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CPR has named Hunter Harrison as its new President and Chief Executive Officer

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CPR has named Hunter Harrison as its new President and Chief Executive Officer
Posted by AgentKid on Friday, June 29, 2012 7:54 AM

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, June 29, 2012 8:01 AM

Surprise! Surprise! [/sarcasm]

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Posted by AgentKid on Friday, June 29, 2012 9:24 AM

After an hour or so since I first saw the news I have had a chance to put a few thoughts together.

I think EHH is in for the fight of his life. The CPR is in a bad way. As I said back on January 3, 2012, in the thread "Changes at the top of Canadian Pacific" you can't run a railroad, without a railroad. Cut, cut, cut, simply isn't going to work in this situation. As it stands now CP doesn't have enough infrastructure, motive power or personnel to deal with the expected and needed upturn in business. Where is the money going to come from to deal with the first two problems? And as far as personnel goes, you would need to cut and replace staff at a 1 to 1 ratio with better staff to even keep their head above water, and where do these people come from? Is "Precision Scheduled Railroading" even a viable or valid option at this point?

If CP weren't an international company, there would be one obvious solution; sell out to a bigger railroad. But given the regulatory situation in Canada, that is a non-starter.

I don't wish EHH any ill will, it is just that I am profoundly disappointed and yet not surprised that it has come to this. I hope he is the man for the job.

Bruce

 

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, June 29, 2012 10:57 AM

Bruce ( AgentKid ) wrote [in part]:

"...As it stands now CP doesn't have enough infrastructure, motive power or personnel to deal with the expected and needed upturn in business. Where is the money going to come from to deal with the first two problems? And as far as personnel goes, you would need to cut and replace staff at a 1 to 1 ratio with better staff to even keep their head above water, and where do these people come from? Is "Precision Scheduled Railroading" even a viable or valid option at this point?

If CP weren't an international company, there would be one obvious solution; sell out to a bigger railroad. But given the regulatory situation in Canada, that is a non-starter..."

As another poster ( BaltACD) exclaimed!

Surprise!, Suprise!  I tend to agree with his assessment.  I think that EHH  joining the management team at CPR was pretty much a foregone conclusion. The only questions being in the How, the When, and who were going to be the survivors still standing.  My 2 Cents

To the point you made about the conditions existing at CPR currently, referencing the physical plant, the equipment needed to run the railroad and the depth of the personnel needed to bring down the operating ratio and make the line a class operation again. 

In another of your Threads:

"Canada might impose rules in rail shipment tiff" (linked @)

http://cs.trains.com/TRCCS/forums/t/207486.aspx

There is a discussion of the Tariffs and their effects on the operations of the CPR, and past and current agreements effect the movement of grain across CPR. 

There was mention of the equipment needed to accomplish those moves, and I am wondering how that lack of grain cars to carry the harvest will impact the CPR either negatively, or positively?

Since you are much closer than the rest of us. Can you comment on the shape of the physical plan and equipment available to CPR?  Also do you think that CN would have any impacts on those situations?  


Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, June 29, 2012 11:56 AM

I'm happy with this development. E H Harrison, love him or hate him, has a reputation for improving safety and bottomline results. This is exactly what CP needs. They need  a strong leader who can bring about rapid change. His track record speaks for itself..if he can't improve CP then I don't know who can.  

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Posted by AgentKid on Friday, June 29, 2012 5:03 PM

samfp1943

There was mention of the equipment needed to accomplish those moves, and I am wondering how that lack of grain cars to carry the harvest will impact the CPR either negatively, or positively?

Since you are much closer than the rest of us. Can you comment on the shape of the physical plan and equipment available to CPR?  Also do you think that CN would have any impacts on those situations?  

In the late 1980's there was an article in National Geographic tracing the route of a typical carload of grain from a Saskatchewan farmer's field to the port of Vancouver, with what I think are the four most important words ever written to describe the nature of the Canadian grain handling system; "distance is the enemy".

