The Future?

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MIGN-Todd
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The Future?

Unread post by MIGN-Todd »

Kind of curious as to what people on here might think will happen with our Michigan short line and regional railroads in the future. I think within the next ten years GLC and AA will come together. Preferably with GLC at the helm but, more likely Watco buying them. Lake State will indeed GROW more but where they'll expand to is difficult to place. They're becoming a powerhouse it seems. Their paint scheme is awesome IMHO.
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Saturnalia
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by Saturnalia »

I think a lot of the picture depends on where new development is. Right now, companies are building up in a respectable fashion right in LSRC's service area - and kudos to them for catering to their needs and being there to offer cost-effective and customer-focused service.

I think we are done seeing Class One retreats from the state. I do not foresee CSX forking over the PM mainline to anybody not named Canadian Pacific, because it has been boiled down to where they can easily handle the online traffic and soak up all of the fruits of the Class Three labor. I suppose NS could kick the Michigan Line franchise to Watco or something, but I kinda doubt it because all they have to do is operate the trains, none of the costly maintenance stuff.

I for one would like to see some growth in the Upper Peninsula. The restart of service to UP Paper in Manistique and the Eagle Mine are the only real wins from the last decade. It would be nice to see some new activity, be it mining or forestry related.

I do not foresee any abandonment in Michigan aside from the odd industrial spur here or there. Railroading in general in the state is pretty healthy. Worth giving a nod to the MDOT Office of Rail for all of their work supporting the network. We're one of the few states to really reach out and try to do some things to help the industry, particularly for short lines and grade crossing safety.
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Pixl
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by Pixl »

I have no complaints of GLC but it would be fun to see "AA" on the side of the loco's up here again.
MIGN-Todd wrote: I think within the next ten years GLC and AA will come together. Preferably with GLC at the helm but, more likely Watco buying them. Their paint scheme is awesome IMHO.

1TrackMind
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by 1TrackMind »

I see the G&W possibly pulling out of Michigan. With LSRC putting the squeeze on the Huron and Eastern, the only real power house they have is the Marquette Rail. G&W could sell its properties and invest somewhere else.

If CSX sells its line to CP, i could see NS selling the Wabash line to since CP runs more trains on it than NS does.

I could see NS selling the Michigan line someday. They keep cutting back, with the most recent being the redirecting of Traffic from Elkhart to Wayne to get to Jackson. B33 now only goes as far as Battle Creek.

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Re: The Future?

Unread post by Jim_c »

Saturnalia wrote:I think a lot of the picture depends on where new development is. Right now, companies are building up in a respectable fashion right in LSRC's service area - and kudos to them for catering to their needs and being there to offer cost-effective and customer-focused service.

I think we are done seeing Class One retreats from the state. I do not foresee CSX forking over the PM mainline to anybody not named Canadian Pacific, because it has been boiled down to where they can easily handle the online traffic and soak up all of the fruits of the Class Three labor. I suppose NS could kick the Michigan Line franchise to Watco or something, but I kinda doubt it because all they have to do is operate the trains, none of the costly maintenance stuff.

I for one would like to see some growth in the Upper Peninsula. The restart of service to UP Paper in Manistique and the Eagle Mine are the only real wins from the last decade. It would be nice to see some new activity, be it mining or forestry related.

I do not foresee any abandonment in Michigan aside from the odd industrial spur here or there. Railroading in general in the state is pretty healthy. Worth giving a nod to the MDOT Office of Rail for all of their work supporting the network. We're one of the few states to really reach out and try to do some things to help the industry, particularly for short lines and grade crossing safety.
If the SynSel plant in Ontonagon gets going it it expected to kick-start some rail operations up there. Have to run the line back to Ontonagon, however. I know they want to have the Bergland to Sidnaw section rebuilt, and the CN to wake up the section from Bergland west. Be nice to see, not sure if everyone is on board. The CN segment is in pretty rough shape I hear. Plus the Native Americans had concerns when they were hauling stuff out of White Pine.
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by chapmaja »

I tend to disagree on the idea of HESR pulling out. The reason is competition.

Right now there are three Class 1 railroads that have the long haul for traffic from north and central Michigan, CSX, CN, and Norfolk Southern. NS doesn't have the direct access to the Thumb region that CN and CSX have via their connections with LSRC.

Customers always want options. Having LSRC as the only option and thus only outlet for traffic can be concerning to the customers. Even though it is not a direct connection, having NS (via the AA, GLC, HESR or MMRR) serves as an alternative to the use of the LSRC for the outflow of traffic.

If, and it is a big if, G&W were to sell off the lines in Michigan, I think you would see a big push from the GLC or WATCO to take over the line.

