Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Housing Bust and the Train

Is it just me or is the Willamette and Pacific railroad operating a little less frequently these days? OSU students and alumni, I'm sure, can't forget the dulcet tones of the train horn blasting away at 6:30am as it makes its was across campus. What better way to get you up and ready for your Monday morning 8am class in International Economics?

I am fortunate enough to live close to the tracks and I have noticed what I think is a lot less traffic on the tracks these days as compared to a year ago. Makes sense as the line carries mainly wood products and wood pulp along with some scrap and steel and much of what it carries is either directly consumed by the building industry or is affect by it. And lately there is not a lot of demand for building materials.

But then again it could be that I am just not noticing it as much these days compared to when I first located close to the tracks.


Dann Cutter said...

It's not only the housing bust... it's the tracks.

Railroad tracks are frequently very very old. For the valley, many of these tracks haven't been updated in 80 years. The trains are getting larger, the loads are getting heavier. What his translates into is slower running. Loads that used to run at 45mph, are now running at 15mph.

End result, many fewer trains due to increased costs. Each train must really matter if it takes three times as long to get there. So, trains are now being consolidated to address these track issues.

While not the biggest factor in good shipments, it will have the most profound effect in train numbers.

Jeff said...
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Jeff said...

I also have been living near railroad tracks for the last couple of years, and have not noticed the trains as much in the past several months.

I'm not sure if there are fewer trains, or I'm simply getting used to the sound -- and hardly notice it anymore.