Modeling a Shortline.Part 1

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by brakie, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. brakie

    brakie Active Member

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    In this discussion we will be discussing class 3 short lines and not "paper" short lines that is own and operated by Class 1 railroads using their equipment.
    First what is a class three short line?
    By ARR railroad classification a Class 3 railroad is:
    A railroad with an annual operating revenue of less than $10 million
    What does a short line do?
    A short line is an independent railroad company that operates over a short distance serving few towns or small cities and industries that require rail service.
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    In the mid to late 1800s every small town and city wanted rail service so the communities would petition big railroads to build through their cities and towns however some times a major railroad may have not been interested and bypast that city or town or in some case flat refused to build a branch line to that city or town..So local businessmen would decide they will build a railroad to serve their communities and would seek financing from banks,investment companies,stocks to build their railroad.
    These short lines would haul general freight or perhaps be tied to a industry such as veneer lumber,stone,fire clay,pulpwood,coal,lumber mills,lumber finishing mills(not logging operation) and other such industries.As these natural resources dried up so did the bulk of the short line business and these roads fell on hard times and most cease operations within 20 years after they was built never having made a profit due to paying off loans and operation costs..Of course the coming of automobiles,trucks and paved roads killed what freight and passengers they had left.
    Also during this same time period there was several strong short lines built that flourish and are still in operation today.
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    For these type of short lines I would prefer a low driver 2-6-0,2-6-2 2-8-0 or 4-6-0 and model the 30s or for a stronger short line into the 50s and maybe have a GP7 or RS1 or RS3..Passenger service would be the daily mixed train regardless of era.
    This operation would be straightforward after switching our train into town and industry order we would couple onto the combine at the station load passengers-if any-and whistle off switching industries as we go and leaving LCL freight from the combine at the stations along the way and perhaps pickup cream and milk at the "milk" stations along our route which maybe no more then 2-3 farmers waiting at a grade crossing.
    Of course the stronger short lines may have cease milk operations and all passenger service.
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    Modern short lines from spin offs and mergers.
    To my mind these are the more fun type of short lines.These railroads are the result of the Staggers act that deregulated the railroad industry and lead to many marginal profit lines being lease or sold to short lines or Port Authorities sent up by local communities or business men and then either lease to a short line operator or perhaps a use locomotive is bought or lease and operated by the Port Authority.Of course the best path is to lease the line to a short line operator.
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    This concludes part 1.In part 2 we will discuss choosing a location,road name,industries,locomotives and operation.
  2. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

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    Neat stuff Brakie! I've recently developed a shortline for my layout to interchange with the Penn Central. My original motivation was just to have some locomotives that weren't black. :) But now I'm starting to ponder what industries they might serve....
    Ralph
  3. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

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    Very informative, Larry! Looking forward to Part 2.

    :thumb:
  4. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

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    I've been keeping quiet in this forum for the past couple weeks. I hope you enjoyed the breather, Larry, because I've been reading up on operations. My list of questions has grown every day, almost a whole page full now. Better eat your Wheaties!

    sign1
  5. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

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    As I think about it more I'm realizing there probably weren't many, if any, shortlines during the Penn Central years in NY. I'm guessing the ICC required them to be picked up by the NYC. I suppose modeling a shortline durin ghte PC might be historically unlikley? I guess my KP&W may be a fantasy but I still want freelanced line interchanging with my PC main.
    Ralph
  6. brakie

    brakie Active Member

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    Ralph,There was short lines in NY during the PC years but,these was old work horses that had been around for years..These short lines would include:
    Bath & Hammondsport
    Arcade & Attica
    Fonda, Johnstown & Gloverville
    Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley
    There were several others as well that operated during the PC years..
  7. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

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    Ah! That's good to know Brakie. I'll do some research on each to see if they might suggest some things for the development of my line.
    Ralph