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#1 CHamilton

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 01:02 PM

USPS OIG: Suitability of Rail Transportation Suggest It Is Time To Use Rail Once Again

Once upon a time, the United States Postal Service enjoyed a successful relationship with the nation’s railroads. The California State Railroad Museum Foundation reminds us of the once-speeding postal trains, rather than today’s trucks, where post office workers sorted letters during the trip. Moreover, they did so in “swaying cars filled with canvas bags and wooden pigeon holes.” That must have been fun.

Perhaps a change back to rail and train is once again a practical venture. Reasons to encourage rail integration were laid out in a recent report by the Postal Service’s Inspector General.

Bill McAllister for Stamp News and Coin World recently wrote on the new report, Suitability of Rail Transportation — New Jersey Network Distribution Center, and a dialog that followed.

The report supports the argument that, in this case, the New Jersey mail service could save about $10.8 million a year choosing to use rail instead of long-distance trucking. The information in IG’s report seems solid. However, arguments from postal management ensued. McAllister continued with some back-and-forth points, noting that it is budget numbers that “speak the loudest.”

 

 


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#2 Palmland

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 02:29 PM

When you see trailers/containers with Schneider and J.B. Hunt trucking on their sides but are moving on BNSF Transcon trains, you know there is something to the argument that rail vs long hauling trucking is no contest as to the most economical. You can be sure that if mail does return to the rails, you won't find them on the likes of the Southwest Chief. Rather it will be USPS trailers sitting next to those from FedEX and UPS on those hotshot intermodal trains.



#3 KmH

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 03:13 PM

I drove an over-the-road truck from 1997 to 2005.
 
I sometimes pulled trailers full of mail for the USPS.
One of those times was a short trip assignment of 250 or so miles from the St. Louis area to near Chicago.
 
I hooked my tractor up to the trailer I was assigned to pull and went to the back of the trailer to put their seal on the trailer doors.
I opened the trailer doors and looked in wanting to make sure the load was secured properly.
The trailer was empty.
 
So I went back to the USPS yard office to make sure I had the right trailer number.
They verified that that was indeed the trailer they wanted me to pull, and they verified they knew is was an empty trailer.
They said they didn't want to cancel the order, and I pulled the empty trailer to Chicago.
 
Upon arrival at the Chicago end when they told me to back up to the dock I said, "OK. But why? The trailer is empty."
That was news to them and they came outside, broke the seal, opened the doors and were as astonished as I had been back at the start of the trip.
 
In the summer I am the Docent for the historic Edel Blacksmith Shop in Haverhill, IA.
Haverhill, IA (and a lot of other small towns) came to be because the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (The Milwaukee Road) built a depot there.

During the time the blacksmith shop operated (1883 to 1940) the USPS used mail cars on the railroads to sort and distribute a lot of the mail in the US.

 

The USPS stopped using the railroads as the Interstate Highway System was built in the late '50s early 60's and as they started using mail sorting machines at processing and distribution centers.

Up to that point the USPS helped pay for non-profitable long distance passenger trains. 


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#4 the_traveler

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 04:55 PM

I would mind sharing the SWC with the USPS. After all, TPS shares a bedroom wall with USPS - and my other home also does!:P
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#5 MikefromCrete

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 06:16 PM

any mail would be moved in high priority container freight trains, not on Amtrak LD trains. 



#6 the_traveler

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 09:31 PM

Not this male!:P
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#7 neroden

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 10:43 PM

Taking the mail off the trains was an incredibly short-sighted decision by mismanagement at the Postal Service.  They did this *after* UPS and FedEx were already starting to put large volumes of parcel traffic onto the rails.


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#8 Guest_Clifford C. Clavin, Jr_*

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 03:14 AM

 

Taking the mail off the trains was an incredibly short-sighted decision by mismanagement at the Postal Service

 

 

The information in IG’s report seems solid. However, arguments from postal management ensued.

 

Yep.

 

Some things NEVER change.



