CP ‘disappointed’ in UP CEO’s comments on proposed NS merger

Canadian Pacific officials today said they were “surprised and disappointed” to learn that Union Pacific Railroad‘s chief executive is reportedly working behind the scenes with other railroads to prevent consolidation of the Class I rail industry.

They reiterated their view that a CP merger with Norfolk Southern Corp. would enhance competition and is in the public’s interest. They noted that UP itself has been the product of numerous mergers that “created one of the largest route networks in North America.”

“It is unfortunate that UP would try to use political pressure to co-opt the regulatory process and prevent other railroads from enjoying these same benefits and becoming more effective competitors to UP,” CP officials said in a press release.

UP Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Lance Fritz was quoted by the Journal of Commerce as saying a CP-NS merger is not in the best interest of the rail industry or customers. Fritz was speaking to attendees of the annual winter meeting of Midwest Association of Rail Shippers, according to the Journal.

A CP-NS merger would damage competition and set off a string of consolidations that would present challenging headwinds to the North American rail industry, the Journal reported.

There are a lot of risks in front of us. I’ve outlined a lot of them,” Fritz said, according to the Journal. “But, job 1, from our perspective, is to stop a Class I merger from occurring.”

CP officials responded to the reported comments by adding that Fritz’s “attempts to rally support for the status quo among the other Class Is demonstrate a disregard for competition, the processes of the STB, and the needs of shippers and the broader economy.”

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State Senator Charles Squadron urges MTA to inspect R subway line

The R train is desperately in need of improvements, according to state Sen. Daniel Squadron, who is among several elected officials pushing the MTA to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the subway line.

Squadron, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, the Riders Alliance, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and 41 other elected officials called for the MTA’s next Full Line Review to study the R train.

In 2009, Squadron worked with the MTA to create Full Line Reviews of subway lines in which the agency takes a close look at train service over a period of months to see if improvements are needed.

The Full Line Reviews, which have been done for the A, C, F, G and L trains, have led to more frequent and on-time trains, newer and cleaner subway cars, and other cost-effective service improvements along the subway lines, Squadron said.

Not only are Squadron, Gentile and transit advocates seeking a Full Line Review of the R train, they are also looking for the inspection of the subway line to go faster than previous reviews of other train lines.

“This Full Line Review can’t be as delayed as an R train commute,” said Squadron (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan). “I hope the MTA pursues this Full Line Review, and quickly offers results and improvements.”

In a Jan. 11 letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, Squadron, Gentile and their fellow lawmakers urged a speedy review process.

“We also request that this review be conducted in a timely manner. The almost 18 months that it took to complete the A/C Full Line Review is, simply, too slow. Riders cannot be expected to wait that long for service assessments and improvements,” the letter reads in part.

The R train runs from 95th Street in Bay Ridge to Continental Avenue in Queens with several stops in Manhattan.

For Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst), the new push for better R train service confirms what he has always believed — that it’s not just Bay Ridge residents who are suffering.

“I have heard my local constituents’ tireless complaints regarding R train service for the entirety of my term in the City Council. However, ridership grievances stretch far beyond Bay Ridge. Riders from Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn share the same sentiment: R train service is a nightmare,” Gentile said.

The R train is repeatedly late and overcrowded, suffers from infrequent service, frequent delays, unkempt stations, inadequate audio systems and the use of older subway cars, Gentile said.

Gentile recently held a rally outside the R train station at 77th Street and Fourth Avenue to demand serviced improvements.

Lisa Levy,amember of the Riders Alliance, is an R train rider. “There’s always a problem with the R train. The other week it took me two hours to get home because of a disruption, and there was no service announcement!” she said.

Cate Contino Cowit, coordinator for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said riders want answers soon. “The goal here isn’t to study the R train to death, but to create timely and practical ways to better serve the tens of thousands who use it. Today, riders often call the R the ‘Rarely.’ Maybe if transit officials do their best, one day its nickname will be the ‘Reliable,’” she said.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the R train will be getting a Full Line review, just as all subways lines are. “Chairman Prendergast has committed to undertake Full Line Reviews of all subway lines in the system,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle via email.

But transit advocates shouldn’t expect an R train review any time soon, according to Ortiz, who said it has to wait out of necessity.

“A review of the R has not yet been scheduled because if we were to conduct a line review of the R now, it would be obsolete almost immediately, because the opening of the Second Avenue Subway will significantly change overall service on the Broadway Line. The opening of Second Avenue Subway will affect how many people ride the R and how the R operates, so it would be premature for us to conduct an R line review on the cusp of such a change,” he said.

Power Plant Gulf War Syndrome

Power Plant Men

Originally posted December 13, 2014.

It seemed like it was getting dark already when Scott Hubbard and I were driving home from the plant in Scott’s pickup on January 16, 1991. We were listening to NPR on the radio, as we did most days. Just as we were entering Stillwater on Hwy 177, NPR suddenly stopped their regular broadcast to announce that there were reports of bombs dropping in Baghdad.

Up to this point, we had all hoped that Saddam Hussein, seeing the massive buildup of the U.S. and other countries at his border would pull his forces out of Kuwait and go home. At 5 pm Central Standard Time (2 am Baghdad time), the week long air assault on Saddam Hussein’s troops began. Scott dropped me off at the church where he had picked me up 9 1/2 hours earlier and I drove straight home. Glued to the radio…

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