SANTA FE SCUTTLEBUTT: Despite all the public talk about getting the Interstate Commerce Commission to overturn its decision vetoing the proposed merger of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads, indications are that the confrontation will not take place.
There is more and more private talk that the company will move to sell off chunks of the SP - and possibly parts of the Santa Fe - to resolve competitive problems the agency apparently has with the merger. The move to seek reconsideration of the merger is aimed more at gaining time to get the deals
put together rather than to get the decision overturned.The fact that SF-SP officials recently met with Illinois Central Gulf railroad officials for a briefing on how to put together feeder line deals adds credence to the report.
LIDDY LEAVING? Washington lobbyists are abuzz with rumors that Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Hanford Dole will quit her post early next year when her husband, Senate majority leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., announces his candidacy for the 1988 GOP presidential nomination. Whether the rumor is based on fact or a reading of past history - specifically in 1980 when Mrs. Dole left her post at the Federal Trade Commission for Sen. Dole's last run at the presidency - is unclear. Whether it will happen this way we have absolutely no idea, but if it does, you read it here first.
BUMPING ALONG: There's a move afoot to force airlines to compensate travelers forced to alter their plans because a plane has been overbooked.
A recent survey by the Arlington, Va.-based International Foundation of Airline Passengers Association reveals that a vast majority of European travelers favor an industrywide system for compensating passengers who volunteer to give up their seat.
Though the plans may vary, they all should offer the option of rerouting by the next available flight, regardless of airline, reimbursement of direct expenses and compensation of at least 25 percent of ticket price, the foundation suggested.
TRUCK NOTES: While the Civil War pitted brother against brother, trucking deregulation may wind up officer against officer. Ray O'Brien, president and chief executive officer of Consolidated Freightways, recently made a speech praising deregulation and better inventory and information management, which he said has knocked $50 billion off distribution costs since 1981.
Such high marks normally would lead one to conclude that CF will vote in favor of deregulation when it comes up before the American Trucking Associations special committee to study the matter.
Guess again. CF's representative at the conference will be Gene West, a senior vice president, who has had little good to say about either deregulation or the possibility of scrapping the industry's antitrust immunity permitting companies to meet and set freight rates.
BREAKDOWN IN TRUCKS: The heavy-duty truck business has always seemed like a gentlemen's club where no one member would ever dream of saying anything bad about any other. That was until last week.
The old code seems to have broken down with the news that General Motors Corp. is easing out of the heavy-duty truck business. Now everybody in the business is starting to talk about who will be the next to go. No one wants to be quoted, but the question marks are beginning to swarm around another vertically integrated biggie like GM.
Like the trucks themselves, the industry has been slow to get rolling with the shakeout that has been predicted for so long. Now that it's started, industry-watchers are holding onto their seats.
HANDS ON: Randy Marten, president of Marten Transport Inc. - a Mondovi, Wis., carrier that made a public offering last week - clearly has not lost the common touch even though the company has joined the Wall Street set.
When a reporter tried to reach Mr. Marten about the offering, he was working in the dispatch office, filling in for a vacationing employee.
SUMMER NOTES: It's August in Washington and while Congressmen are out on the hustings, staffers are on vacation. One Republican staffer is sightseeing in London and Ireland while her minority counterpart is lolling on Virginia Beach.
Life isn't so nice for House Energy and Commerce Committee staffers, who are sweltering in House office buildings attempting to come up with legislation permitting the transfer of Conrail to the private sector now that Norfolk Southern has withdrawn its bid for the railroad.
But our Golden Safari Award goes to Federal Railroad Administrator John Riley who - with wife Kathy - is traveling in Africa. No word yet if they've run into Redford and Streep.