I think it would be interesting to see the GLC and the AA merge back into one railroad then purchase the HESR lines. It would provide competition in the thumb region, and would greatly expand the footprint of the AA / GLC. It would also allow NS to have access to the region with a single partner railroad rather than several of them, like is required today.

I know some traffic is going between the IORY and the HESR, but how much traffic is going between the lines via the AA and GLC?

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Re: The Future?

Unread post by HESR3868 »

In this situation, GLC wouldn't go after the HESR if HESR entered the situation of pulling out. Rather, a push for the MMRR as shuttle trains between the Soy Bean Plant in Ithaca and the 2 elevators on the MMRR would produce quite a bit of revenue and that's not adding the other businesses along the line that could grow in carloads. In my opinion, I would see LSRC taking the HESR as there's several strategic moves for operations and the thumb would be highly helpful to LSRC. As far as MQT, MS, and GRE go, they are in an area where anything can happen, so I really can't toss out my two sense there.

Keep in mind, that's the ginormous IF G&W sells Michigan.

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Re: The Future?

Unread post by arty flowers »

That would be pretty cool to see GLC going back to their original TSBY roots in the thumb and I agree with you that HESR has way too many important connections and customers to be abandoned anywhere in their system. The little guys are the ones that will get the boot first like GRE, Michigan Shore, and that other one. However I think that the Grand Elk will get the GRE along with the MSO. And the west Michigan railroad will get the other two former G&W lines. Marquette Rail will stay as is.

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Re: The Future?

Unread post by Saturnalia »

HESR3868 wrote:In this situation, GLC wouldn't go after the HESR if HESR entered the situation of pulling out. Rather, a push for the MMRR as shuttle trains between the Soy Bean Plant in Ithaca and the 2 elevators on the MMRR would produce quite a bit of revenue and that's not adding the other businesses along the line that could grow in carloads. In my opinion, I would see LSRC taking the HESR as there's several strategic moves for operations and the thumb would be highly helpful to LSRC. As far as MQT, MS, and GRE go, they are in an area where anything can happen, so I really can't toss out my two sense there.

Keep in mind, that's the ginormous IF G&W sells Michigan.
H&E is not going anywhere. It may go to a different owner, but I doubt if the STB would even give the green light to the Lake State taking that over on competitive grounds. Still plenty of traffic in that region to go after.

Honestly, I don't count any rail mileage in this State as in danger of abandonment, except for perhaps the odd spur here or there. Overall the system has a pretty nice balance to it and seems to work quite well for both the railroads and customers
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HESR3868
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by HESR3868 »

Saturnalia wrote: H&E is not going anywhere. It may go to a different owner, but I doubt if the STB would even give the green light to the Lake State taking that over on competitive grounds. Still plenty of traffic in that region to go after.
I thought we were doing a somewhat fictional thing here so I threw the common sense out of the window on what I said as far as HESR went (hence the multiple ifs too). Everything else said I still stand by. G&W upper management feels that certain lines here in the state are, "On Life Support" so I'm not sure they are prospering as some think. We'll see this harvest if things get any better as that's what these lines thrive on.

Also another note, HESR may not go anywhere, but the business is choosing a different route which is on the other side of the river :wink:
Hence the little to no Auburn Grain Trains and less Dow traffic for H&E.

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SD80MAC
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by SD80MAC »

IF, and that's a big IF, the LSRC got the HESR, the only lines I could see being in danger would be one of the lines to Midland and the old GTW between Saginaw and Durand. There is no online business between Saginaw and Durand, and LSRC already interchanges with CN in Flint. Would it be worth keeping an entire line in tact just to connect to CN in 2 spots, not even 20 miles apart? They would be able to interchange with GLC in Durand, which wouldn't afford much traffic other than whatever might come from NS via the AA.

Would 2 lines to Midland be needed? Freeland and Auburn both have grain elevators, but as far as I know Auburn is the only one that gets unit trains. The elevator in Freeland does loose car loads, if that anymore? Interesting thoughts to be sure.
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by Schteinkuh »

SD80MAC wrote:Would 2 lines to Midland be needed? Freeland and Auburn both have grain elevators, but as far as I know Auburn is the only one that gets unit trains. The elevator in Freeland does loose car loads, if that anymore? Interesting thoughts to be sure.
It's been quite a long time since I saw some cars spotted in Freeland
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by AARR »

I read a few years ago a large elevator was planned in/near Freeland that would load a handful of 90 car unit trains a year. The old elevator would still be used to load loose car loads. I take it both of those didn't happen?
Schteinkuh wrote:
SD80MAC wrote:Would 2 lines to Midland be needed? Freeland and Auburn both have grain elevators, but as far as I know Auburn is the only one that gets unit trains. The elevator in Freeland does loose car loads, if that anymore? Interesting thoughts to be sure.
It's been quite a long time since I saw some cars spotted in Freeland
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by MQT1223 »

1TrackMind wrote:I see the G&W possibly pulling out of Michigan. With LSRC putting the squeeze on the Huron and Eastern, the only real power house they have is the Marquette Rail. G&W could sell its properties and invest somewhere else.