To operate a railway in Canada 24/7/365 you have to be able to do it from -40° to +40° Celsius. In Fahrenheit, think 40 below to somewhere around 105-110 above. To do this requires a pretty good level of maintenance just to keep up with basic wear and tear. Having said that, it is when you get off of the mainline that things start getting problematic. Saying we will get to that next year, for too many years, is what led to Fred Green's Multi-Year Plan

Saying Canadian railways have a shortage of equipment to handle the job is something that has been said since there were grain producers on the prairies. The one real solution, and one both railways have never really addressed, is equipment cycle time. Shortening cycle times is a problem that requires an expensive solution; involving track upgrades, motive power purchases, and hiring the necessary employees to do all the jobs, from car-knockers to the running trades. You can't base rolling stock inventories on what might occur (bumper crops), but a best estimate of average needs, and then keeping the equipment moving.

Your question about CN is interesting . At one point Pershing Square Management announced that one of its' proposals was a co-production agreement with CN along the Winnipeg-Edmonton corridor. This led to comments on Canadian forums that EHH's former employer may need such an agreement as bad as PSM says CP does. CN may have one of the best engineered lines in North America on this segment, as has been observed elsewhere. But predecessor Grand Trunk Pacific built it as a single track line, including some of the largest railway bridges in Canada, And now there is one of those ACME 16-ton anvils hanging over CN's head as regards the cost of needed double-tracking of their route. No longer is their future so bright they have to wear shades.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

Bruce


 

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

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Posted by tatans on Friday, June 29, 2012 5:27 PM

Growing up in a large railway town on the prairies, a lot of my friends and family worked for the CPR I never heard one word praising the CPR, all we ever heard was how bad it was and how poorly run, I heard this all across Canada, from traincrews to clerks, and some of the reasons for firing crews for miniscule rule violations just before retirement age, my neighbours Dad was fired one year before retirement for stepping ON a rail, he never recovered from this financially and healthwise.

Also find out where the CPR got it's money when they started up Canadian Pacific Oil & Gas, an interesting read in itself. Sounds like the past deeds  have now caught up to present day.  Many of the staff I knew always wondered just how the beauracratic bungling within over many years ever  allowed anyone to really run a railway.  I guess a monopoly self generates.

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Posted by dakotafred on Friday, June 29, 2012 6:02 PM

My, my, some people have described a mountain for Harrison to climb. I suspect he is just the person to do it. I have read many stories of smart, hard-charging executives (E.H. Harriman of the U.P. and J.D. Farrington of the Rock Island, to name only two of dozens) who led their roads out of situations much more dire than that at C.P.

It's not that C.P. is so bad, but that it could be so much better. I'd buy my C.P. stock now. In fact, I AM buying my C.P. stock now. (Oops, not until Monday.)

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Posted by steve14 on Friday, June 29, 2012 6:05 PM

The last element in improving cycle time of cars is the unloading, which the railroad, especially at the grain ports, has little control over. Enter Hunter and his attempts to force shippers to get things unloaded quicker, etc.

It also does not make a lot of economic sense to build a fleet of cars to handle the ultimate peak shipping demand that could ever happen.

Will be watching CP closely over the next year or more to see what progress wil be made.

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Posted by AgentKid on Friday, June 29, 2012 6:59 PM

tatans

Many of the staff I knew always wondered just how the beauracratic bungling within over many years ever  allowed anyone to really run a railway.  I guess a monopoly self generates.

I think that statement might not be altogether wrong. It sort of explains both how the CPR is still here, and how it got here in the condition it is in.

I can't say I agree with your assessment of company/employee relations. Even today my Mom still speaks with pensioners who have good things to say about the company. And the pensioners clubs seem to be doing well. The CPR was strange in a way that modern HR consultants might find peculiar, in that on one hand there was always employee dissent, and yet the stories of employees going to the wall for the company are too numerous to repeat here.

One example I have posted before involves my Dad on a Sunday afternoon after a major blizzard closed the mainline in western Saskatchewan. A Section Man somewhere around Gull Lake, on his regular day off, came up on the dispatchers line and said that he had just finished shoveling out such and such siding, and where did Dad want him to go next. Dad quickly looked down at the Train Sheet and realized this fellow just had dug out a siding over a mile long armed with only a shovel and a speeder, and was looking for more work! As much as Dad wanted to tell him to go home and rest, he didn't want to insult the Section Man, so he said since all the trains were still stopped he could go to which ever siding would work best for him. He ended his shift before he found out how the rest of that story ended.

