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Freight Help for Irma/Harvey?


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#1 VentureForth

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:25 AM

As I traversed I-95 over the last couple of days, I couldn't help but notice literally hundreds of electrical bucket trucks making their way down to Florida to restore power to electrically stricken parts of Florida.  Last weekend, I watched a military train as it transported nearly 100 tanks.  I can't help but wonder if there wouldn't be any benefit to transporting these bucket brigades by train - 200 at a time, with a couple of coaches and a diner tagged to the end to hold the crew.

 

Quite frankly, I don't know how far South the rail infrastructure is intact, but I know CSX has been operational at least South of Savannah.  These trucks aren't exactly economical to drive.  Why not conserve the fuel and let the diesels do the work?


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#2 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 11:26 AM

My uneducated guess is the following:

 

1. Freight is backed up already and fitting in additional might be problematic?

 

2. Difficulty of coordinating a central pickup point with the utilities from across the country (For instance, ComEd from the Chicago area is sending, iirc, several hundred volunteers to help restore power).

 

3. It might actually be quicker to drive from some areas with drivers taking shifts than via train.

 

4. Are there enough spare coaches (the big complaint for Amtrak anyway) and can they be moved quickly enough?

 

Feel free to disagree and correct as needed!


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#3 VentureForth

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:13 PM

I'm sure all those are valid reasons.  I would expect that with proper planning, there could be multiple staging areas, then the trains coupled together.  Just a matter of planning and dispatching.  I think there is plenty of equipment - private and/or Amtrak that could be gathered.  Especially from Chicago with some of the largest inventories of passenger cars out there.  They don't even have to be Amtrak. Metra bi-levels with toilets.  Maybe not the most comfortable, but could potentially be the most efficient.  It does come down to planning, though, and with that, planning would most likely take way more time than just driving.


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#4 jis

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:37 PM

I generally agree Venture Forth.

 

I think freight trains could be used at least in principle, only upto certain points beyond which the lines have been taken out of service in preparation for the storm. Pretty much all freight lines in Florida for example, were taken out of service a day or two before the actual arrival of the storm. Many of the out of state linemen and their trucks arrived in Florida pretty much the day of arrival of the storm or later, so there is a bit of a timing mismatch. The outside help tends to be sent as late as possible since these guys also do have a regular job in their home territory too. Actually it was quite unusual this time where 1600 outside trucks were staged at various points before the storm actually arrived. It was a challenge to figure out safe places to do so since the storm kept changing its course as time went on.

 

Now the logistics of working out staging plans between say folks from Massachusetts, Ontario and Ohio taking into account their home responsibilities and release schedules together with availability of rail transport from consolidated loading points may become interestingly complex. So who knows which way is more practical given the distributed nature of responsibilities, obligations and plans.?



#5 Bob Dylan

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:55 PM

The Military has Logistic Experts. Perhaps they can be "loaned" to Florida and Texas to help plan this massive undertaking!

We certainly don't want Politicians handling this job.( Can you believe 4 Texas Congress Critters actually voted Against aid for Texas for Harvey victims??😣)

Edited by Bob Dylan, 13 September 2017 - 01:59 PM.

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#6 jis

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:08 PM

Actually Florida did a remarkable job of handling the logistics and the evacuations this time even without any military experts. The politicians, even a few that I don't care about as far as their general philosophies go, did just fine - actually a remarkable job, thank you. I am not sure that adding the military into the mix would actually improve things or make things worse. It is the entire combination of the civilians, DHS and DoD working together that yields the best results.

 

In general I am loath to give over control to the military of anything that can be adequately handled by the civilians and politicians, as apparently is the case with this one.



#7 Bob Dylan

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 02:29 PM

Guess you trust Floridian pols more than we do the zealots, hacks and crooks we have in Texas!🤔😄😣
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#8 jis

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:36 PM

Guess you trust Floridian pols more than we do the zealots, hacks and crooks we have in Texas!

I just trust a military not supervised by civilians even less. I have seen repeatedly what can happen and it is ugly.


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#9 Bob Dylan

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:08 PM

I agree with your point, and come to think of it, with our current occupant ( temporary one hopes)of the White House surrounding himself with Generals, I don't trust any of them in Sodom on the Potomac!😥
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#10 cirdan

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 04:02 AM

I don't thnk the question of who is in charge of the military has much bearing on their ability to do small stuff on the ground, or to borrow their equipment for such ends.

 

If the military can move tanks by the trainload, then surely the tank carriers can also be used to move flood relief and repair vehicles by the trainload.

 

I assume the movement of tanks was just part of some exercise or reshuffling of equipment. So that could easily have been postponed and the train commandeered to move other stuff.

 

I don't really see a problem here. 

 

I think it's more a case of, if we drive this truck ourselves we are in full control of what's going on. In emergency scenarios where the situation and need on the ground can change by the minute, you need that sort of flexibility.



#11 jis

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 05:25 AM

I agree.


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#12 VentureForth

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:11 PM

I don't necessarily disagree with Cirdan. My thought, though, is the efficiencies of providing rest for the crew, saving thousands of gallons of gas, even if just to collect from multiple aareas and dropping off at, say, a staging ground like Jacksonville. Or Folkston if Jax is flooded. :)

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