Intermodal question

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Intermodal question

Unread postby hoborich » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:30 pm

Do they keep intermodal cars together like a unit train? I'm puzzled why some intermodal trains have several or more empty well cars, in between cuts of loaded well cars. I also noticed on a couple railcams, that most all of the intermodals were either 130 or 131 cars long. Can someone shed some light on the loading of intermodal trains. Thanks.
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Re: Intermodal question

Unread postby Fred » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:54 am

No, they are not kept together like a unit train. Here in Detroit for example, the 2 outbound CSX intermodels that depart have several different blocks. The Q131 when I was building it had about 5 blocks for different places in Mexico while the Q150 (now Q151) left Detroit with blocks for Chicago, Ill., Norfolk, Va, Tallyrand, Florida, and I believe Syracuse, NY. The NS 21n leaves Detroit blocked for the BNSF in Chicago: Cicero block which was traffic for the Seattle area and the Corwith block which had the traffic for LA and Long beach. Also empty cars would be often in the train as well. This as you can see, differs from lets say a unit coal train which has just one destination so the train can be kept in tact. When I worked, Q150 went to Cleveland where it was broken up, now the Q151 goes to North Baltimore to be broken up.
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Re: Intermodal question

Unread postby hoborich » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:59 pm

Thanks for the info, and it helps. But why are there any empty well cars in the train?
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Re: Intermodal question

Unread postby M.D.Bentley » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:04 am

hoborich wrote:Thanks for the info, and it helps. But why are there any empty well cars in the train?

A couple of reasons come to mind. If a yard is overwhelmed with inbound trains, they will ship them out to other yards that have the space. The other is when the train gets to the next location, it is easier to have a empty placed to be loaded at the next stop ( pull in/load car/pull out) vs switching cars into & out of the train. The other is if a terminal is short of cars and puts out a call for empties.
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Re: Intermodal question

Unread postby hoborich » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:31 pm

Makes sense. The other night I saw an entire train of empty well cars, similar to a rack train, on the Chesterton Railcam. Thanks for all the replies.
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Re: Intermodal question

Unread postby MSchwiebert » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:16 pm

Sometimes the empties are moved to balance things out. Usually, loads are heavier going west to east than east to west, as a result NYC ports end up with more cars than they can load with boxes from ships from Europe.
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