To put it all in perspective though, in his book "Gravity, Steam and Steel" by Graeme Pole, the author states that between 1886 and 2009, some 250 Canadian Pacific Railway employees have lost their lives on the Rogers Pass section of the railway. And not once did the CPR have to force employees to return to their jobs at gunpoint.

Bruce

 

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, June 29, 2012 7:27 PM

steve14

The last element in improving cycle time of cars is the unloading, which the railroad, especially at the grain ports, has little control over. Enter Hunter and his attempts to force shippers to get things unloaded quicker, etc.

It also does not make a lot of economic sense to build a fleet of cars to handle the ultimate peak shipping demand that could ever happen.

Will be watching CP closely over the next year or more to see what progress wil be made.

Carriers can exert a great deal of control over port operations with their requrements for obtaining unit train rate and penalties for both excessive time in loading trains as well as unloading trains.  Money talks  South of the border, and I expect it can be made to talk North of the border.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Lyon_Wonder on Friday, June 29, 2012 10:05 PM

I wonder what this will mean for CP's routes in the US, especially the DM&E?

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, June 29, 2012 10:44 PM

Bruce (Agent Kid)  Posed the following [in part]

"...Even today my Mom still speaks with pensioners who have good things to say about the company. And the pensioners clubs seem to be doing well. The CPR was strange in a way that modern HR consultants might find peculiar, in that on one hand there was always employee dissent, and yet the stories of employees going to the wall for the company are too numerous to repeat here..."

 Certainly speaks to the culture of the railroaders on CPR.

 tatans' post about some of the employees and their voicing how they felt about the CPR in pretty much pejorative terms; seems to follow an old military saw that said that, 'as long as the troops very voicing their contempt for the bosses/organization the men were happy. It was when they quit their bellyaching that the brass should worry because something was afoot.'

  I cannot speak to the culture of the CPR, but Bruce's post about the MOW foreman seems to prove it in part. [ In the USMC there was a sense of pride that as Marines we were able to 'do more with less' than other branches in the US Military.]

 One thing for certain EHH is going to have a heck of a mountain to climb as he faces a revamping of the CPR, its' organization, and Culture. In the efforts to turn around the problematic operations in Canada and in the USA.

The CNR is definitely NOT the CPR, and what works in one organization may never work in the other ; It will be a real learning experience for all concerned, as they work out many issues between what is not working and profitability.  My 2 Cents


Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by AgentKid on Saturday, June 30, 2012 8:31 AM

For those of you who haven't clicked on the link at the top of this thread since yesterday morning, you should do so again. CTV has added more to the story, including excepts from EHH's letter to CP employees.

Bruce

 

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, June 30, 2012 8:41 AM

AgentKid

For those of you who haven't clicked on the link at the top of this thread since yesterday morning, you should do so again. CTV has added more to the story, including excepts from EHH's letter to CP employees.

Bruce

 

I have to agree with the CN comments - I don't see how EHH can operate CP without drawing from the 'privileged CN' information that is embedded in his mind.  He may not consciously draw from that information, but having been exposed to it, it is something that cannot be forgotten when it comes to developing business strategy for CP.

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Posted by edbenton on Saturday, June 30, 2012 10:35 AM

I read the Letter and I can tell you this there are a Lot of Middle and Senior Management right now going WHERE IS THE DOOR.  Things are going to be Bloody in a few Months and the Crews over there are going to be the ones to pay for it let alone the Managers.  Look for the D&H to be sold off to the NS why would give NS a grip in the Upstate NY and better acess to NYC direct and allow CP to raise some Much Needed Cash for the Rest of the system.  Also look for the Mainline across ND to get some MASSIVE captial Spending on it along with if he can come up with it the PRB Expansion for coal to move for Export to China.  Think about it he has Approval and he could get the Chinese to fund it if he can get them to pay for it. 

