Industry News Briefs

Norfolk Southern to cut 2,000 jobs

NORFOLK, Va. -- Norfolk Southern Corp. will eliminate 1,000 to 2,000 jobs over the next year and dispose of 12,000 surplus freight cars to help reduce costs and improve financial performance amid a slowing economy, the company announced on January 23.

The moves are part of a restructuring in response to an economic slowdown and changes in transportation markets, said David R. Goode, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

The job reduction will be in addition to the layoffs and early retirements that affected 3,500 jobs last year and reduced the number of employees to 33,000, spokesman Frank Brown said. It was unclear whether the jobs will be eliminated through cuts, early retirements or a combination of methods, he said.

The company also plans to redesign its service network with help from the railroad consulting firm MultiModal Applied Systems; sell or abandon 3,000 to 4,000 underutilized or duplicate track miles, or about 10 percent of its total track miles, over the next two years; and consolidate or dispose of up to 10 underutilized or redundant support facilities, such as yards, shops or production facilities.


Two cities split maglev funding

WASHINGTON -- The race to build the nation's first magnetic levitation railroad has narrowed to projects proposed for Pittsburgh and the Washington-Baltimore area.

Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater announced the awards on January 18, selecting the projects from seven competing for the money. His successor, Norm Minetta, will pick the winner to receive millions of dollars in federal support.

The futuristic maglev trains can operate at up to 240 miles per hour.

Slater said the government will split $14 million between the two programs for environmental impact assessments and continued planning. The final winner could receive as much as $950 million in federal aid.

The cities of Baltimore and Washington are among eight U.S. cities bidding for the 2012 Olympic Games and local officials have hoped that landing the maglev project would enhance their chances.

The second project, organized by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pa., proposes a 45-mile line linking Pittsburgh International Airport to Pittsburgh and its eastern suburbs.

Slater said the aim is to demonstrate the technology that can become the backbone of transportation in the nation's most densely populated regions. Maglev can become a competitor for short haul airlines and highway commuting, he said.


CN plans $1.2 billion purchase of Wisconsin Central

MONTREAL -- Unsuccessful in its attempt to merge with a big U.S. railroad, Canadian National Railway is going after a smaller one. CN said on January 30 it has reached a deal with Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp. to acquire the railway for US$1.2 billion.

Last year, U.S. regulatory authorities rejected CN's plan to merge with the giant Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway and announced a moratorium on such major transport combinations.

CN said its board and that of Wisconsin Central have endorsed a merger in which CN would pay $17.15 US for each WC share. The takeover cost includes US$400 million in WC debt.

Under a 1998 agreement, WC already hauls CN freight between Superior and Chicago.

The transaction is expected to add modestly to CN's earnings in the first year after approval and increasingly thereafter.

CN Chief Executive Paul Tellier called the WC merger "a simple, straight forward, pro-competitive, end-to-end combination. Not a single 'two-to-one' point will arise in the U.S. as a result of the merger, and there will be no other significant adverse impacts on competition.

WC has 2,850 miles of track and trackage rights in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Ontario.


ILA, MM&P join Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) announced on January 16 that the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P) have become affiliated members of the TTD.

TTD was created in 1990 to advance a comprehensive transportation labor policy agenda for the several million union workers employed in aviation, rail, transit, trucking, highway, longshore and related industries.

With the two new affiliates, TTD's membership now includes 32 AFL-CIO unions that represent transportation workers in every transportation sector.

The ILA is the largest union of maritime workers in the United States, representing some 65,000 longshoremen.

The International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots represents 6,800 members.

The BLE welcomes these new Brothers and Sisters into the TTD.

2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers