Railroad Congestion: We Need A Chicago Bypass

Accelerating economic growth across the United States is dependent on the ability of our rail system to meet both current and future shipping demands. As our nation’s economy has grown in recent years, our rail system must strive to keep pace.

Today’s rail system is choked by congestion and delays at critical junctures. Take Chicago, for example, where shipments face enormous and costly delays. While it takes about 48 hours for a train to travel from Los Angeles to Chicago, once that train arrives in Chicago, it takes roughly 30 hours just for it to cross the city. And according to a report by the Illinois Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, rail freight volume in Chicago is expected to double by 2025.


In my home state of West Virginia, I have seen firsthand the impact rail delays have on our ability to engage both in interstate commerce and international trade. Shippers in our state rely on the freight rail system to transport coal and other natural resources across state lines to ports and industries up and down the East Coast. The new Norfolk Southern (NS) Pritchard Intermodal facility in Wayne County, funded by TIGER grants, NS, and the state, is an excellent start to addressing infrastructure needs. This project must continue and receive full support from all stakeholders.

Adding additional rail infrastructure to meet such demand will be difficult for a host of reasons, not the least of which are limitations on space and NIMBY concerns, so the system is in a vulnerable position. Try as we might, we cannot build our way out of this problem as quickly as we need to.

Shippers across the country pay the price for the current impasse. They are often unable to get their products to markets on time under normal conditions, much less when operating in conditions of extreme weather, such as during the winter of 2013/2014, or during major shifts in freight volume. With major rail hubs up and down the Midwest and Northeast facing unmanageable congestion daily, it has become increasingly clear that North American rail is in need of a quicker and more efficient solution.

In order to ensure our rail system can manage the increasing volume of traffic without sacrificing efficiency, the rail industry, to its credit, is looking for alternative solutions. Canadian Pacific (CP), in its proposed merger with NS, says it is trying to unwind current congestion issues and add capacity through improved efficiency. CP argues that its merger with NS would create an end-to-end, single-line solution that better utilizes North American rail lines, increases velocity, offers improved service for shippers, and positions the railroad industry to better support increasing freight volumes. The two carriers’ rail lines do not cover the same geography, so there would be no diminishment of options for shippers.

The proposed merger has critics, of course. NS has said CP’s multiple offers have been too low, and that the merger will trigger more in the industry. On Capitol Hill, some have raised questions about the interim structure of the proposed deal, known as the “voting trust.” A voting trust is put in place in order to allow the companies involved to move forward on a transaction, while preserving the companies as separate and independent during the lengthy regulatory review process. If the deal is not ultimately approved, the voting trust allows the transaction to be unwound without harm to either party. Voting trusts help ensure that the regulatory review process does not discourage or prevent transactions that could provide important public benefits.

Since the passage of the Staggers Rail Act in 1980 – in which I was an active participant on behalf of captive coal shippers – the STB has allowed the parties to use a voting trust in 144 transactions, and disallowed a voting trust in none. Voting trusts have long served as an effective tool for protecting competition and the public interest during periods of regulatory review specific to rail, and other regulated industries. A preliminary question for the STB is on the voting trust for this transaction, which would place CP in voting trust and enable its CEO to resign from CP and become NS’s CEO during the regulatory review period. CP’s CEO has an enviable record of making railroads run better, which is what he would plan to do at NS while waiting for the STB to decide on the merger.

In the end, this all comes down to doing what is right for the future of North American rail. What solution is best for America’s growing economy? If you ask me, we should give all proposals that can deliver badly needed capacity serious consideration if our rail system is to meet future demand and accelerate the growth of our economy.

By Former Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)


Charity painting

Annas Art - FärgaregårdsAnna

NinnaO asked about the painting behind the Spring exhibition poster in a previous post.

This is the poster for the Spring exhibition in Trosa 2016

The painting in the background were made during the Spring exhibition 2015.

The people who arranges culture events in Trosa collected autographs from the music artists,actors and authors who visited Trosa during 2015 on a canvas.

Then the visitors at the exhibition and the Spring exhibition artists painted the canvas with many colors.

The final result, a fantastic painting, were auctioned out on a charity event in the end of 2015.

Wonderful painting, I think.


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Supply Chain Managers As Business Leaders

It’s customary to think of supply chain professionals as department managers or technologists or even as programmers. But the role of today’s supply chain professional is changing to be a much more complex and responsible position. And it’s because the supply chain is becoming the heart of the business world. No longer is it possible for a company to simply have a great product. And letting the world know about it and be enthusiastic to know more and even motivated to buy just isn’t enough. Products now need to be available through multiple channels and deliverable based on customer preference. The complexity of today’s supply chain means the people responsible for it need to be more.

Check these skills that are critical to delivering a successful supply chain.

Technical, Enterprise, Business, Outreach



MTA nets $27 billion in New York state’s 2016-17 budget

Under a New York state budget agreement announced late last week, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will receive more than $27 billion in funding, including $8.3 billion toward the agency’s capital program.

The amount marks the state’s largest investment toward the capital program, MTA officials said in a press release.

The MTA will now submit a revised plan of projects to be supported by the capital program to its board and to the state’s Capital Program Review Board.

“The [capital] plan will enable the MTA to maintain critical infrastructure while renewing, enhancing and expanding our system to meet the ridership and growth demands of the future and improving the current experience for the millions who critically rely on our system each day,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast.

The state budget also allocates $1.5 billion toward Phase II of the Second Avenue Subway extension.

Additionally, the budget sets aside $27.14 billion for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). That sum includes $21.1 billion for capital improvement of highways, bridges, rail, aviation infrastructure, non-MTA transit and facilities throughout the state, according to a press release issued by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The budget aligns capital programming for NYSDOT and MTA over a five-year period and includes additional commitments for priority projects and programs that extend over a sixth year, Cuomo’s release stated.