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Modern Short Lines motive power paint jobs.


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It’s based on revenue. They can be entirely private, they are sometimes “spun off” from the major class 1 railroads, as being smaller they will different requirements for levels of manning, etc. - sometimes as local switching/freight/terminal operations. Some states support these operations by buying the track bed and leasing the operations. Nothing equivalent.

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1 hour ago, Regularity said:

It’s based on revenue. They can be entirely private, they are sometimes “spun off” from the major class 1 railroads, as being smaller they will different requirements for levels of manning, etc. - sometimes as local switching/freight/terminal operations. Some states support these operations by buying the track bed and leasing the operations. Nothing equivalent.

 

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There's no real equivalent here in the UK. Some 'short' lines can be 100s of miles long!

 

Thanks for the info.  I'll admit to not knowing a lot about US railroading, and whilst the sight of mega-freights with half a dozen locomotives winding through the deserts doesn't really work for me, I'm feeling more and more drawn towards shortlines, with their pensioned-off 'classic' diesels, and more manageable (from a modelling point of view)  length trains.  Are there any resources I could be pointed towards for further research, any good books on the subject that would be worth a look please?

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The US Government Surface Transportation Board (STB) classifies the railroads in the US by size into the categories of Class I, Class II, and Class III (aka short line).

 

An overview can be found on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railroad_classes

 

Wikipedia also has a list of short line railroads by state - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortline_railroad

 

Similar list for Canada - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_railways

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ben B said:

Are there any resources I could be pointed towards for further research,

Google?

I learned a lot from early issues of (Scale) Model Trains. 

Google will turn up plenty of books, but you might need to be more specific about era and area. As it stands, your question is akin to someone asking for a book about pre-grouping railways of the UK, without anything to help narrow the search.

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5 hours ago, Ben B said:

 

 

Thanks for the info.  I'll admit to not knowing a lot about US railroading, and whilst the sight of mega-freights with half a dozen locomotives winding through the deserts doesn't really work for me, I'm feeling more and more drawn towards shortlines, with their pensioned-off 'classic' diesels, and more manageable (from a modelling point of view)  length trains.  Are there any resources I could be pointed towards for further research, any good books on the subject that would be worth a look please?

Watching Virtual Railfan railcams is a good way of seeing what is really happening around the US. The Strasberg Railroad is a shortline that runs commercial freight and heritage steam passenger services and has a VRF camera at both ends of the line. Watching it prompted me to start building my 8ft by 1ft Harbledown Railroad Heritage Line which uses Milwaukee Road, SOO Line, Santa Fe and Wisconsin Central locos which the shortline are supposed to have obtained for their services. The VRF cam at Fort Madison is very entertaining with the Mississippi River bridge adding to the railroad entertainment and the chat can be very informative.

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions- I realise in hindsight it was a big ask given the scale of operations in the US!  I'm struggling to fit in modelling everything on my list at the moment, but I think a bit of research in the background on the subject of US shortlines will be a nice break away from the more usual stuff, and who knows, might result in a layout at some point.  Cheers everyone :)

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I think, as a point of reference, the nearest UK equivalent might be the Derwent Valley Light Railway, but a few other light railways might also be comparable, save for the fact that generally speaking, they shut down well before the diesel age got going over here!

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1 hour ago, Ben B said:

Thanks everyone for the suggestions- I realise in hindsight it was a big ask given the scale of operations in the US!  I'm struggling to fit in modelling everything on my list at the moment, but I think a bit of research in the background on the subject of US shortlines will be a nice break away from the more usual stuff, and who knows, might result in a layout at some point.  Cheers everyone :)

Bear in mind there are about 550 Short Lines in the USA, although some are part of conglomerates such as Genesee & Wyoming. There is plenty of scope to invent your own model 'freelance' Short Line with it's own name & livery, as that's pretty much what real Short Lines are!

As Simon (a.k.a Regularity) says, the closest UK equivalent would have been the independant Light Railways of old. 

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4 hours ago, z4driver said:

Youtube is an excellent source

 

Agreed.

Using "shortline" and state/area of choice.

 

As mentioned before the Delay In Block videos are a great starting point. They are also great for consist ideas.

 

As for liveries - I still have to come up with one for my own fictional shortline.

I've screenshotted a few videos and other pics from rrpictureacrchives.net for ideas and printed off a few outline drawings from trainiax.net.

