF we even give them their own symbol -- "B" trains, for "Bare Table"

Usually this happens on a full-train scale only when the cars are going into or out of storage or perhaps for some sort of program maintenance.  The economics on intermodal are very tight and pretty much requires loaded moves in both directions.  Moving empty trains around is a surefire way to remove any profit that one happens to be making.

As for how lease fleets are 'dealt with' when empty, it's really not any different than any other car because, odds are that someone is presently leasing it and it would go back to them just the same as a car that they actually owned outright.  If someone's not, it'll go back to the lessor, who usually has someplace designated to 'park' the cars somewhere and they'll arrange for it to be moved to that location and then pay per diem to whomever owns the track that the car is parked on.
-Mark

Denver Road Doug

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Re: Empty stack cars - where is "home"?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2013, 10:31:01 AM »
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Baretable trains are pretty common around here. (north Texas)   Right now the business is (hopefully?) on the upswing so they're pulling stored cars out from their "hiding spots" to use for the Christmas rush.
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jagged ben

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Re: Empty stack cars - where is "home"?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 10:57:20 AM »
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There's actually a regularly scheduled baretable on the BNSF out of Oakland, to Seattle I think.  Sometimes it has a few loads up front, often not.  It can be 100 or more wells.  Something about how they route traffic on the west coast, but I have not seen a fully loaded BNSF intermodal leaving Oakland since 2007.  (Not to say it never happens anymore.)  Seems like as far as the BNSF is concerned, containers mostly come in to Oakland to go to Asia, and come into other ports when coming to the US.  That means a lot of baretables leaving Oakland to go wherever those containers come in.

UP does bring containers in and out of Oakland.

lajmdlr

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Re: Empty stack cars - where is "home"?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2013, 02:25:18 PM »
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Those empty intermodal trains are also called "bare tables". They don't really get returned "home" except for maintenance. Have heard some RRs will run them all over their RR because they just don't have room to store them til needed. And a bare table can also have both TOFC & COFC cars. Also some well car sets are connected by drawbars not articulation.
Andy Jackson
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