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Riding the Rails: Following Warren Buffet

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Warren Buffett bought Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC) and Union Pacific Corp (UNP).

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The market has been good until the second quarter. However, a lot of large cap stocks lagged the market. We all know that Warren Buffett has more than $50 billion of cash in hand. The underperformance of large cap stocks certainly gives him more opportunities.


Here we would like to invite everyone to participate. The top two winners will each win a copy of great investment book selecting from this list:


@: http://www.gurufocus.com/news.php?id=10412


"America today has a railroad system that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of. Neither of the two major presidential candidates in 2004 mentioned railroads, but if we don't refurbish our rail system, then there may be no long-range travel or transport of goods at all a few decades from now."

- says James Howard Kustler: http://www.energybulletin.net/4856.html


Some RAIL stocks: http://www.advfn.com/cmn/fbb/thread.php3?id=14521968




Stop Ignoring Rail, America

By Alan Drake


A step-by-step approach that makes greater use of electric rail to reduce America's dependence on oil.



This article is reprinted from the ASPO USA Peak Oil Review for 9 July 2007. We also recommend reading Local Rail on The Oil Drum.


Step One – Electrify US Freight Rail Lines and Shift Freight to Rail

Japanese and most European railroads are electrified. The Russians recently finished electrifying the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from Moscow to the Pacific, and to the Arctic port of Murmansk. So there are no technical limitations. Electrifying railroads and transferring half the truck ton-miles to rail should save 6.3% of US oil consumption.


Electrified railroads also expand rail capacity since they accelerate and brake faster. Today’s diesel railroads are roughly eight times more energy-efficient than heavy diesel trucks. Railroads carried 27.8% of the ton-miles with 220,000 barrels/day while trucks carried 32.1% of the ton-miles with 2,070,000 b/day (2002 data).


When we convert trains to electricity, the rule of thumb is that 1 Btu of electricity will do the work of 2.5 Btus of diesel on rural plains, and 1 to 3 in mountainous and urban areas. Generating electricity back into the grid when braking is the difference.


These savings are multiplicative. Switch freight from truck to diesel rail (x8 savings) and electrify the railroad (x2.5 savings) and end-use goes from 20 BTUs of diesel to one BTU of electricity.


Faced with cheap oil and toll-free interstate highways for decades, US railroads reduced their capacity (often by tearing up one of two tracks) and ceded much cargo to trucking. Today, intermodal shipments (local trucking, long distance by rail via containers) are growing rapidly – but this trend must be accelerated.


USA railroads have pointed to property taxes as the reason that they have not electrified (no taxes on their diesel, property taxes on electrification infrastructure). Exempting any rail line that electrifies from property taxes under the Interstate Commerce clause would promote the rapid electrification of many rail lines. Expanding capacity would then be more economically attractive without the burden of property taxes. Removing property taxes on electrified rail lines would take the thumb off the scale in the economic competition between rail and trucks. Trucks pay no property taxes, directly or indirectly, on their right-of-way. Trains do. Local property tax losses above a certain percentage of total taxes could have the excess compensated by the Federal Government.


Step Two – Increase Urban Rail Federal Funding

Building the gas-saving equivalent of twelve DC Metros would save 4% of US oil use (6% of transportation oil use). New electric mass transit will benefit the USA much more than new highways.


In 1970, 4% of DC commuters used city buses to get to work. Today over 40% use public transit. The difference is the 106 miles of Washington Metro. Washington Metro saves between a half-billion and a billion gallons of gasoline per year; changes in urban and suburban development patterns contribute to these savings. Such savings will only increase over time.


...more: http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=1287

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Solar-electric rail is a smokeless, noiseless rail transit system based on recent advances in solar racing car technology. The electric power will involve a utility grid/solar photovoltaic mix, with the mix changing as PV costs come down. Following is a listing of the features and benefits of the UltraLite Rail System.



The goals of our Ultralite is to reach 100-200 lbs/passenger, to lower energy consumption. It will be virtually silent, autonomous, with opportunity charging at stations. With electric propulsion, it will have low maintenance. It will be aerodynamic, low profile, unlike a bus or train, but like an oversized sports car. The rail itself is easy to install (feasibly on existing streets for automobiles) and removable if requirements change. Priority will be given to local development and fabrication.