When I find time, I shall sit down with a few coloured pencils!

 

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I find it interesting that many short lines have quite fancy colour schemes. Most short lines are created because the big companies can’t make (enough?) money on them so smaller organizations take them on, presuming they can cut running costs and so be profitable. But then they go and spend significant amounts decorating their engines. 
 

There are exceptions, of course. Plenty of them operate with patched, nth-hand engines in a variety of previous owners’ colours. Also companies like Genesee and Wyoming, referred to above, are big enough in total, and their lines are so geographically widespread that a common image is probably justified and desirable for recognition and marketing. 
 

But why do others, if they feel they need a common image, not go for a ‘dip’ scheme? Some class 1s did that in the past (Mopac blue, MKT red etc.) to save money, and present day Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern (as examples) aren’t exactly ornate.

 

But, then, they wouldn’t be as attractive to model, would they?

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Something I find curious is that the idea of creating your own freelance, fictional Railroad company is well known & accepted in the USA, and over here it is also accepted in Light Railway & narrow gauge circles.

But despite the modern, Privatised railway in the UK now, no one invents their own freelance 'mainline' Company for a model. There are plenty of layouts of fictional locations, or "might have beens", but actual locos & rolling stock have to slavishly copy the prototype, or have ridicule & scorn poured upon them. I just find it curious and another evidence of the difference in mindset between UK & US modellers. :scratchhead:  :dontknow:

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10 hours ago, pH said:

I find it interesting that many short lines have quite fancy colour schemes. Most short lines are created because the big companies can’t make (enough?) money on them so smaller organizations take them on, presuming they can cut running costs and so be profitable. But then they go and spend significant amounts decorating their engines. 

It’s like many industries: when geared up for the big business (in this case long-distance and bulk-haul), money is made by doing this in volume, but the costs increase: some costs - number of freight cars, locos - will be relative to the volume of business, but other costs, such as maintaining track, are determined by other factors such as axle load, speed, etc. A short line will also have reduced crewing levels.

There are, or have been, short lines with just a couple of employees, who may have other jobs on days when there is no traffic, such as RoW maintenance, equipment repairs, and painting the loco may be an act of local pride. As an example, the North Stratford RR was originally part of the MEC’s line into Quebec via New Hampshire, and ran its service two days a week: switch the loaded cars at the Ethan Allen plant in Beecher Falls, and put empties into their place on a Wednesday, then trip down to North Stratford on Thursday, returning with empties. Any other traffic, e.g. the Agway feed store at North Conway, would be switched on this turn. This took up a full working shift, hence the switching the day before. Boxcars were required for loading during the working day for all of the working week, so empties were switched in as soon as possible. To avoid per diem charges, the NSRR had a fleet of 40’ boxcars, allocated to this service, which could appear all over the USA and Canada. Two engines: a 44 tonner and an Alco S1: the latter more powerful, but the 44 tonner was kinder to the lightweight track. A plough, and a handful of MoW cars, plus a single stall engine house (for the S1 in the winter - 44 tonners have heaters to stop the engine freezing up) and a turntable for the single-ended snow plow.

Most of that lot was ex-MEC, but repainted.

More info here and here.

Pictures here.

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On 22/04/2021 at 12:12, Ben B said:

Are there any resources I could be pointed towards for further research, any good books on the subject that would be worth a look please?

Railroad Picture Archive is pretty good and categorised roads into shortline, regional etc http://www.rrpicturearchives.net

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There is a Shortline Railroads Facebook group with daily action & many line & area specific groups, lots of live video as well as archive material. A big community. I don’t like Fb much but it’s where to go.

 

Dava

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As has already been said Delay in Block on YouTube is well worth checking out for short line coverage. I've been spending far too much time trawling through it recently. Without it I'd never have discovered gems like  the Napoleon Defiance & Western (I defy anyone to model that track) or the Blue Ridge Southern.  Plenty of inspiration for my own short line ideas.

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, PatC said:

 

 

As has already been said Delay in Block on YouTube is well worth checking out for short line coverage. I've been spending far too much time trawling through it recently. Without it I'd never have discovered gems like  the Napoleon Defiance & Western (I defy anyone to model that track) or the Blue Ridge Southern.  Plenty of inspiration for my own short line ideas.

