Senate confirms CSX's Snow as treasury secretary

Former CSX railroad executive John Snow was sworn in on January 30 as the nation's 73rd treasury secretary, and he has his work cut out for him: Trying to steer the wobbly U.S. economy back onto firmer footing.

One of Snow's first major jobs will be selling President Bush's $695 billion tax-cut plan, aimed at energizing the $10.5 trillion economy. The proposal was included in the $2.23 trillion budget for 2004 that Bush sent to Congress.

Snow has pledged to sell his extensive stock holdings in CSX Corp. and 60 other companies and put his money in diversified mutual funds. He has 90 days from his confirmation on Jan. 30 to do so. Snow has said he would recuse himself from participating in any decisions involving CSX while at Treasury, and would forego a lucrative severance package estimated at up to $15 million.

Snow, the head of railroad giant CSX for the past 14 years, was picked by Bush in December to replace Paul O'Neill after the president decided to shake up his economic team in an effort to find more effective salesmen for his new economic stimulus package.

New CSX CEO will seek to boost use of remote control

CSX Corp.'s board of directors named President Michael J. Ward to succeed John W. Snow as chairman and chief executive, replacing a man steeped in the ways of government and politics with a lifelong railroad man.

Snow had tapped Ward as his successor and the board's vote formally ratified a decision made weeks ago.

Ward, 52, is a Baltimore native who received an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland in 1972 and a master's degree in business administration from Harvard in 1976. He has spent his entire career of nearly 26 years with the railroad, unlike Snow, who had a career in law and government before being tapped as a CSX vice president in 1977.

Ward is expected to move CSX's corporate headquarters from Richmond to the current railroad headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla.

Ward said CSX will spend about $1 billion a year to continue improving CSX's track structure. The Federal Railroad Administration twice issued special reports in the late 1990s harshly criticizing CSX's track maintenance and safety record.

Ward told the Washington Post that he has effectively been in charge of the railroad since April 11, 2000, when he was named executive vice president of operations. He also told the Post that he wants to make greater use of computers aboard trains and remote-control switching.

N.Y. approves big tax breaks for railroads

New York Gov. George Pataki approved legislation slashing railroad property taxes by 45 percent.

Approval of the legislation removes a roadblock to completion of a new rail line that is considered critical to implementing high-speed passenger rail service on the Empire Corridor.

The legislation reduces railroad property taxes by about 45 percent by changing the way the property is taxed. It also exempts railroad capital improvements from local taxation for 10 years.

To compensate for revenue lost to local governments and school districts, the bill requires the state to set aside $70 million to be paid out to these entities over a 10-year period. Local governments will get $4.7 million in 2003 to 2004.

CSX and Norfolk Southern will benefit from they law. Both praised the decision, saying it would spark increased investment in the state.

DM&E wins full control of I&M

The Surface Transportation Board approved the last regulatory footnote to the purchase of the Iowa-based I&M Rail Link by the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad (DM&E).

By a unanimous vote, the three-member STB agreed to give full management control over both railroads to a DM&E holding company, Cedar American Rail Holding, Inc. The line is now named Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (IC&E). It runs through Austin.

The board's staff advised that the two railroads do not overlap and that no competition would be stifled by the merger.

The 1,100 mile DM&E is based in Sioux Falls, S.D., and is working toward a $1.5 billion expansion and upgrade that would let it tap into the coal-rich Powder River Basin of Wyoming.

That expansion plan, which won a green light from the STB last year, is being fought in court by western landowners, the Sierra Club, and the city of Rochester.

Separately, the STB last summer approved the purchase of the I&M pending approval of the ownership structure. The I&M is a Midwest shipper - primarily of grain - based in Davenport, Iowa. It controls 1,400 miles of track.

The DM&E purchased the I&M through a subsidiary, the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corp.


© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers