Blogs

  • Blog Post: Gloves come off in the fight for Canadian Pacific

    Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and the captains of industry who sit on the board of Canadian Pacific don’t play well together. Last Monday, after each side revealed the contents of emails they had exchanged in confidence, Ackman declared war, announcing he will wage a proxy fight in May to unseat...
  • Blog Post: Bill Ackman's plan to transform Canadian Pacific

    It has been a while since I’ve seen a movie any more entertaining than the show that New York investor Bill Ackman put on yesterday in Toronto. Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, is in effect challenging the corporate elite of Canada on their own turf, in his bid to put a new...
  • Blog Post: 'What do you want me to do?'

    One of the things that must frustrate many railroad managers and their rank and file is the question posed in the title atop this essay: Should a manager want workers to think big like he or she does? Or is that too much to expect? At the other end, the worker bees must wonder what is expected of them...
  • Blog Post: Canadians and their Hunter Harrison thing

    I’ve been called to account for my column in the April issue of Trains Magazine that argues Hunter Harrison would make a better chief executive officer of Canadian Pacific than the incumbent, Fred Green. The arguments against my opinion piece are of three sorts, and deserve a closer look. I should...
  • Blog Post: Is a peace treaty at CP in the wings?

    Pressure is mounting on the warring parties battling over the leadership of Canadian Pacific to negotiate a truce prior to the scheduled May 17 annual meeting and shareholder vote for directors. That pressure is greatest on the board of directors of CP, who favor retaining Fred Green as the railroad’s...
  • Blog Post: The fight for Canadian Pacific seems over

    “It’s sealed,” a securities analyst emailed me today about the fight to control the future of Canadian Pacific. Institutional Shareholder Services had condemned the stewardship of CP by its present board of directors and recommended that seven directors nominated by an opposing faction...
  • Blog Post: Waiting for Hunter

    Guess what everyone is doing at Canadian Pacific HQ in Calgary? The place is like a besieged city that has sent up the white flag and now waits for the invading army to enter the gates and plunder. So yes, copier machines are running off copies of Hunter Harrison’s two books, “How We Work...
  • Blog Post: Will the marriage of rail and oil be everlasting?

    The Financial Times today reports that Phillips 66, a refining spinoff from ConocoPhillips, is ordering 2,000 tank cars able to carry some 120,000 barrels of crude oil a day out of the Bakken Shale oil fields in North Dakota. This is just the latest sign (although the biggest one yet, costing $200 million...
  • Blog Post: Waiting for Keith

    I’ve been on the gossip circuit lately, asking people what’s holding up Hunter Harrison’s appointment as chief executive officer of Canadian Pacific. The hotly contested election of CP directors was five weeks ago, and the faction promising to bring Harrison out of retirement elected...
  • Blog Post: Hunter hits the ground running

    Hunter Harrison has wasted no time putting his imprint on Canadian Pacific. My friends at that railroad say he is already a making changes large and small. To my knowledge no one has been dismissed. That will come later. Harrison has been making his way across Canada and the northern United States since...
  • Blog Post: The great debate: To mount or not to mount a moving train?

    My dispatch titled “Hunter Hits the Ground Running” generated a slew of responses, to the point that I felt that I was attending a Safety Committee meeting and was about to ask if Canadian Pacific ball caps were being passed out to attendees. The way I put it was that new CEO Hunter Harrison...
  • Blog Post: Looking for railroad history in Canada‚Äôs capital

    [caption image="/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-00-07-48/1680.DSC_5F00_0713.JPG" position="right"]Canadian Pacific 4-8-4 No. 3100. Photo by Jim Wrinn [/caption]OTTAWA – Participants at this year’s Association of Railway Museums/Tourist Railway Association...
  • Blog Post: Two railroads, two trains, two outcomes

