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Old 07-15-2017, 04:25 PM   #1
ShortlinesUSA
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Default Thoughts from the RP community - G&W...love it, or hate it?

As an avid shortline fan, the thought of how Genesee & Wyoming is viewed among fans crosses my mind from time to time. I had lunch with another shortline fan last weekend, and over a beer we had a discussion on whether G&W is the worst thing to happen to shortlines or not so bad.

I think to many fans, it is bad, as I often see the company referred to as "the orange Borg" or any number of negative monikers. But our conversation went further than that, and we both agreed there are much worse things among the shortline holding companies which can happen. Points we discussed included--

1. They actually paint their power. Need I bring up an operator whose name rhymes with OmniTrax? So many of these companies are only concerned with the bottom line that paint is the last thought to cross their mind. As a business-minded individual, I fully agree that paint doesn't move freight, but you also must realize that shortlines are essentially small businesses. And if people don't know you exist, you won't build your business. At least spray the name of your railroad over the marked out Class 1 logo on your locomotive. But many are just fine with junk leasers or retired Class 1 power with markings sprayed out.

2. The working conditions are not so bad. Many of their lines pay well on the shortline industry scale. We both agreed there are wide-ranging differences between lines, and labor agreements (or lack thereof) vary widely among the properties. If you look at their operations, they tend to be in line with the local wage scale; that is, a nice place to live with low cost of living is likely to pay something above waiting tables, but certainly won't have you living in the city's exclusive gated community. But neither of us could remember G&W trying to quash a property when the train crews sought to organize, as many independent shortline operators have done over the years.

3. Locomotive variety. OK, sure, it's the same paint scheme with a different emblem, but look at the roster. Is there any other shortline holding company rebuilding first generation EMDs? I personally watched RailAmerica implement their "645 powerplant only" policy and sideline many, many good locomotives. If they had been the "winning" company in all of these buyouts, you could kiss those handsome (in my opinion) Arizona Eastern B40-8s goodbye. I also saw several 567-powered geeps sidelined, even though they had 645 power assemblies, and were darn near on par with a GP38, which is what RailAmerica was essentially trying to standardize upon.

Well, that's enough to get the conversation started. I would love to hear what you all have to say. And if the response is "Dang, Mike...already drinking on a Saturday morning?!?" bring it. I have thick skin. I enjoy hearing what y'all have to say.
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