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Discussion Starter #1
Coal use is becoming less and less due to environmental laws.
industries are finding new ways to power up..
Will this lead to the demise or near demise of freight trains and maybe even passenger lines ? Unless I'm wrong I believe coal is the #1 commodity that trains haul..I hope I'm wrong...M
 

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Coal is still used a lot in power generation ...and it's expensive to replace the generating plants ..
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Guys, your replies are nice. But I'm just asking: Will the lowering use of coal prove to be the lowered use of trains ? Hypothetically, if coal became completely useless will it affect RRs to a point of demise ? Or, is coal not as big a piece of the pie as I think ?
 

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I have not done research on this, just personal observation, but it may depend on the part
of the country that they are in.
 

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Guys, your replies are nice. But I'm just asking: Will the lowering use of coal prove to be the lowered use of trains ? Hypothetically, if coal became completely useless will it affect RRs to a point of demise ? Or, is coal not as big a piece of the pie as I think ?
Reduction in coal use has and will affect the railroads. Some more than others. But I don’t think coal will disappear. And while reduction in coal use may have a significant impact on some short lines that haul mainly coal, it won’t lead to the demise of any class 1 railroads. They haul other freight such as intermodal which is increasing. Trains mag did an article recently on the changing percentages of various types of freight.

Not sure why you included passenger lines in the question. I think the interstate highway system and government subsidies of airports pretty much did them in years ago.
 

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The Trains article was a bit less pessimistic. But then, the NRLC looks like it's function is to give the railroads a better bargaining position in labor negotiations.
 

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Hypothetically, if coal became completely useless will it affect RRs to a point of demise ? Or, is coal not as big a piece of the pie as I think ?
Coal is a huge piece of the pie, but isn't the whole pie. RRs still will be hauling manufactured goods, grains, ores, military, passengers, building materials, and more. Certainly some RRs will be severely affected. Likely we'd see another round of buy-outs and mergers. But the RR industry would survive, in my opinion.

And the less freight traffic, the more time and space for passenger trains!


 

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My opinion. If less freight trains the prices of transported goods will rise.
Americans, people who live in the U.S., have little interest in rail travel outside the big city areas and even less interest in long distance rail travel.

I really like rail travel but don't use it because it does not go where I want to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Reduction in coal use has and will affect the railroads. Some more than others. But I don’t think coal will disappear. And while reduction in coal use may have a significant impact on some short lines that haul mainly coal, it won’t lead to the demise of any class 1 railroads. They haul other freight such as intermodal which is increasing. Trains mag did an article recently on the changing percentages of various types of freight.

Not sure why you included passenger lines in the question. I think the interstate highway system and government subsidies of airports pretty much did them in years ago.
Bob, reason is, since coal haulage is the main income for US RRs, then passenger lines may not be able to survive the impact of that.
Please refer to 'gunrunnerjohn's 'Coal in Decline' (above) 6:57 AM.. This is what I'm worried about.
 

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"Coal use" isn't going to disappear, despite the best effort of the greenies to eradicate it.

It's just too vital a component of the power-generation system.

Nuclear is no longer commercially viable nor publicly "acceptable", particularly after the Japanese disaster. Few if any new-construction nuclear plants are going to happen in our lifetimes.

Natural gas seems to be working for now, but eventually the gas fields will "play out". What supplies remain will eventually be needed more for residential and commercial/industrial applications.

Solar and wind?
That's laughable.
Both of these industries have to be heavily subsidized by the government, and both require some kind of "fossil fuel backups" to keep electricity online when the wind ain't blowin' and the sun ain't shinin'.

That leaves coal.
There's at least 400-500 years of it "in the ground".
It's become technically possible to reduce most (I said "most", not "all") of the emissions during power generation.
It's easily accessible, transportable, and -- unlike natural gas -- it can be stockpiled by utilities if necessary.

Coal ain't goin' nowhere.
 

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the problem is solar cell efficiency keeps going up ... it's nearish 20% efficient right now in commercial panels. it may then just be very much cheaper to build solar panels for example than strip mine, etc... certainly if one imagines the efficiency will continue to improve, at some point it will be cheaper.
 

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I can say I think I’ve seen a handful of coal trains on the bnsf main line that’s behind my house in the last few years. Granted I don’t see every single train but the trains are primarily intermodal here other than the couple locals that run through here and the few trains on the Norfolk southern interchange but those are primarily crude oil unit trains or mixed freights. My town gets an average of 200 trains daily so I severely doubt it will slow down traffic near my house if coal mining completely ceased. I hope this answers your question. Coal may be the most shipped item but the big class 1 roads will always have other work
 

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Coal use is becoming less and less...

Coal use is becoming less and less due to environmental laws.
industries are finding new ways to power up..
Will this lead to the demise or near demise of freight trains and maybe even passenger lines ? Unless I'm wrong I believe coal is the #1 commodity that trains haul..I hope I'm wrong...M
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The planet and the atmosphere benefit from reduced coal use. Model RR people win because we will still have clean air to breathe. The evolution of technology affects every industry and product on the planet. This is normal and natural. There are MANY things for freight trains to ship worldwide even without coal shipments. Passenger trains seem to be in a whole different category.
 
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