    Updated March 1, 2013 I am just back from two transcontinental train trips, one after the other, from Chicago to Seattle on Amtrak’s Empire Builder and from Vancouver, B.C., to Toronto on VIA Rail Canada’s Canadian. I enjoyed both experiences — in each instance, the well maintained...
  • Blog Post: Entering Chicago, the hard way

    I’ve written before about Norfolk Southern’s Funnel of Fun, its busy line into Chicago from Cleveland, Toledo, and Elkhart, Ind. It has always been a minefield of potential problems. Sixty years ago, New York Central ran 48 passenger trains on weekdays in and out of Chicago. But I wager today...
  • Blog Post: I'm back: Things you may not know

    Natural gas as locomotive fuel. Within six months BNSF Railway will be testing six high-horsepower locomotives, three each from General Electric and Caterpillar’s Electro-Motive, using liquefied natural gas. A switch from diesel fuel would cost BNSF billions of dollars up front, but could pay for...
  • Blog Post: Romancing Keith

    It was known by practically everyone, when hedge fund manager Bill Ackman fought to install retired Canadian National CEO Hunter Harrison in the top job at rival Canadian Pacific, that Keith Creel would eventually follow his former boss to be Harrison’s right-hand man in Calgary. And in February...
  • Blog Post: Hunter Harrison takes the offensive

    The Canadian Pacific CEO used an interview with Toronto's Globe & Mail, published today, to blast Canada's transportation-safety establishment for its slowness in investigating the Lac-Megantic catastrophe and failure so far to toughen safety standards. "God forbid that something else should happen...
  • Blog Post: Hunter: We don't run hotels in Calgary

    While we’re on the subject of Canadian Pacific’s iconic headmaster, Hunter Harrison, a tip of my hat to Railway Age editor Bill Vantuono for this delightful scoop: “The Canadian Transportation Agency on September 13 ordered Canadian Pacific Railway to immediately cease and desist...
  • Blog Post: What railroad are you thankful for?

    [caption image="http://cs.trains.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-00-07-48/2262.EastTroy.jpg" position="left" targeturl="http://cs.trains.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-00-07-48/2262.EastTroy.jpg"]My daughter looks...
  • Blog Post: The railroad that cannot be bought

    In journalism we call it a slow news day, and at such times we try to think of anything we can write about. I don’t know the term securities analysts use on these occasions, but it obviously was such a day last week for two Canadian analysts, who suggested in separate notes to clients that Canadian...
  • Blog Post: Don't fight God

    The situation facing Canadian grain farmers is almost Biblical. Their 2013 crops of wheat, canola, barley, and other grains was 40 percent greater than that of 2012 and far above average. Moreover, the harvest was a bountiful surprise forecast by almost no one. Now a new year is underway and it seems...
  • Blog Post: Our railroads are a MESS

    I don’t recall ever seeing so much of the railroad industry in such disarray. Examples are everywhere you look. Tens of thousands of new vehicles sit on lots in Detroit and Toledo, waiting for rail cars to take them to dealers. Canadian National and Canadian Pacific strain under their government’s...
  • Blog Post: The demise of crude by rail is greatly exaggerated

    Some of my correspondents — smart people, all — have gotten a case of the jitters regarding crude oil by rail. They point to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, the keeper of statistics for Bakken shale production, which says rail’s market share of oil leaving the state fell from a...
  • Blog Post: Foolishness disguised as journalism

    I subscribe 365 days a year to the New York Times (the real NYT, delivered to my driveway), so I obviously think well of it. Bear that in mind as I lay into the newspaper for a really shoddy job of reporting today, reproduced at the conclusion of this blog, so that you can reach your own conclusion....
  • Blog Post: FAQ: CP-CSX merger talk (updated)

    [caption image="/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-00-07-48/3247.CP_2D00_CSX_2D00_merger_2D00_01.jpg" position="right"]Photo by Bruce Stahl[/caption]Major railroad industry news broke this weekend with reports that Canadian Pacific had made merger overtures to CSX...