Always at war with those that think OTR trucking is EASY.
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Posted by tatans on Saturday, June 30, 2012 1:10 PM

AgentKid

 tatans:

Many of the staff I knew always wondered just how the beauracratic bungling within over many years ever  allowed anyone to really run a railway.  I guess a monopoly self generates.

 

I think that statement might not be altogether wrong. It sort of explains both how the CPR is still here, and how it got here in the condition it is in.

I can't say I agree with your assessment of company/employee relations. Even today my Mom still speaks with pensioners who have good things to say about the company. And the pensioners clubs seem to be doing well. The CPR was strange in a way that modern HR consultants might find peculiar, in that on one hand there was always employee dissent, and yet the stories of employees going to the wall for the company are too numerous to repeat here.

One example I have posted before involves my Dad on a Sunday afternoon after a major blizzard closed the mainline in western Saskatchewan. A Section Man somewhere around Gull Lake, on his regular day off, came up on the dispatchers line and said that he had just finished shoveling out such and such siding, and where did Dad want him to go next. Dad quickly looked down at the Train Sheet and realized this fellow just had dug out a siding over a mile long armed with only a shovel and a speeder, and was looking for more work! As much as Dad wanted to tell him to go home and rest, he didn't want to insult the Section Man, so he said since all the trains were still stopped he could go to which ever siding would work best for him. He ended his shift before he found out how the rest of that story ended.

To put it all in perspective though, in his book "Gravity, Steam and Steel" by Graeme Pole, the author states that between 1886 and 2009, some 250 Canadian Pacific Railway employees have lost their lives on the Rogers Pass section of the railway. And not once did the CPR have to force employees to return to their jobs at gunpoint.

Bruce

 

My intent was not to denigrate CPR employees, my experience was they were very hard working employees and nice people, seems the CPR never seemed to appreciate their endeavours, and I'm sure the employee dedication kept the CPR solvent and not the "suits" or management,  I hear this time and again.       The best result from the CPR mentality was in the company magazine (Spanner) on the retirement page, the photo showed this surprised section man retiree after 49 years of  service was  presented a photo of his former bosses, nice eh?   at least he never got fired.

And let us not forget the strike in Moose Jaw in the 1950's the CPR held out through the winter of 40 below and most engineers never did recover from the strike, that made a lot of loyal employees from that point all across Canada.

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Posted by cptrainman on Saturday, June 30, 2012 4:05 PM

 

It is nice that so many posts appreciate past CP employees. As with any large organization, you will find hard working employees and employees that try to do as little as possible.

I have been with CP long enough to know that Pershing and Harrison are right. I have seen management milking the CP cow for too long now. No accountability is (was) the norm. It is going to be hard, no doubt, to change. Change is never easy but in this case it is necessary.

CP has become so inefficient, it is, i don't know, a joke. Even me at my low level as engr can see that what is happening is a joke. Management does not buy into the plans put forward by senior management. Without buy-in, plans will fail.

Hunter is going to shake things up, make people accountable for their actions and get rid of the dead wood. I myself welcome that as it will ensure my future employment and give me a sense of pride in the company I work for. As hard as it will be for me, I am sure it is going to be much harder on these managers that have been milking the CP cow for so many years. It will be fun to watch them run around in fear for their jobs.

This precision railroading that is mentioned is designed to create predictability in operations. Now, even though we have a scheduled railroad, trains seem to depart kind of close to their departure time, but they arrive at any time. Personally, I waste so much time because I cannot move due to a train arriving way too early, or hours late. Trains departing/arriving on time, is designed to save manpower and resources. Right now we are too undisciplined to get this done. Just two nights ago my crew wasted hours due to a train departing 5 hours late. Why was it 5 hours late, because the local manager was not able to handle a busy day and get the train built on time, but I am sure on his status report he blamed it on the switch crews. I hope Hunter can weed these people out and find a way to get rid of them.

I am sure he will get rid of some assets to create capital for infrastructure. PBR, forget it. The deal will cost too much. I bet it would be in the billions. The DM&E deal had a provision that CP must pay 1 billion if they ever reach PBR in the next 25 years. Who gets that 1 billion I am not sure, but that is on top of infrastructure costs. Getting China to pay for it would be nice, but China is moving away from coal and turning to Nuclear power.

