Roy Blanchard is a
Contributing Editor for Railway Age and has written extensively
on shortline operations, marketing and finance. Recent articles include
a discussion of Paper Barriers, unique and creative coal projects, economics
of car leasing, and how shortlines can differentiate themselves from the
competition. Going further back, Blanchard wrote a Shortline Advocate
series that ran for more than ten years. All these articles and more are
available on line by clicking on the embedded links below.
Best Practices (formerly The Marketing Advocate)
appeared in issues of Railway
Age every other month September 1991 through June 2002, with
occasional feature articles as well.
| 2001 | 2000 | 1999
| 1998 | 1997 | 1996
| 1995 | 1991-1994
the Interchange Work
June 2002 -- Making the interchange work better will help simplify the
carload network by taking out inconsistency and random events
Important is the RIA?
April 2002 -- Some shortline acquirers may find it a tempting prospect
to try to undo the non-compete agreements they signed with the sellers.
Perseverence, and Performance Measurement
February 2002 -- At 130 carloads
per mile per year the Eastern Idaho enjoys 13% better density than the
average shortline, 72% more carloads per locomotive, and 78% more carloads
January 1997 -- How secure is your business in the face of the Conrail
merger? A look at customer value drivers and how to make sure your service
You Prepared for the Conrail Merger?
March 1997 -- Weighing the competing CSX and Norfolk Southern proposals,
and their implications for short lines.
May 1997 -- A look at what the breakup of Conrail, with parts going
to CSX and parts to NS, will mean for short lines.
June 1997 -- Another look at the dark side of demurrage.
Deal: 120 Days and Counting
July 1997 -- The Surface Transportation Board wants to preserve existing
competition. Is this a hunting license for short lines looking for new
access? When you have a case, and when you don't.
You Making Any Money?
September 1997 -- These shortliners build revenue from the opportunities
Deal: The Buzzer Sounds
Now that the shortlines have filed their concerns, how will they fare?
You Want to Buy a Railroad?
January 1996 -- All that's left on the Monopoly board is the Short Line.
Do you want to buy it? Are you in a position to buy it? And can you
make it work?
March 1996 -- When to rely on, and when to reach out beyond, your connecting
class I partner.
Wrong With This Picture?
May 1996 -- The typical boxcar cycle -- load release-empty-place for
load -- is about 27 days. No wonder you can never find one when you
really need it.
More Than One Way To Find a Boxcar
July 1996 -- Shortlines looking for their class I partners to shield
them from the effects of the dwindling boxcar fleet had better look
to themselves for a long-term solution.
September 1996 -- How the Iron Bound Railway and the Arizona & California
are throwing away the old playbooks and designing service offerings
to meet shipper needs.
Country Heard From
November 1996 - From north of the border, a class I finds a new way
of working with its short line partners. Is it working? Wall Street
seems to think so.
limit yourself to one Class I connection
January 1995 -- Access to more than one Class I means competitive access:
it gives you and your shippers options, and encourages connecting Class
Is to think twice before taking a particular piece of business for granted.
to earn more money per train-start
March 1995 -- Looking at yield per carload and yield per train-start
offers a fresh new perspective on both the economics and the synergies
of running a railroad.
to uncouple demurrage charges from car-hire
May 1995 -- Demurrage is not a profit center; it's a sign of a sick
logistical system. The less of it you charge, the healthier your railroad
and the happier your shippers.
time to shed those "ice cream shoes"
July 1995 -- Management-by-Walking-Around builds short line value, but
it takes work boots as well as tassel loafers to do it.
for all stakeholders
September 1995 -- Why the publicly-traded Class II and III lines who
consider the needs of all their stakeholders are consistently outperforming
the slash-and-burn Class Is.
November 1995 -- A bias for action and a commitment to staying close
to the customer drives these two successful short lines.
Taking of Car 12723
July 1991 -- a look at a nightmarish sixteen-plus-day move of a test
car for a potential customer.
are all marketers
November 1991 -- Most workers on a feeder line wear many hats. Here's
why the "marketer hat" should be one of them for everyone.
demonizing your Class I
January 1992 -- Although Class I bashing is a satisfying sport among
many shortliners, it damages the relationship with your best customer.
or be niched
March 1992 -- On the benefits of niche marketing for the feeder railroad.
to get first class service from your Class I
May 1992 -- Class I resources that help build short line business.
the trucks at just-in-time
July 1992 -- Just-in-time doesn't necessarily mean off-the-railroad.
A case study of one feeder line manager's successful fight to keep a
just-in-time convert shipping on his line.
on the Elkins exemption
September 1992 -- How the ICC helped to level the playing field for
the railroads, and how the feeder line can benefit.
as a marketing tool
November 1992 -- A "Dear Customer" letter that explains this
contentious issue and turns it into an opportunity to improve service.
business has many "owners." Here are a few.
January 1993 -- Every railroad employee has an ownership stake in every
customer's business, which is what marketing is all about.
March 1993 -- The Fallen Flag & Eastern saw no need to change. Where
is it now? Change is nowhere nearly so threatening when it's understood,
and when it's a change you've had a hand in.
thinking can make for success.
May 1993 -- Yesterday's conventional wisdom is today's gibberish in
an era of rapid change. Here are some ways feeder lines are defying
conventional wisdom and doing the "impossible."
build business, you've got to go see the people
July 1993 -- It's been proven that a manager is only as good as his
market intelligence. The best way to gather intelligence along your
railroad is to go out and look.
win new customers, do your homework
September 1993 -- Common customer objections to rail service, and how
to address them.
means going beyond the buzzwords
November 1993 -- Use your scrounging, finagling, and scavenging skills
in the marketing arena to deliver results to your customers.
win business, demonstrate your price advantage
January 1994 -- Demonstrating your price advantage may seem self-evident,
but if you and your customer aren't speaking the same language you'll
never be able to show the savings. Some ways to break the language barrier.
yourself: would you ship on your railroad?
March 1994 -- Take a good look at your railroad's operations, through
the smudged bifocals of a harried, overburdened and perplexed shipper.
It may just dictate your strategic plan for the next six months.
time to "fix the process." Short lines can do it best
May 1994 -- If you have to end-run the system all the time, it's time
to overhaul the system. Here are ways some short lines have done just
line stages a crash -- and sends a message
July 1994 -- Why the Aberdeen Carolina & Western wasted an '89 Olds
for the CNN cameras.
the culprits on car supply
September 1994 -- Whose fault is it this time? The answer may surprise
Is are your customers -- not "evil step-parents"
Let's review: who "buys" all our outbound freight? So why
aren't we treating them nicely?