@: http://www.ecotopia.com/webpress/wre4/

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hmmm..........i think you've missed the jpoint; afaiaa the problem is that the us cant expand coal fired production as the railways from the coal areas to the powerstations are running near capacity . consequently they have a near monopoly. buffet likes simple ideas like buying silver below cost of production; not pie in the sky ideas! my bet fwiw is that buffet is buying the monopoly and not the pie!

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  • 1 month later...

St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that Amtrak Illinois ridership soars

Who says the media doesn't report on good news?


Amtrak Illinois ridership is exploding, thanks to the leadership of the Illinois General Assembly to double service, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Terry Hillig files this report on the 40% growth on the St. Louis - Chicago corridor.


At the end, Hillig notes the on-time performance issues that have hurt the corridor (particularly between St. Louis and Springfield):


The ridership gains have exceeded the optimistic expectations of Illinois and Amtrak officials but have not been without a downside. Trains are often late and it is usually because Amtrak shares its routes with freight trains.


"We had some teething problems in the beginning," Magliari said. "The service was initiated without any additional infrastructure."


But on-time performance has improved steadily, and officials of Amtrak, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Union Pacific railroad are discussing improvements that will make it easier for Amtrak trains to pass the freights, he said.

Let's hope they get on it. Late trains are unacceptable. And furthermore, we should be able to squeeze out the padding on these schedules to get these trip times closer to four hours than the 5 hours, 40 minutes we have today.


Imagine how many more riders we'd attract with a trip time of four hours!


@: http://mwhsr.blogspot.com/

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DWINDLING COMMUTER RAILS, beginning a slow recovery


Chicago is the only city in the Midwest where commuter trains continue to operate. Commuter trains previously operated in several other Midwest cities, but they all have been discontinued. Included are old schedules for these obscure commuter trains.



Since 1984, the commuter rail system serving the Chicago area has been known as Metra. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) was formed in 1974 to coordinate and subsidize transit in the 6 county Chicago metropolitan area, and the RTA soon entered into "purchase of service contracts" with the private railroads operating the commuter trains. The RTA was reorganized in 1984, and Metra was created as the agency responsible for the commuter rail system.


Most of Metra's lines are named for the original operating railroads. Metra now directly operates all trains, except for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, and the Union Pacific (formerly the Chicago and North Western).

. . .

In 1996, Metra opened the Chicago area's first new commuter rail line in 70 years, with the North Central line to Antioch. And in 2006, Metra expanded service over this and two other lines


/more: http://hometown.aol.com/metrafan/mainmet.html


- - -


REVIVING RAIL? Detroit-to-Ann Arbor?


Commuter trains are a tough sell in southeast Michigan, where the car is king. Trains don't mesh well because Detroit is not a vibrant core city and because of the sprawling pattern of jobs and homes. It's possible that the window for effective rail mass transit has long since passed this area by. Indeed, we've strongly opposed a thankfully abandoned plan to run an excessively expensive train between Lansing and Detroit. We aren't all that happy about the money aimed at an equally expensive line between Ann Arbor and Detroit.



Yet this plan offers some appealing differences. As proposed, it is far less expensive for both taxpayers and riders. It can make use of existing rail and rolling stock. There are promising economic development benefits at both ends of the line.

There are enthusiastic, practical people behind the plan. And there is employer support in Ann Arbor, including the University of Michigan Medical Center, which is — at least initially — willing to underwrite the train fare for employees.


These promised benefits aren't etched in stone, but they are reason enough for government leaders to give the proposed train an earnest look. When they do, they should discard some of the myths and weak arguments that are tossed about by both supporters and foes of train traffic.


/more: http://www.livingstondaily.com/apps/pbcs.d...D=2007708260337

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  • 8 months later...

I'm looking for a RAIL index

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  • 6 months later...



I bought a few CSX calls yesterday.

This will help me stay interested. I might add some, if/when there is a clearer

sign of a bottom

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