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April 2018 article "Untangling Texas" by R.D. Krebs

  • A friend passed this issue on to me because of this article.  I was a 37 year veteran of the Southern Pacific until I retired to get away from the Union Pacific Management Team. 

    After reading Mr Krebs account of the T&L Lines railroad and its woes, I cannot wonder just how many bruises Mr Krebs has from patting himself on the back.  He is certainly a wonder boy bar none with that railroad.  However he failed to continue in telling the story on how he bankrupt the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The blame for sending a 132 year old railroad into the trash heap rested squarely on his shoulders. 

    He totally mismanaged everything to get the SPRR into Chicago so he could "play" with the 'Big Boys'.  When the article came out in the SP Bulletin, "We Finally Made It", it was just a matter of months before  everything went south and the ATSF bought the SPRR.  I was working in One Market then when the hoard of Santa Fe officials came swarming into the building and started telling us "HOW" things were going to be done.  But the Feds stepped in and said, 'whoa boys, not so fast'.  So the Santa Fe raped the SPRR of most of its Land Holdings and spit out what was left to Phil Anschutz.  Phil was ecstatic about his new toy and couldn't wait to put his locomotives on the point of SP trains.  Yes, I was still at One Market and dumbfounded over these happenings.  Then. Phil kept more SPRR land and sold the sold the railroad to the Union Pacific and threw himself on to the Board.  More money, more money, more money. So now, the hoard of Union Pacific officers come storming into the building to tell us "HOW" things will be run. 

    During Mr Krebs wonder years of the 1980's at resolving the T&L Lines woes, I worked at One Market in the Mechanical Dept.  Once a week the whole 10th floor Managers had a 'Round-table Conference' with the Chief Mechanical Officer.  The man was pulling out his hair over the lack of working locomotives, a lack of locomotives, period, and NO MONEY to spend to maintain the SP Fleet.  Where was this money.  It was being drained by the millions in buying up shortline railroads to get to Chicago. Yes, Mr Krebs was shopping like he was at Costco. 

    So the SP was given the okay to start leasing foreign line locomotives, and this wasn't cheap.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of locomotives on a per diem basis.  Plus as before, no extra money was given to the Mechanical Dept to maintain these foreigners.  So they were moved D.I.T. back to destination of that Road when maintenance was due.  Yes, this was Mr Krebs doing as well.   

    And what was happening to the employees.  Many moved to the ATSF headquarters, the DRGW headquarters and to the UPRR headquarters in Omaha as the time moved on. Train crews were let go and many took the buyout if they had the Seniority.  Many reverted back to Seniority, as I did and many were just let go.  What happened to Mr Krebs. As per the article, he was the President of the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads and CEO of the latter two companies. So he was rewarded for destroying a wonderful Company while thousands lost their jobs in all Crafts.  

    And yet Mr Krebs patted himself on the back in that whole article about the T&L railroad and how he saved Houston.  To the employees of the gone Southern Pacific Railroad, he is a hated and despised person.  He should be ashamed of himself along with his Board of Directors for destroying a well loved railroad. 


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  • Thanks for sharing that. I never knew what happened to the Southern Pacific Railroad. I was recently talking to one of the old-timers about the SP railroad and their maintenance issues. In our shop, we manufacture sensors and force measurement Load Cells. This equipment is needed for the rails cars and locomotives for maintenance, as you know.