If CSX sells its line to CP, i could see NS selling the Wabash line to since CP runs more trains on it than NS does.

I could see NS selling the Michigan line someday. They keep cutting back, with the most recent being the redirecting of Traffic from Elkhart to Wayne to get to Jackson. B33 now only goes as far as Battle Creek.
HESR right now IMHO is the big looser right now as far as I can tell. Lake State's acquisition of the rest of the Saginaw Sub to Wixom really sped up the rate loads can go north without the extra handling at CN. I'm excited and curious to see what Lake State will do.

G&W's sale to Brookfield makes me believe that G&W ops in the state are going to be significantly streamlined. MS, MMRR, HESR and GRE I believe are all on the chopping block eventually. MQT is the powerhouse for G&W here and with the way traffic has declined on some of those routes I don't see much happening. GRE focuses too heavily on King Milling for a larger company to consider that a safe asset if you ask me. Of course if the GTW from Owosso to Lowell was still in place G&W would have a totally different look in Michigan. What kills them is how much they have to work with CSX and CN just to go such a short distance.

One of the Big Class 1 mainlines could change hands, but I don't see Class 1's totally pulling out of Michigan or much changing how they currently sit. Likewise I don't see much change with GLC, I think they have their hands full as it is.

If any Watco Property would get bigger I'd see the Elk grow, I'm not familiar with the Annie to know how they are doing but the Elk is the poster child of Watco currently.

If any of these shortlines get sold, it would be neat to see a completely new operation start in their place.
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by chapmaja »

Saturnalia wrote:
HESR3868 wrote:In this situation, GLC wouldn't go after the HESR if HESR entered the situation of pulling out. Rather, a push for the MMRR as shuttle trains between the Soy Bean Plant in Ithaca and the 2 elevators on the MMRR would produce quite a bit of revenue and that's not adding the other businesses along the line that could grow in carloads. In my opinion, I would see LSRC taking the HESR as there's several strategic moves for operations and the thumb would be highly helpful to LSRC. As far as MQT, MS, and GRE go, they are in an area where anything can happen, so I really can't toss out my two sense there.

Keep in mind, that's the ginormous IF G&W sells Michigan.
H&E is not going anywhere. It may go to a different owner, but I doubt if the STB would even give the green light to the Lake State taking that over on competitive grounds. Still plenty of traffic in that region to go after.

Honestly, I don't count any rail mileage in this State as in danger of abandonment, except for perhaps the odd spur here or there. Overall the system has a pretty nice balance to it and seems to work quite well for both the railroads and customers

I completely agree. I don't see LSRC taking control of the lines in the thumb for that exact reason, competition. That is the same reason I don't see the line from Bay City to Durand ever being pulled up. If that line is pulled up then all rail from the thumb and the the northern part of the state is captive to the LSRC (or going MMRR to the GLC). I can't see the STB allowing the HESR to remove that line for that reason. Shippers would fight because it would force them over CSX or CN to access another Class 1. Currently all HESR traffic could run without haulage by the other Class 1's to a connection with NS (via the GLC/AA).

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Re: The Future?

Unread post by MQT1223 »

chapmaja wrote:
Saturnalia wrote:
HESR3868 wrote:In this situation, GLC wouldn't go after the HESR if HESR entered the situation of pulling out. Rather, a push for the MMRR as shuttle trains between the Soy Bean Plant in Ithaca and the 2 elevators on the MMRR would produce quite a bit of revenue and that's not adding the other businesses along the line that could grow in carloads. In my opinion, I would see LSRC taking the HESR as there's several strategic moves for operations and the thumb would be highly helpful to LSRC. As far as MQT, MS, and GRE go, they are in an area where anything can happen, so I really can't toss out my two sense there.

Keep in mind, that's the ginormous IF G&W sells Michigan.
H&E is not going anywhere. It may go to a different owner, but I doubt if the STB would even give the green light to the Lake State taking that over on competitive grounds. Still plenty of traffic in that region to go after.

