Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Three Future Thoughts

The future isn't unknown, but how fast and well-lit
your way is will determine the surprises.
On this inaugural week, a lot of folks might wonder what the future holds. Personally, I feel that Optimism and Obama are two words that begin with O, have an M in the middle, and that's where the similarities end. On the other hand, as an unpaid outsider with a somewhat obsessive interest, if I were to look into the future of railroading in the USA, particularly the west, I'd say that:

  • Fuel and consumption will continue to impact other modes of transportation far more than railroads and, as a result, fuel prices will push greater demand toward the railroads, including shortlines, in a drive to control costs. The demand may exceed pre-Great Recession levels
  • Locomotive design will not focus on doing more with less so much as it will focus on doing the same with reliability, especially with Tier 4 approaching
  • Freight cars will continue to stretch as much as they can to haul as much as possible without snapping in two. Innovations such as the Trough Train weren't so misguided as they were mis-applied. A single, articulated car with two or three bogies in the middle could find a place in unit coal train use because it's principle of reducing tare weight and initial investment. Proving its reliability would be critical to its acceptance
Fortune cookie, anyone?◊

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