Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fuel Surcharges Continue to Mystify

Progressive Railroading is reporting that CSX has increased its Fuel Surcharge for December '06 to 17.5%.

However, BNSF not only has a lower Fuel Surcharge of 13% for December '06, but has notified its customers that the same 13% surcharge will apply in January '07!

That 4.5% difference amounts to more than a 34% higher price that CSX customers are paying for fuel versus BNSF customers. OK, argue with the math if you will, but the matter here is the difference. OK, too, argue with the methods that each railroad uses to determine their Fuel Surcharges. Neither case made will diminish the fact that such a difference looks bad to customers, and looks like more ammunition for some zealot bureaucrat who might ultimately tackle this issue.


Fuel Surcharge: Still an Ugly Situation
Oil Prices, Railroad Profits, and Fuel Surcharges
Fuel Surcharge Tyranny

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Years prior to 2006, our family began to realize that Thanksgiving had become a holiday that had not nearly been affected as other holidays by commercialism. As I remember past Thanksgivings, I recall the joy and laughter shared by my Dad and his two brothers, laughter that began to teach me the importance of family. I recall being snowed in during another Thanksgiving, where my Mom's family were reacquainted in a memorable and wonderful way that would not have happened otherwise. There are other times, too, but it is only important to note on this post that Thanksgiving memories are there simply because the family was together.

I have always hoped that my efforts at work, no matter who was my employer, eventually contributed to making it easier for families to get together, at some time, somehow, somewhere. It doesn't matter to me exactly what that might look like. It doesn't matter whether someone's journey to be with family is made easier, or whether someone doesn't have to be called out away from their family for an emergency. What matters to me is that special time people can share together.

Here's hoping that you and yours have a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving together!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Evidence of Higher Track Material Pricing to Agencies

Earlier discussions here have noted the possibility. Now, it is happening.

In order to continue my anonymity, I must not divulge too many facts or names. But I can note that for the same track material, our quoted price has increased almost 30% in a matter of twelve months. The material was essentially the same, the customer was the same, only the price was different!

In another case, our bid to another customer rose over 50% for the same material. There was a greater difference in time, that increase came after a four year interval.

Why? Several reasons. Fuel costs, material costs (primarily because all of our suppliers' fuel costs have risen as well), and a higher "Contingency" factor have all contributed. The ability to add that contingency increase is due to how much more material the Class One Railroads are buying.

I mentioned in an earlier post that at the AREMA Conference, almost all suppliers spoke of how busy they are. One told me, "At this time last year, our quoted lead time to our customers was one week. Then it slipped to two weeks, then to two to four weeks. Now, we are at eight to ten weeks out!" This is just one indication of increased Class One Railroad track material purchasing.

The fact that fewer Transit and Commuter Rail Projects seem to be in the pipeline now may contribute to why many Agencies have not come to grips with this situation. However, I am hearing that some of the more "far-sighted and aware" Agencies are lining up committments for material now, even before their RFQ's go out. These Agencies will get their needed material, and at a reasonable cost. It will be interesting to see what happens to some of the others.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Year's "Game of the Century"

Of course, it's this year's edition of the Michigan - Ohio State game. No predictions here, but something of interest nonetheless.

I uncovered some old programs from previous games, and have posted three of them here. These speak to the times they were printed as well as to the game.

Nothing to say but typical art from the early twentieth century. But the clothing is clearly "thoroughly modern".

From 1930, the Art Deco influence is clear. Love the "G" in Michigan!

What can you say about the attitude of the Late Sixties? It's a pleasant afternoon in the park, and dropping chestnuts on the opposing player who is picking daisys is as serious as life could get.

Hopefully you found these interesting! You can see more here.