Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Peter Baumhefner

Ann, you bring up some interesting points in the long history APL and then Pacer had with its underlying rail carriers. As the APL Stack Train was developed with the underlying carriers, we soon realized the rail carriers did not fully understand the efficiencies and gains they could realize by operating stack trains. Too many slots (a position on a double stack rail car where a container could be loaded) were left open thereby not utilizing all available loading positions. Nothing worse than an under utilized loaded train carrying around empty slots and air! We decided we could do it better by instructing the rail carriers how to load the trains, in fact, giving them instructions on where each and every container would go on the train. Internally this meant we could prioritize more time sensitive customers by loading them on the top so they would be unloaded first at destination. Of course, the rail carriers had a hard time accepting this new approach of letting a customer tell them how to better do their jobs. We proved to the carriers the actual benefits they could reap by properly loading their trains to full 100% utilization to the extent this whole process became part of the contractual agreement with the underlying rail carriers. I don’t think this load plan process created any anti-trust issues from a legal perspective, but it sure created some animosity at the onset. Imagine that, a customer telling the railroad how to do their business!

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