 

 

 

If any of us managed to model that ND&W track we would spend a lot of time picking up our models and putting them back on the track! Looking at how the loco reacts to the track I suspect the track is made to look a lot worse than it really is by the camera. 

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52 minutes ago, PatC said:

(I defy anyone to model that track)

Well I've done my best....

 

33 minutes ago, Chris116 said:

If any of us managed to model that ND&W track we would spend a lot of time picking up our models and putting them back on the track!

My track, whilst not quite so rough, is still very reliable:-

 

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3 hours ago, F-UnitMad said:

Well I've done my best....

 

 

 

I take it all back. That is very impressive. I suppose the weight of stuff in O makes it more of a practical proposition than it would be in HO but that looks very good. I like obscure railways of all types, British light railways being another favourite subject,  and I've often wondered if it would be possible to recreate the rundown track of some of those and still be able to actually run anything.

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On 22/04/2021 at 04:37, Regularity said:

It’s based on revenue. They can be entirely private, they are sometimes “spun off” from the major class 1 railroads, as being smaller they will different requirements for levels of manning, etc. - sometimes as local switching/freight/terminal operations. Some states support these operations by buying the track bed and leasing the operations. Nothing equivalent.

 

Railroads in the US are classed by revenue.  1992 thresholds were:

  • Class 1 :  Greater than $250 M revenue
  • Class 2 :   $20-250 M revenue
  • Class 3 :  Less than $20 M revenue

In addition there are other terms used by the AAR that describe railroad sizes :

  • Class 1 :  Large line haul railroads
  • Regional :  350 miles long and $40 million revenue
  • Local :  Smaller than regional an engaged in line haul
  • Switching and terminal :  Provide services in one smaller area and don't have line haul service.

Historically, short lines were just that, independent railroads that were shorter in length.  Most large railroads are aggregations of smaller railroads merged into one.  However there were smaller railroads that have remained independent as small standalone railroads.  Then in the 1980's after changes in legislation made it easier for large railroads to abandon or sell off less used or unprofitable pieces of their railroads, the "modern" short line was born.  They are a section of a larger railroad that may not ever been an independent railroad, they could be a branch or a portion of a through line. 

 

A railroad that was an independent small railroad will probably have more infrastructure in the way of yards, terminal facilities, car repair facilities and engine maintenance facilities.  A short line that was a spin off from a class 1 might not have any of those facilities, no yard, no terminal, no car repair and no engine servicing and repair facilities.  Eventually the more successful and entrepreneurial short lines started buying up other short lines and became holding and operating companies for groups of short lines.

 

Many short lines are non-union, hiring workers that can fulfill many roles (they can be engineer, conductor, and trackman)  or may work several short lines  M-W-F they work one short line, T-Th-S they work another.

 

The spin off short lines have contracts with the former railroads where the Class 1's supplies cars for loading (if general service cars are used) and define the division of revenue.  There may also  be prohibitions from the short line connecting to, or interchanging with, another class 1 railroad.  The short line might not get a division of the revenue and might only get a switching fee for handling the car.

 

Edited by dave1905
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4 hours ago, PatC said:

 

I take it all back. That is very impressive. I suppose the weight of stuff in O makes it more of a practical proposition than it would be in HO but that looks very good. I like obscure railways of all types, British light railways being another favourite subject,  and I've often wondered if it would be possible to recreate the rundown track of some of those and still be able to actually run anything.

The fact it's 4-axle diesels (& the short Plymouths), and the freight cars are all on trucks (bogies) helps a great deal, as indeed it does on the real thing. My 6-axle SD40 can't negotiate the worst of that section, as the axles are rigid in the trucks, and the middle axle causes the other axles to lift clear of the rails, with the inevitable consequences.

For a UK Outline model with steam locos & 4-wheel stock, they really would need fitting with springing/compensation to cope with rough track.

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Unlike the UK, all(?) Class 1 RRs have to offer shippers services for their products.  So you get the unit train - hoppers, tank cars, autoracks and the manifest freights, the ones we prefer, with the great mix of freight cars.  Without manifest freights I think there would be far less shortlines.

 

Jaw Tooth's another laid back, video enthusiast:

 

My layout plan is a U-shape in the garage next and maybe a hole in the wall out into the garden next.  Modelling a shortline lets me upgrade the fiddle yard at the end of one of the U's legs to a small interchange yard, with more switching needed, for northbound/southbound and a third track for inbound.

 

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