A new look at Chicago

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Independent railroad analyst Anthony Hatch reports some interesting news came out of the RailTrends conference he put on last week in New York City, in conjunction with Progressive Railroading magazine. Tony says that BNSF Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway and unnamed others had created a Chicago Policy Study Committee of retired operating executives. The group is to report back early in 2015 with recommendations for improving traffic flow through (or maybe around) Chicago. Says Tony: “This would turn out to be a very big deal.”

Maybe, and maybe not. If Knight Kiplinger were to call me tonight to ask that I come in and help fix some nasty problems at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, where I labored more than two decades, I’d thank him and politely decline. I left the editor’s desk six years ago and would be no help now. That’s kind of how I feel about the CPSC.

Tony mentions three names: Art Shoener (Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern), Gordon Trafton (Canadian National) and Ed Harris (CN and CP). There are undoubtedly others. These are smart dudes. But do they still retain the intimate knowledge of what goes on in Chicago that will allow them to make recommendations the railroads haven’t already considered? One western railroad executive cautions me not to expect too much.

But consider these pluses: These men are beholden to nobody but themselves. Hatch says Hunter Harrison, the chief executive of CP, is enthusiastic about the idea, which is good because Hunter usually doesn’t play well with others. Any anything this informal group can do to help focus attention on the problems in Chicago and encourage the often-warring railroad CEOs to come together and do the right thing is to be applauded.

Good luck, guys!—Fred W. Frailey

Tags: Chicago
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