#9 VentureForth

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 08:08 AM

This could happen - but perhaps only for first class mail.  I can't imagine iPads, laptops, etc., handling mail hooks out of RPOs very well!  :o

 

Really just kidding about that.  But if they don't include parcels, they should probably not have to worry about the Railroads crying foul on unfair competition.


Edited by VentureForth, 19 January 2015 - 08:09 AM.

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#10 philabos

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 05:40 PM

The IG has been proposing this for years. The USPS will just continue to ignore the recommendation.

#11 StriderGDM

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 08:56 PM

This could happen - but perhaps only for first class mail.  I can't imagine iPads, laptops, etc., handling mail hooks out of RPOs very well!  :o

 

Really just kidding about that.  But if they don't include parcels, they should probably not have to worry about the Railroads crying foul on unfair competition.

I suspect in this case the government would have a strong argument based on the Postal powers in the Constitution.



#12 FriskyFL

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 09:47 AM

What about femail?

#13 andersone

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 11:36 AM

I seem to remember a mail car on the Pioneer Zephyr at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry,,, complete with donkey?


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#14 OlympianHiawatha

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 11:38 AM

 complete with donkey?

 

That is Zephyrus the Talking Mule.  He tells visitors all about it.

 

UPDATE - It is a donkey and not a mule and it looks like since I was last there in 2000 his name has been shortened to Zeph, maybe because that is easier to say.  He is an animatronic that "lives" in a crate in the Baggage area.


Edited by OlympianHiawatha, 20 January 2015 - 07:41 PM.


#15 dlagrua

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 07:07 PM

Fed X and UPS  have taken full advantage of rail transportation of their tractor trailers by rail. It is mind boggling why the USPS has not followed suit. The USPS loses billions each year and they have no worries about cost savings????



#16 Ispolkom

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 10:33 PM

This site claims, "Although Amtrak stopped carrying mail in October 2004, the nation’s freight railroads continue to carry mail through their intermodal service." 

 

I'm thinking some posters here are confusing railroads carrying mail with RPOs, which were an antiquated and expensive service when they were sensibly terminated in the 60s.  It could well be that a New Jersey distribution center could benefit from using the Northeast Corridor, but the IG's report sounds a lot like any number of consultant reports I've read, written by highly paid outsiders who didn't know much about what they were writing about.


Edited by Ispolkom, 20 January 2015 - 10:35 PM.


#17 StriderGDM

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 11:23 PM

I think we're past the point of being able to viably use passenger trains to handle 1st class mail any more.

 

In most cases the postal facilities are no longer near the train stations they'd need to be near.

 

If there's a market for it, NYC-WAS would be it, and I don't see it happening. (Though, honestly, mail pickup by 11:00, put on a Noon Acela, in DC by 4, delivered by 6... who knows... maybe..)



#18 Bradenmeridian

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 11:26 PM

I seem to recall that Amtrak did try a mail contract with USPS not that long ago but it hurt rail travel significantly because the way mail is handled now, separate container type cars full of already sorted mail needed to be added to the consist and trains were actually delayed waiting for these mail cars to be added and taken off.



#19 StriderGDM

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 11:37 PM

I seem to recall that Amtrak did try a mail contract with USPS not that long ago but it hurt rail travel significantly because the way mail is handled now, separate container type cars full of already sorted mail needed to be added to the consist and trains were actually delayed waiting for these mail cars to be added and taken off.

 

That wasn't mail specific, but basically fast package express and yes, it was a disaster.  Albany was a point where they added such cars to the LSL.



#20 VentureForth

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 07:36 AM

I'm thinking some posters here are confusing railroads carrying mail with RPOs, which were an antiquated and expensive service when they were sensibly terminated in the 60s.


As for my previous post, it was a direct satirical hit on RPOs - and how the IG's report is just about as antiquated as the RPOs themselves.

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Also Ridden: Carolinian, Crescent, Pacific Surfliner, Piedmont, Southwest Chief, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Texas Eagle





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