Woodalls Open Roads Forum: Just an interesting observation about Trains, RVs and Coal
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 > Just an interesting observation about Trains, RVs and Coal

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bigdogger

Texas

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Posted: 11/19/12 11:10pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was talking to a friend who is an engineer for the Railroad. He drives a coal train about a mile long. We got talking about how much, or should I say how little, the value of the coal is. A coal car holds around 100 tons of coal. A coal train has 140 cars. They are running Powder River coal out of Wyoming that is selling for around $9.00 per ton. That makes the entire cargo of the train worth about $126,000. Less than the value of my RV. He said that it costs about $6,000 an hour to run the train and the run from the coal mines to the power plant is over 20 hours. Therefore it is costing more to ship the coal than it costs to buy it. Wouldn't it make more sense to build the power plants right next to the mines?
So remember, if someone offers to trade you an entire trainload of coal for your rv, they might be trying to take advantage of you.

Old-Biscuit

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Posted: 11/20/12 12:01am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The power company doesn't worry about the cost of fuel........that is passed on to consumer.

Building a power plant involves more than where the fuel source is.

Fossil fueled plants (natural gas/coal) costs approx. 4 cents per kWH (operation/maintenance/fuel costs) to generate.

What they can 'sell' it for is a whole different story.....
Regulated, Unregulated, Open Market, Capacity Margin, Overnight, Reserve Capacity etc.


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jetboater454

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Posted: 11/20/12 05:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Same reason the .29 chinese thing at walmart costs $2.98...shipping.


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Chickenkiller

Van Buren, Ar.

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Posted: 11/20/12 06:00am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I used to work in a coal mine in the Powder River region of Wyoming. Did not have an RV then. Since moving to Arkansas I have had to wait at railroad crossings for coal trains going somewhere to pass. I always remember the times I spent in the mine while watching those trains go by.


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skipnchar

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Posted: 11/20/12 05:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

lol you're confusing VALUE with price. There is a lot more VALUE in using the train load of coal to generate heat or electricity for thousands of people than anyone's RV. Given a CHOICE, which one would YOU be willing to do without?


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phillyg

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Posted: 11/20/12 05:40am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think the OP was being sarcastic, yes.


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pa traveler

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Posted: 11/20/12 06:19am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Here in Pa ,in last ten years chesnut coal has gone from $85 a ton to $210 a ton .Considering all the work involved with a coal furnace its not worth it. There is such an abundance of coal yet they are gouging the consumer.Im switching to different fuel and just turning a thermastat in stead of picking up coal ,shoveling it in ,taking out ashes. It used to be a way of saving fuel costs in the northest,not any more. The coal your talking about is different,just letting you know about this side of using coal.

Tom N

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Posted: 11/20/12 07:56am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Old-Biscuit wrote:

The power company doesn't worry about the cost of fuel........that is passed on to consumer.


I can select my electric supplier as most can. Thus, an electric producer would be very interested in lower priced coal. If they could buy coal cheaper than their competitor they could undercut the competition.

* This post was edited 11/20/12 08:15am by Tom N *


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donn0128

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Posted: 11/20/12 07:58am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

bigdogger wrote:

. Wouldn't it make more sense to build the power plants right next to the mines?
.


Have worked in power plants that were built on top of the coal mine. Mt Storm, WV comes to mind. It is much cheaper to string power lines than it is to transport the raw materials most of the time. But a power plant also needs a vast supply of water. Remember burning coal is used to produce steam to turn a generator. Many coal mines are not near a water source suitable for turning into steam.


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sowego

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Posted: 11/20/12 08:11am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our barn home sits a 1/2 mile from the BNSF railroad, a landmark called "Breezy Point", about midway up the grade from Crawford to Belmont. They do run over 100 trains with over 100 cars per day through here on double tracks, 1/2 full going east and 1/2 empty heading back west plus quite a few regular freights so we see a lot of trains but luckily we don't really hear them that well and also luckily we are train fans so don't mind our own model railroad off in the distance. We also see the airplanes coming up out of the Boeing plant headed for WA.

Around here the railroad is one of the major employers because the train uses pushers to get up "Crawford Hill", the pull up out of Crawford to Belmont. Once they top the hills in Belmont they unhook and head back north to help push another load up the hill. With so many trains they have many helpers sitting waiting for the next load with trains sometimes staged along the rails all the way north to Edgemont, SD.

We often go up to the bridge over the railroad at Belmont to watch the pusher unhook. It's only 3 miles form us, and one of our major things to do when company comes. Ah what a simple life we lead when one of our biggest joys is watching trains! Wouldn't trade it for anything!

One day in the future coal will be phased out but I doubt it will be for a long time since it will take of alot of "something" else to replace that energy source.

As another poster suggested water is one reason they don't have a lot of power plants near the mines. Anyone who knows this area understands we don't have a lot of big rivers or huge lakes near the mines. I've also heard its because the power might need to be transmitted further than is usually considered feasable. And I guess the corridors to put a lot of power tranmission lines is almost filled up with other lines. These trains are heading quite a ways east for power to be used in that region of the country.

Some of the coal is headed to sugar beet factories along the Platte River Valley. If you buy GW sugar it was processed with coal.


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