Railroad Resources


A shipper's primer on how to identify a value-added shortline and how to use this recource to improve inventory management and supply chain efficiency.

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  • Measuring shortline performance is a snap if you track the consumables required to support customer expectations. What you get is a revenue move budget upon which managers can predict man/hours per revenue move and gear that to the rate at which consumables are consumed.
  • Benchmarks. The best way to know whether your company is living up to its potential is to compare yourself to your peers. Benchmarks accomplish at the very least three very important tasks. First, they provide a complete financial checkup to be sure your financial house is strong enough to support the goals. Second, they can compare your railroad's performance with other properties like yours. Third, they can provide needed input for RRIF loans from the FRA.The online Railroad Benchmarks Spreadsheet. Plug in your own variables and see how you measure up! [MORE]
  • Measuring Interchange On-Time Performance. This new spreadsheet will tell the shortline operator the Class 1 on-time performance results at the interchange. [MORE]
  • The "Rule of 100" argues that one needs 100 revenue cars per route mile of railroad per year to support that railroad. Is it right? [MORE].
  • Manage Information, Not Trains. Managing the rail network means knowing what trains need to run when and why customer processes are the main drivers. [MORE]
  • Train Performance Measures. Train performance metrics that can be used by shortlines and shippers alike to guarantee predictable transit times. [MORE]
  • Setting Goals. Benchmarks tell you where you need work, and as a rule performance shortcomings can be traced to four customer value drivers. [from the Railway Age archives]
  • Some Railroading Facts of Life. Pay attention to these, and improve your chances of winning (back) your business. [MORE]
  • Railway Age "Best Practices" columns" | Selected Web Links
  • TRAINS articles

"If you can't measure it, you can't fix it." The old adage evokes two challenges - why measure at all and if it ain't broke why fix it? A railroad is a business and as such must generate profits and a positive cash flow if it is to be sustainable. It's a service business, and as such depends on a steady flow of new and improved services. As far as being "broke" is concerned, the surest signs are loss of current customers and inability to attract new ones. Measuring service quality as seen by the customer is essential to remaining in business. The alternative is to become the next Fallen Flag.

RAILWAY AGE articles. Begun in 1990 as "The Marketing Advocate," this column ran in Railway Age magazine from 1991 through 2002, changing to Best Practices in 1995. The focus has shifted to feature articles beginning with "The Resurgence of Shortline Railroading in Northern New England" running in the September 2003 issue. Upcoming: "New Trucking Hours of Service Regs Create New Product Opportunities for Shortline Railroads." Also, "How shortlines Can Help Class I Partners Keep Wall Street Happy."


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