Honestly, I don't count any rail mileage in this State as in danger of abandonment, except for perhaps the odd spur here or there. Overall the system has a pretty nice balance to it and seems to work quite well for both the railroads and customers

I completely agree. I don't see LSRC taking control of the lines in the thumb for that exact reason, competition. That is the same reason I don't see the line from Bay City to Durand ever being pulled up. If that line is pulled up then all rail from the thumb and the the northern part of the state is captive to the LSRC (or going MMRR to the GLC). I can't see the STB allowing the HESR to remove that line for that reason. Shippers would fight because it would force them over CSX or CN to access another Class 1. Currently all HESR traffic could run without haulage by the other Class 1's to a connection with NS (via the GLC/AA).
Could GLC pick that up? That would give them control of the GT into Owosso and direct access to Lake State in Bay City...
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by Schteinkuh »

MQT1223 wrote:G&W's sale to Brookfield makes me believe that G&W ops in the state are going to be significantly streamlined. MS, MMRR, HESR and GRE I believe are all on the chopping block eventually. MQT is the powerhouse for G&W here and with the way traffic has declined on some of those routes I don't see much happening. GRE focuses too heavily on King Milling for a larger company to consider that a safe asset if you ask me. Of course if the GTW from Owosso to Lowell was still in place G&W would have a totally different look in Michigan. What kills them is how much they have to work with CSX and CN just to go such a short distance.
Based off of how G&W has been running things, they're either all staying or all going. Bottom line of what I was told is that they won't sell the GRE unless they're going to sell MMRR MQT and MS with it. They're supposedly running them all as one railroad from a financial standpoint, a classic example of robbing Peter (MQT) to pay Paul (MMRR). So basically, most of the profits of the MQT goes into keeping the other shortlines alive is what I understand, sort of like what Brookfield has done with Pioneer. Not sure about HESR though, I never inquired about that.

Brookfield's reforms have already begun at the management level of G&W (less trainmasters must be the answer) and the eventual consequences of their changes isn't yet known.
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by HESR3868 »

Schteinkuh wrote:
MQT1223 wrote:G&W's sale to Brookfield makes me believe that G&W ops in the state are going to be significantly streamlined. MS, MMRR, HESR and GRE I believe are all on the chopping block eventually. MQT is the powerhouse for G&W here and with the way traffic has declined on some of those routes I don't see much happening. GRE focuses too heavily on King Milling for a larger company to consider that a safe asset if you ask me. Of course if the GTW from Owosso to Lowell was still in place G&W would have a totally different look in Michigan. What kills them is how much they have to work with CSX and CN just to go such a short distance.
Based off of how G&W has been running things, they're either all staying or all going. Bottom line of what I was told is that they won't sell the GRE unless they're going to sell MMRR MQT and MS with it. They're supposedly running them all as one railroad from a financial standpoint, a classic example of robbing Peter (MQT) to pay Paul (MMRR). So basically, most of the profits of the MQT goes into keeping the other shortlines alive is what I understand, sort of like what Brookfield has done with Pioneer. Not sure about HESR though, I never inquired about that.

Brookfield's reforms have already begun at the management level of G&W (less trainmasters must be the answer) and the eventual consequences of their changes isn't yet known.
As far as I know HESR does their own thing for profits since they fall under their own side by themselves. This was a few years ago, so now that all of these management changes have occured, I can't give a definitive answer

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Re: The Future?

Unread post by MQT1223 »

Schteinkuh wrote: Based off of how G&W has been running things, they're either all staying or all going. Bottom line of what I was told is that they won't sell the GRE unless they're going to sell MMRR MQT and MS with it. They're supposedly running them all as one railroad from a financial standpoint, a classic example of robbing Peter (MQT) to pay Paul (MMRR). So basically, most of the profits of the MQT goes into keeping the other shortlines alive is what I understand, sort of like what Brookfield has done with Pioneer. Not sure about HESR though, I never inquired about that.

Brookfield's reforms have already begun at the management level of G&W (less trainmasters must be the answer) and the eventual consequences of their changes isn't yet known.
Why must it be in a packaged deal? Is this going back to the RailAmerica Sale?
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Re: The Future?

Unread post by arty flowers »

This could be happening in the not so distant future, actually it will happen. And it starts in Kansas City at the Ford Claycomo Assembly Plant where Ford will start stamping in house and it ends at Oakwood Yard in Detroit. How will it end? Well this change will spell the demise of the final two NS roadrailers and maybe a westbound NS freight, 181? perhaps. Also CN is now interchanging its 385 traffic at Oakwood Yard because of the pandemic, the auto shutdown and the fact that going down the Annie costs CN at least $500K a year. After the pandemic ends it might be permanent and on one of the other fb groups, an NS employee said that are operating at least two pullers because they have the capacity at Oakwood. He went on to say that the pullers and 75 cars a day that the CN brings in will end with the startup of the inhouse stamping at Claycomo. If the CN doesn't go back to the Flat Rock-DIANN-Wagon Works routing then the IORY will the only railroad left to use the Flat Rock-DIANN portion who knows how it will affect things for the I&O.

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