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Author Topic: Early years (1750-1857) freight networks  (Read 1619 times)

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Offline Jando

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Early years (1750-1857) freight networks
« on: November 01, 2017, 10:02:02 AM »
Hello all!

I have had the chance to test more freight networks and industries in the last weeks and decided to post a few threads highlighting problems that I hope are helpful for a balance discussion. Here's the first of these threads, this time focusing on road freight transport in the early years. Early years here means from 1750-1857 before steam (light traction engine) becomes available.

General observation: many cargoes cannot be transported economically on roads because the running costs of the convoy are higher than the revenue gained by transporting. Thus these freight lines will run at a loss even before accounting for maintenance of infrastructure or any road access charges. Here's a small example map demonstrating this: http://files.simutrans.com/index.php/s/SgaH6wjWkhJ8ArS

You see a horse drawn wagon transporting coal from a colliery to a coal merchant over a distance of 8.5 kms. The revenue gained by a trip does not cover the running costs for the trip.

The underlying problem of course is that the running costs of a convey are the same for all cargoes (2 horses and a wagon, thus 0.26 per km) while the revenue for a piece of cargo and the number of pieces transported per trip changes by cargo type. At the low end (making a loss) you have cargoes paying little revenue per km and having small capacity (3 pieces or tons per wagon), at the high end (earning profit) you have cargoes paying more per km and/or having high capacity (like food with 7 pieces per wagon). Mathematically we can even make a chart for the profitability of cargoes by multiplying revenue per piece and capacity per trip and we get the following (selected cargoes):

Code: [Select]
Cargo per piece Capacity Total revenue
Wool 0.11 4 0.44
Coal 0.19 3 0.57
Iron 0.19 3 0.57
Clay 0.23 3 0.69
Wrought iron 0.23 3 0.69
Bricks 0.19 4 0.76
China 0.20 4 0.80
Grain 0.30 3 0.90
Planks 0.37 3 1.11
Beer 0.29 4 1.16
Milk 0.17 7 1.19

Assuming full load from a producer to a consumer and an empty return trip profitable cargoes will be the ones near the bottom of that chart, unprofitable cargoes the ones near the top. Breakeven point is likely around grain meaning all cargoes above grain cannot be transported economically on road during the early years until 1857.

Offline jamespetts gb

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Re: Early years (1750-1857) freight networks
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2017, 10:15:08 AM »
Thank you for your feedback. As you know, cost balancing has not yet begun, and will need some significant additional features before work can start on this. However, the difference in the prices for transporting different kinds of freight is definitely realistic: the exact relative prices of each different type of freight are all taken from historical data.

Offline Jando

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Re: Early years (1750-1857) freight networks
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2017, 01:26:25 PM »
Thanks for you answer, James.

Ah, I have likely misunderstood your earlier post about balance then, here: https://forum.simutrans.com/index.php?topic=17220.0

Somehow I read costs and prices as costs and prices of vehicles instead of running costs and revenue. My apologies. Please ignore my ramblings. :)

Offline wlindley us

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Re: Early years (1750-1857) freight networks
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2017, 02:18:23 PM »
Even today, carrying coal by air-freight is a losing proposition.  It is not unreasonable that bulk commodities moved in small vehicles would lose money. In a full network, one would expect profits from high-value manufactured goods which depend on those bulk commodities to more than make up for them.

This is why grocery stores happily lose money selling milk, but if they did not have milk, you wouldn't drop in and buy the ginormous box of those hyper-organic gluten-free non-GMO low-fat hand-crafted granola bars, would you?

Offline Jando

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Re: Early years (1750-1857) freight networks
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2017, 06:48:40 PM »
... It is not unreasonable that bulk commodities moved in small vehicles would lose money.

True, but at least I used the largest road vehicle available at that time. :) Building a canal or train track to a coal merchant is no option anyway.

In a full network, one would expect profits from high-value manufactured goods which depend on those bulk commodities to more than make up for them. ...

Equally true, but most of the cargo on typical Britain-Ex maps goes to coal merchants, gasworks, power stations and builders' yards that don't manufacture anything.

Offline Dutchman on Rails

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Re: Early years (1750-1857) freight networks
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2017, 08:46:14 PM »
Even today, carrying coal by air-freight is a losing proposition.  It is not unreasonable that bulk commodities moved in small vehicles would lose money. In a full network, one would expect profits from high-value manufactured goods which depend on those bulk commodities to more than make up for them.

This is why grocery stores happily lose money selling milk, but if they did not have milk, you wouldn't drop in and buy the ginormous box of those hyper-organic gluten-free non-GMO low-fat hand-crafted granola bars, would you?

I agree with the idea behind this, but found that until you have a sizable income base in the 1700s, the losses on a loss-making route can be so great just one route can break the company's back. The exceptions are the market barges, due to their low running costs and occasional profit from mail, and the meat routes, which are easily offset by the livestock drovers.

The way forward in that era is to rent the infrastructure from the public service, and focus on profit-making routes only. Going this way from just a few livestock drovers (plus loss-making meat routes) through rails to canals, I got from a starting capital of a mere 5000 in 1750 to about 315000 in 1845 in a very low-key economy. But there's still a tad missing.