As I always say, we got our track to KC. Merge with KCS. I know the STB will not like two class one's merging, but I believe it is the only merger left that can be argued as an increase in competition. I hope Hunter comes here and reads this as I have no way to contact him unless he shows up one day when I happen to be there.

It's going to hard for everybody, but it is needed.

 

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Posted by dakotafred on Saturday, June 30, 2012 5:50 PM

It's nice to see someone in train service with cptrainman's positive attitude, along with his eye for the kind of things that need fixing.

He and those like him have nothing to fear from Hunter Harrison. May their tribe increase. 

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Posted by cptrainman on Sunday, July 01, 2012 5:17 PM

 

Thanks dakotafred for your encouragement during what will be a tough time.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, July 02, 2012 8:38 AM

cptrainman

 

It is nice that so many posts appreciate past CP employees. As with any large organization, you will find hard working employees and employees that try to do as little as possible.

I have been with CP long enough to know that Pershing and Harrison are right. I have seen management milking the CP cow for too long now. No accountability is (was) the norm. It is going to be hard, no doubt, to change. Change is never easy but in this case it is necessary.

"CP has become so inefficient, it is, i don't know, a joke. Even me at my low level as engr can see that what is happening is a joke. Management does not buy into the plans put forward by senior management. Without buy-in, plans will fail."

Hunter is going to shake things up, make people accountable for their actions and get rid of the dead wood. I myself welcome that as it will ensure my future employment and give me a sense of pride in the company I work for. As hard as it will be for me, I am sure it is going to be much harder on these managers that have been milking the CP cow for so many years. It will be fun to watch them run around in fear for their jobs.

This precision railroading that is mentioned is designed to create predictability in operations. Now, even though we have a scheduled railroad, trains seem to depart kind of close to their departure time, but they arrive at any time. Personally, I waste so much time because I cannot move due to a train arriving way too early, or hours late. Trains departing/arriving on time, is designed to save manpower and resources. Right now we are too undisciplined to get this done. Just two nights ago my crew wasted hours due to a train departing 5 hours late. Why was it 5 hours late, because the local manager was not able to handle a busy day and get the train built on time, but I am sure on his status report he blamed it on the switch crews. I hope Hunter can weed these people out and find a way to get rid of them.

I am sure he will get rid of some assets to create capital for infrastructure. PBR, forget it. The deal will cost too much. I bet it would be in the billions. The DM&E deal had a provision that CP must pay 1 billion if they ever reach PBR in the next 25 years. Who gets that 1 billion I am not sure, but that is on top of infrastructure costs. Getting China to pay for it would be nice, but China is moving away from coal and turning to Nuclear power.

"As I always say, we got our track to KC. Merge with KCS. I know the STB will not like two class one's merging, but I believe it is the only merger left that can be argued as an increase in competition. I hope Hunter comes here and reads this as I have no way to contact him unless he shows up one day when I happen to be there."

It's going to hard for everybody, but it is needed.

And this comment as well:

dakotafred replied on 06-30-2012 5:50 PM   

"...It's nice to see someone in train service with cptrainman's positive attitude, along with his eye for the kind of things that need fixing.

He and those like him have nothing to fear from Hunter Harrison. May their tribe increase..."

I would second what dakotafred says!Thumbs Up

Many of us here cheer for the continuance of CPR, and wish it nothing but well. Some of the aspects of Who/What CPR is currently, are children of the Political Climate of Canada, and I would not even try to comment on that. My guess is that, as stated, there are plenty of Railroaders in the trenches at CPR that are cheering for exactly the things that cptrainman has outlined.

My take is that many of the problems are systemic, and rooted in previous management agendas. And only those that were privy to what was happening during those regimes would be qualified to speak on those issues. It would, bu my guess be on heck of a book. Whistling

And the final idea of a merger with KCS RR ( and its organization), is pretty interesting IMHO.  Tying all that together would be quite a task ( would probably have ole Arthur Stillwell, sitting up, and cheering!Hmm   But once it got up and running, my guess it would be quite a powerhouse of an operation. 

Sure is an interesting idea to contemplate!My 2 Cents

Sam

 

 


 

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