General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Some questions about railroads.

Asked by LostInParadise (25340points) March 17th, 2010

I am hoping there are some railroad buffs here.

I got to thinking about railroads after listening to CSX radio ads. So let me start by asking some questions about CSX.
Why have I not heard of them before?
How long have they been around?
Who are their ads intended for?

Some more general questions:
Do railroads own the tracks they run on?
Do they ever share stretches of track with other railroads?
Do railroads pay taxes on the land that the tracks go across?

In general, how much choice do companies have in selecting a railroad?

If a company wants freight shipped by rail, does the company have to work with both the railroad and the trucking companies that move freight to and from the railroad?

Direct rail access may not be so important now, but it must have been before automobiles. Have there been cases where cities would offer incentives for a railroad to build a depot near them?

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15 Answers

Response moderated
thriftymaid's avatar

A lot of people care about railroads and railroad history. I’m just not one of them.

charmander's avatar

@thriftymaid – Why do you need to trash railroads and their rich history? Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean other people don’t. Also, you should care, without railroads we would have lost the Civil War to the Germans, and everything would be communist.

thriftymaid's avatar

@charmander . We didn’t fight the Germans in the Civil War. I didn’t trash anything. I just am not a railroad history buff.

charmander's avatar

@thriftymaid – Clearly you’re not a civil war buff either. My dad fought in the war, I think I’d know a thing or two.

Response moderated
Trillian's avatar

@LostInParadise Have you Googled any of this? I know a tiny bit about model trains, but I think CSX has been around for a long time. People where I live work for them.
As for the rest, that is a big bunch of questions. Try google and please report back to us. I’m kind of curious now about a couple of those questions.

Response moderated
lillycoyote's avatar

More than you ever wanted to know about CSX.

My grandfather, great grandfather and two of my great uncles worked for the railroad when the railroad was king. In West Virginia. About all that’s left of the railroad in my dad’s hometown is CSX. They have a pretty strong presence there, here actually

jaytkay's avatar

How long have they been around?
CSX Corporation was formed in 1980 with the merger of Chessie System and Seaboard Coast Line Industries according to Wikipedia which has more on the history.

Why have I not heard of them before?
Because you probably do not ship carloads of freight.

Do railroads own the tracks they run on?
That is a really interesting question. In the case of at least one RR, yes.
“As of December 31, 2008 [the Union Pacific Railroad] operates on 32,012 miles (51,518 km) of track, of which it owns outright 26,171 miles (42,118 km)”

Do they ever share stretches of track with other railroads?
From the Union Pacific page on Wikipedia: “UP has also been able to reach agreements with competing railroads, mostly BNSF, that allow the railroad to operate its own trains with its own crews on hundreds of miles of competing railroads’ main tracks.”

The federal government gave the railroads millions of acres of land in the to spur development, an 1800s counterpart to more recent federal programs that created our highways and the Internet.

If you find all that interesting, you would enjoy the book Nothing Like It In The World by Stephen Ambrose.
”...the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad—the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks. ”

Seek's avatar

The CSX line runs about 50 yards behind my house. They have a wonderful habit of heading south with a half-mile worth of new cars in the middle of rush hour, so I potentially catch them at four different intersections.

Many of the railroad companies were bought out by automobile companies, and subsequently were put out of business. Tracks were taken down, and you can find train car graveyards all over the midwest (cite: my hubby, who lived near one). Auto companies could make more money manufacturing trucks to transport materials. Trains are too efficient.

blueknight73's avatar

i worked 30 years for csx as a locomotive engineer. they were made from merging c&o, b&o and l&n was formed in 1980. they do own their own tracks and sometimes pay to use other railroads track if neccessary. ( not very often ). they have their own intermodal company as well ( trucking ).

jaytkay's avatar

@blueknight73 i worked 30 years for csx as a locomotive engineer…

That kinda rocks

JLeslie's avatar

@blueknight73 That is so cool to me too. Transportation systems have always interested me, and I love the train.

LostInParadise's avatar

Yeah, that is cool. Apparently there are at least some others who share my romantic attitude toward trains. I can’t shake it, even knowing the power they once had and the ruthless ways they had of exercising it. I love riding trains. I still vividly recall seeing trains while driving in the desert and realizing that it was the first time I ever saw trains in their entirety. They looked like huge snakes.

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