Capdiamont\’s Weblog

Why not a railroad in and to Humboldt County?

Time and time again, the Heraldo side just doesn’t get it. The railroad is needed. Period, end of story.

Why? Several reasons, some environmental.

Less fuel use, with railroads averaging 425 miles to haul one ton of freight while only burning one gallon of diesel fuel. But you say, diesel is bad, and all NCRA has is old locomotives? Wrong on several reasons. 1) NCRA didn’t own any locomotives, 2) all diesel engines can burn biodiesel, 3) with the settlement of the Novato vs NCRA lawsuit mandates the use of cleaner locomotives. There goes dirty diesel Pete Nichols’ reasons.

Also less fuel use due to mostly easy grades, compared to the many hills/mountains of 101.

Less wear and tear on highway 101 when it was in operation. Less wear and tear on 101 means several savings, one reduced maintenance money used, the other the less damage caused to vehicles traveling 101. Less damage to vehicles, means less claims against Caltrans for damage. Also less pollution from exhaust pipes, tire wear, and oil leakage from the repaired asphalt.

There has been, and will continue to be a hemorrhaging of businesses due to the excessive cost of shipping to and from the area. Did you know we used to have a wood fired water heater business here in Eureka? They went out of business, due to costs of shipping. But you say only the large shippers, the resource based will use it? It wasn’t that way, nor does it have to be that way. Did you know butter used to be hauled out of Humboldt county from Fernbridge, even during Eureka Southern times? What about Lost Coast wanting to ship out via rail because it would cost them $1,000.00 less a car load? You don’t hear that with claims in the comments that we don’t have 2 railcars worth of stuff to ship out.

What other ways can we increase car loadings? People cite car loadings are generally by the railroad and will not serve most businesses. That can be mitigated several ways. Think of a hub and spoke model. The hub being the railroad, specifically points of loading on the railroad, the spoke the businesses. Several ways to make this work, 1) have truck trailers with railroad wheels built in “roadrailer”, just have a special boogie for the front to latch in to, to carry the front , and to connect to the locomotive, or car. 2) Use regular truck trailers on special flat cars, also called TOFC, 3) use containers, such as the port intends to use. 1, and 2 wouldn’t necessarily need additional land to use, 3 would, maybe use the ports land until some other place comes to use.

Next passenger use, you don’t hear in Hank’s latest anti railroad piece. Is buy local. Here it is usually buy local, and yet deride local efforts to have a tourist train, like one you wouldn’t have to travel out of town to. One that increases the tourist reason to come here, and stay a bit longer, bringing more money to the local economy, in a non selfish way. IE we who are working to bring the tourist train, are not doing it to bring us a job, or money. I have a job, Marcus has a job/apartments, etc. A tourist train is an infrequent, passenger train usually only done on the weekends. There is no reason why the locals can’t use it, as transportation, taking bikes, to go between the cities.

You know they were talking of adding a 2nd excursion train during Eureka Southern times between Eureka, and Willits? Then it is a short jaunt from there to Cloverdale and the SMART train.

I like the idea of short passenger trains/speeders being used to transport people, and bikes between the cities. One commenter on the latest letter to use the rails is derided for such an idea, as being too expensive. Really? It should be cheaper than ripping out the rails, and putting in a trail. It doesn’t take much energy to power one. The small size needed, can be cheap to build. You don’t need to improve the bridges, rail, ties, or roadbed to support such small vehicles. They can be EV’s with solar power, or human powered.

The problem with ripping out the rails and putting in a trail is several fold. a) the railroad must not have any use of said ROW for twenty years b)where is the money to maintain the trails going to come from? Green Wheels are are noticeably silent on that issue. c) putting the rails back, have only been done 6 times, and each time there is opposition. d) if the train is put back, how much is the trail going to cost then(also is another part of the issue where Green Wheels is silent)? If it is vital to put in, why not put it in a permeate place?

Even got local blogger MovieDad with creative ideas to use rail.

That is what Dan Hauser was trying to establish, I think.

For an example of light rail that is proposed to go in the place of a trail and the opposition, IE “c” go here.

Update, I forgot to post about geography, etc.

What about short sea shipping? You can’t ship anything out of the harbor until it reaches the harbor. So it needs another transportation method, too reach there. If you use rail, then there will be less emissions.

What about it is under the flood zones? Every route, including the highways are under flood zone. So what? After the 1964 flood it was the railroad that was open for operation sooner than the highway.

What about the instability of the geography of the NWP and the cost to restore it?

It was kinda funny listening at a harbor district meeting a while back, a lady said the Shannon and Wilson report saying it requites rip rap, and Fish & game says that is illegal now a days. From looking at a graph of costs, it had two columns, one without rip rap, and the other with, so that was a lie. She also said she was helicoptered in, and people were willing to pay her millions to say the plan was environmentally sound. Sure, and pigs fly too. Maybe little green men flew her in? What am I getting at, is people are willing to dismiss the Shannon and Wilson report, around 120 million or so, and go for the uber 600 million cost Fema report. Why? Because they don’t care if we as a county losses jobs. They don’t care that decreasing costs to businesses, means tat same money can a) help keep the businesses afloat b) could go to other things like benefits, or c) wage increases, or d) decrease debt.

The coverage part of the S&W report went to south of Willits, not just the canyon. It did the study like a business would do it, cheap, yet using improved methods to reduce landslides. The Fema report was to bridge everything.

The cost, is I think would be between the two. It will never be perfect, but it will help the North Coast be not so isolated, and help us not become a total welfare state.

What about the tunnels and some of them have cave ins? This isn’t totally a bad thing, for this actually gives up the opportunity to increase their size for double stack container trains. There are many ways to do so, a) increase the height by taking out material from the top. This is usually an expensive option, due to safety, and engineering to make sure it stays safe. Since the cave ins, material from the cave ins would also come from the top, providing an increase in height. b) Usually is it is done by lowering the floor, which is the least expensive, due to not much messing with the structure. c) daylighting, no more tunnel, everything above the tunnel is removed, IE it is now a cut, d) shoofly, a temporary detour around a tunnel.

The Island mountain tunnel will need a combo of a and b, for you can’t lower the floor on the southern half of the tunnel due to the need to connect to the bridge there. You could daylight it, if there wasn’t a house on top.


1 Comment

I enjoyed reading your assesment of a potential railroad revitalization.

I would add to that list:
-A series of large industrial business parks featuring large plots of land and ready-built warehouses/manufacturing plants leased to industries with the specific caveat of having all of their long-haul freight handled by rail.

A successful version of this theory is the Modesto & Empire Traction, which is still very profitable and runs daily in it’s namesake city.

Comment by Author of Interacting with Miniature Railroading

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