Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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Will the Northern Section of this railroad ever run again?

I was thinking about the railroads current status up to Willits, and i came across a question i'd like to ask, Is it even possible to repair the line up to Dos Rios? It seems like that section of track is still in good condition, it just needs a clean up, and maybe some new ties.
About the other tracks going north, just leave them until they are repaired, or until someone comes along, and fixes it for a tourist railroad. I know there is already a group trying to have a tourist railroad on the northern end, but I have heard nothing from it yet, it seems like no progress has happened, I may be wrong on that. I know a few of you are probably going to ask why this railroad should be repaired, I would like to see some freight trains moving up and down the line once again, like they did before FRA shut the line down for good.  I also feel that it would help put some business back Eureka and the cities surrounding it, that area seems kind of dead, and run down. Also, is the balloon track turn table still there?

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I do agree with you on this Bob, NWP would be making more money hauling double stacked cars, over single stacked ones, if the line were still running up north. I can't help but wonder why they have allowed the track to get this bad, and they have done nothing about it. I know NCRA is barely getting any money from the state, but I feel that the line needs to be repaired before it is too late, and all memories of the once thriving railroad fade away into the past. Also, when will Humboldt finally do that tourist railroad they have wanted to do? 
It might be months, or even years before the entire line is repaired, but I am not giving up on this railroad.

Bob, while I do agree with your statements on the poor understanding of railroad economics on this site, I must say something regarding the west coast port situation. The truth of the matter is that our ports on the west coast are nowhere near capacity at the present time. Take it from someone who deals with this kind of stuff everyday at work, marine traffic is way below the levels from even a couple years ago. The Port of Oakland just lost one of its biggest tenants, and UP runs about half as many trains to/from the Port of Oakland as it did this time last year. We at BNSF haven't quite taken as big of a hit as they have, but the drop off is still very much noticeable. We have tons of TY&E employees furloughed, and I hear it's even worse on the UP side. Traffic goes to Mexico because it's cheaper, not because we can't handle it. You can bet the improvements being made to the Panama Canal are only going to make matters worse than they already are.

That said, yes you are correct that loose car traffic is all but dead these days. Most products formerly shipped in boxcars are now loaded into a truck and sent to an intermodal yard for rail transport, if the distance to be traveled even warrants rail transport at all. Any railroad these days (with the exception of smaller short lines) needs bulk commodities and/or intermodal traffic to survive.

Jordan, thanks for the update!  What do I know?  It's amazing how fast times change.  My information wasn't anywhere near a current as your own.  I hadn't heard about a drop in traffic at the container terminals.  That certainly doesn't bode well for the Port of Humboldt, does it?  It was a sad and tragic time when the lumber industry in the area collapsed, devastating the local economy.  Unfortunately, nothing has replaced it.  I suppose it's too much to hope that some big Asian car company would build a plant there.  I guess the only industry they have left in the upper left corner of the state are prisons.

Thanks for the info Jordan, that is good information to know, you know a bit more than I do.

I agree Richard, I feel that NRCA needs to raise money somehow, like maybe do a fundraiser, or something like that. I think it would help them a bit, and they could start repairing the line southward from Eureka.

That would have to be one heck of a big fundraiser!  They need about $500M to rebuild the line to the coast last I heard.  Maybe Jerry Lewis can do a telethon?

Actually I think John Williams has the right approach to this. Build from the south and get customers as you go. Healdsburg you will get 3-4 customers and cloverdale a couple more. You don't build a house from the roof down you build it from the bottom up. That seems to be what they are doing. Solidify the southern end. Build the revenue and go north. I still think they need more customers using the Windsor transload before they go north to prove it will be worth it. Also at some point you will need multiple trains in a day and possibly night trains which will be impossible to go through novato. There is also no car storage on the line with smart operating. Another potential problem.

I have to agree with you Carl, I feel that SMART is taking up all of NWP's former tracks, and is against NWP operating there, not sure on that. Going south seems like a better idea than building down from the northern end, I think we do need quite a few more customers before the line is ready to go north. But what will happen if SMART gets there first? Will NWP still be able to operate?

I think there's a fair amount of car storage at the Burdell siding, but no matter.  it's easily accomplished if needed.  NWP Co. must be doing something right because it's still in business!

That said, I'm wondering whether the full scope of federal funding and subsidies has been tapped by NCRA and/or NWP Co. (NWP Co. is more likely to be doing so, I suspect.)  There is a fair amount of federal money for the improvement of short lines, which the feds realize are essential to a fully functioning national rail system, which they are charged with developing.  Somebody has to remind Congress that an effective and efficient rail system is as much a key element to national defense than $1,000 toilet seats in $50M fighter planes. (I'm just guessing at those numbers, but I'll stand by the fact that the US has given more in munitions to the locals fighting in Syria last year than it would have taken to restore the entire NWP ROW all the way to Eureka.)

I really don't think that freight traffic will be what opens up any route North to Willits and Eureka. I believe a population boom and the logistics of connecting people to San Francisco and points in between will be the motivation. This will mirror what happened with San Rafael. We ALL thought that flanged wheels on rails were completely out of the area and NEVER return. Well, looky there! If the population of the area explodes in number and then they want public transportation, I'm certain that expanding SMART will be factored into the equation.

Freight from Eureka south is a complete long shot and is very unlikely with how industry is developing in the area and rest of the USA.

However, you never know, if there is a reason for freight rail to return well beyond the current economics, it will return, and it will return quickly. Right now, there is not.

Chris

Consider my comments in the post above.  Even the line is restored, Amtrack may elect to retain feeder bus service out of Eureka because the traffic isn't likely to be there.  Heavy manufacturing isn't likely to set up shop in Eureka anytime soon for a variety of reasons, I agree.  However, 90% of the world's non-bulk cargo is shipped in intermodal containers.  (They come in 20, 40, and 53 foot configurations.)  A good-sized container ship can carry around 20,000 twenty-foot containers and takes about 10 to 12 hours to unload its containers into double-stack deep-well container flatcars.  Each flatcar can carry four 20 foot containers.  That's five thousand flatcars... in twelve hours.  Figuring 50 cars for the average manifest, that's a 100 trains.  You can do the rest of the math in your spare time!  

Actually I believe this is true because every year thousands of people go to the huboldt area for jobs. It amazes me that Amtrak has not looked into a train up that direction. Every day I have to explain to people that they have to take a bus from Martinez to arcata and they want to know why there isn't a train. Maybe working with smart the nwp will be able to open the line at least to willits.

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