Conrail's president, Richard D. Sanborn, met the press for the first time in his new capacity Wednesday and said much of his time will be spent fine tuning the work of the L. Stanley Crane, who will soon retire as the company's chairman.

Mr. Sanborn was named president and chief operating officer on Feb. 29, and is scheduled to replace Mr. Crane as chairman and chief executive officer on Jan. 1, when Mr. Crane retires.Mr. Sanborn said he is taking over a railroad that is in superb shape, and promptly launched into an attack on the current effort in Washington to modify the Staggers Rail Act, which deregulated much of the industry in 1980.

He said Conrail is most concerned about parts of the proposed revision that shift to the railroad the burden of proof for rate increases; that would

allow access of railroads to other railroads' facilities and that would force railroads to refund to shippers gains made by increasing rail productivity.

The general tone of Mr. Sanborn's remarks indicated that Conrail will continue to follow the same general course set by Mr. Crane.

One major assignment (for him at Conrail) is to expand our markets, by increasing intermodal efforts. However, Mr. Sanborn indicated the company won't seek to purchase trucking companies in order to boost that market.

He said agreements can be forged with truckers to accomplish the same goals as purchasing them can bring.

Mr. Sanborn said intermodal operations are not up to our expectations, but are running well ahead of last year's levels.

He said RoadRailer operations are under active study on a couple of lanes.

However, Mr. Crane added that the high cost of the equipment, which allows piggyback traffic to move off the rails without cranes, is slowing the growth of the service.

Nobody's proven it's economic, Mr. Crane said.

Mr. Sanborn said he expects Conrail will have 1,000 fewer employees at the end of 1988 than the 31,000 it has today. He said the cuts, which would come

from across the railroad, would mostly result from attrition.

He said company officials have not decided whether to join the national bargaining over new contract terms that is expected to begin soon. Industry expectations are that Conrail will join.

Mr. Sanborn indicated the company was not enthusiastic about what may turn out to be a cornerstone to this year's industry negotiations: gain-sharing, which is CSX Rail's term for giving labor back some of the money saved through job concessions.

He said, There has really been a gain-sharing process going on at Conrail, since the company's unions granted concessions to help the ailing railroads the federal government consolidated into Conrail.

Conrail went public in March, 1987, after 11 years of government ownership.