Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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Feed and Grain good.....NWP.....in holding pattern.....

 

  It is great to see the NWP hauling many cars of feed and grain to Petaluma.  That is good.  The fact that no other prospects are currently active or aggressively seeking rail service... is not a good sign.  John Williams states that they are in for the 'Long Run', and that is... good news,..... although the red grows larger, and maintenance funds are not sitting in the bank waiting to be spent.  The railroad is also in the midst of fining companies that have compromised their right of way.  They are well within their rights to do this,...but doesn't it say something about the financial condition of the railroad itself?  We can only hope that the economy improves and that shippers can get some capital together so that they can construct some loading spurs or improve what is still available.  We can only guess what the NWP will look like two years from now, and how deeply entrenched they will be in the debt column.  I wish the NWP the best for the future.....Just telling it like it is.......

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I think we would all like to see more traffic, but it takes time.  The railroad has to build up a good reputation for companies to decide to invest in it.  Also, it takes time & money on the part of these businesses to build spurs. Companies usually have trucking contracts and cannot suddenly switch to rail. There is a lot of information we just don't know.  We do know that Mr. Williams is confident enough in future business to purchase the 2nd engine.  If you take a look at the NWP business plan, you will see that they are very close to projections for year 1. 

Also, it is NCRA, not NWP Co. that is raising costs of private crossings.  This is for the northern inactive portion of the line, and something they have been talking about for a while now.  Has nothing to do with NWP operations. If companies are illegally encroaching on NCRA property it would behoove them to stop it since this damage will make it more expensive to reopen the line in the future. 

At this point the NWP is doing a little better then expected. If you look at what NWPco said the original trains were going to be like, 5-7 cars, and now they're hauling 12 car trains every other trip, we're doing fine. These things take time, we're not going to win over customers overnight just by saying we're coming back. A major customer will be both Mead-Clark Lumber in SR, and the lumber company in Healdsburg whos name escapes my mind at this second. They are both heavily interested in the railroad, and MeadClark has begun a transloading operation in Windsor.
Mitch Stogner said that they way trains are running right now, all of the construction and operations costs will be paid in 2-3 years, and then more construction north can be built. They will not be in the debt column. The NWP is doing better then it was 5 years ago if you think about it.
More revenue is expected for the near future. They just purchased a near-brand new locomotive, they would not do that if they "were heading into the red"
Everyone needs to sit back and watch the NWP for a while. Trains have been running almost 8 months, not even a full year, so we cannot base all of our info on it right now.
We also need to forget all of the NWPs history and business stratages from the 90s, they cannot be applied here today.
Also, there are tons of companies looking into rail. They cannot just cancell their trucking contracts just like that, so they have to wait for them to time out. That's the major thing right now. I can name three wineries in Windsor alone that want to ship by rail, but they need the spur and for their contracts to go out. Just be patient, they way the NWP is rolling it won't be in the red, but just paying off debts.

1. NWP bought the genset because NCRA paid John Williams the some money that was owed to Williams, I think $1-3million that was owed for maintenance. The NWP pays $25,000 for leasing the line, while NCRA pays the NWP to maintain the line. The NCRA got behind in payments and John Williams finally got some money from them which he put to buying the genset, the leftover money he put in the bank to use later. 

2. John Williams is waiting to get Windsor to Schellville on financially stable ground first before going north, John Darling was focused on getting the Petaluma to Windsor section open the he let the Petaluma to Schellville section fall apart. 

 

   Thankyou Chad, and Mike, and Chris for your input.  Patience certainly is a virtue when it comes to railroads.  The NWP is rolling, and doing a good job getting cars in and out of Petaluma for the shipping customers.  The California Northern began the same way, with great service, and customer satisfaction....The big question that I have is.....where were all of these entities that are showing so much interest in the NWP, when the California Northern was showing so much promise.  I know that there were more outfits shipping railcars at that time, but the traffic growth never really materialized.  The California Northern was patient, but even with the traffic from the North Coast Railroad, they were not able to keep things rolling financially.  So my question here is......If you build the Ballpark, ...will the players show up?....Well,...your guess is as good as mine, ....and we all hope that Mr. Williams has a better business plan then the CFNR had back about fifteen years ago or so.  We all hope the NWP can be 'the little engine that could'.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed........

I think the economy is a big factor the NWP has going for it compared to Cal Northern. Back in the '90s companies could afford to pay more for faster shipping. Now with penny pinching becoming the norm and greater focus environmental concerns, rail is much more appealing.

 Thanks Jeff for the reply,....and you are right about the environmental concerns and penny pinching, however,.....companies are not apt to go to rail.....because it is so inefficient.....what I mean to say here is that a truck will take the cargo from doostep to doorstep.  Rail takes the cars from one junction to another....and waits for connecting trains.  At the terminal the cars then must be unloaded or spotted for the particular industry.  In todays world the most efficient way to transport goods is by container.....and unless the NWP gets into the container business...they will be behind the 8 ball.  The only way I see the NWP surviving is by establishing a rock business in the Eel basin, building a lumber reload in Willits, and building a container terminal in the Santa Rosa area.  If they do not do the aformentioned things......after SMART goes in, and after all of the ballast and materials have been hauled in by the NWP.....and that will keep them going for awhile.....their long term prospects for success are fairly terminal, ....aside from grain into the Petaluma area, and other light traffic to points north.......What they need is regular daily tonnage from the north, with pick-ups along the way south.....or East to West on the timetable.  Thankyou for your input.

They have been having some problems, but the County of Sonoma (And Marin Co is looking into this too) is looking to trasho points south and east, but they do not have the finances right now to build a place they can offload trash.

Companies that are in the same mindset as you JB must realize what Hunt and Barrens and Darymens are doing, their grain is coming from the midwest in bulk cars, and the are having 5, 6, or even 7 car trains.

Gravel will most likley never again come out of the Eel or Russian River Canyons due mostly to enviromentalists and local reglation. Zach might be able to comment here on the Eel, but I don't see it happneing in the Russian River.   

Like I said earlier JB, we need to sit this one out. Lets not jump and critisize or "point out" in the first 8 months.

SMART will not be coming for AT LEAST two years. BUT SMART will be one of the largest customers, requiring numerous tons of gravel and roadbed, as well as new track, ties, crossings, ect. SMART should give the NCRA/NWP a financial...boost, when they start construction, with all the loads.

The NWP is thriving now. There are plenty of places for them to expand, but it just takes time.

To be honest, we should all be happy the NWP is thriving now. They're making alot more money then they were 5 years ago. Even 10.

  Thankyou for the reply Chad....and I agree with you.....it is good to have the NWP back in service.  .....and yes, SMART will give the NWP plenty of business, but not the kind of business that will last.  Thankfully, the tracks will be kept up, and will be improved up to at least Cloverdale, but I don't see much traffic coming back to the rails, aside from a carloading here or there.  I believe that the best that the NWP can hope for is a 2 or 3 times a week local, setting out and picking up along the way.  If they can survive under that scenario, then that will be good enough, and who knows what the future holds.  With not much on the North end, it is likely that the old nickname NWP,.....to points NoWhere ImParticular might come in pretty handy.  The population base and industry gets pretty meek north of Sonoma County.  .....and as far as garbage trains are concerned......Napa tried it and failed, and I would suspect the same to happen over in Sonoma County......Shippers waiting on the NWP by the ton, might very well have to be rolled back to shippers by the pound.  Never-the-less, we are in it 'for the long run'.......and good luck to all concerns who enjoy having a railroad as part of our culture.

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