9.5.16

THE GREAT LAKES BASIN RAILROAD IS A PROFOUNDLY UNSERIOUS PROJECT.

Chicago's Fox 32 goes to Kankakee County to interview the farmers who don't want their farms divided by the railroad.

It's the promoters of the railroad, however, who are going to sink the project.
The proposed rail line is called Great Lakes Basin Railroad. It would run almost 250 miles from Northwest Indiana to Southwest Wisconsin, bypassing Chicago. It's the brainchild of Chicago businessman Frank Patton, who ran a successful software company, learned a lot about networks and says he's applying that to railroads.

“We take the traffic that's going through the city, that doesn't have to go into the city. It goes around,” Patton said.
On computer networks, Microsoft doesn't have to worry about short-hauling itself whenever an application not written in Renton runs on a platform running a Windows version, or a platform for which the builder has paid a site license, even if there's nothing Microsoft running on it.

Traffic that goes around the city on a different railroad means the originating carrier and the terminating carrier loses on the division of the revenue.  And the one railroad that enters Chicago from all four cardinal compass points already has its way around Chicago and will continue to use it, wishful thinking in Barrington and Naperville notwithstanding.

Keep reading.  The wishful thinking gets better.
Patton is offering $20,000 an acre for farmers willing to sell. Plus, farmers willing to put a rail spur on their property, he says, would have access to local rail service. He admits, though, some people might have to get used to seeing trains outside their kitchen windows.
Let's see if I understand this. The advantage of the Great Lakes Basin project, if there is any, is in offering the trunk line railroads an opportunity to move trains from originating carrier to forwarding carrier so expeditiously that a North Platte - Elkhart or Galesburg - Willard routing in which Great Lakes gets a division of the revenue beats the traditional handoff somewhere in Chicago.  And yet those cross-country blocks of cars -- railroading's proper wholesale function -- is going to coexist with retail railroading, in which a Great Lakes local freight sets out a car of binder twine here and tractor tires there exactly as was the case in the Age of Steam?  The mind boggles.

2 comments:

We the People, Dane County said...

Very good post and well written. Are you along the line? A group of citizens have published a 16 page newspaper exclusively devoted to this fiasco. Here are links to the "final" pdf files that went to the printer last week in case you have not seen the paper. Contact information for the publisher, editor, and distribution manager are on page 2 so please follow up with the people that created as you have good information to share:

http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page1final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page2final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page3final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page4final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page5final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page6final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page7final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page8final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page9final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page10final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page11final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page12final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page13final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page14final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page15final.pdf
http://breitlinks.com/glbt/page16final.pdf

Stephen Karlson said...

I may check out your position paper over the long weekend. I live about 15 miles east of the proposed railroad, and about two miles south of the abandoned right of way of a previous attempt (parts of which were abandoned before World War II) by a western railroad to bypass Chicago.

The objections I raise are from the point of view of a railroad operator. I'm not one myself but I've worked with some rail professionals on various projects, and I have yet to encounter anyone willing to make a case for Great Lakes as a business proposition.

I've got contact information at the Surface Transportation Board and must weigh in on the dubious transportation merits of this project ... that's distinct from the now closed environmental scoping comments.