GREG JOHNSON - MANAGING TRAFFIC

GREG JOHNSON - MANAGING TRAFFIC

THE FALLOUT HAS LANDED from the National Industrial Transportation League's vote to support changes in the Staggers Act.

Adolph Coors Co. of Golden, Colo., has elected to pull out of the group over NITL's closed-door 83-44 vote in Chicago last week.It's the first time NITL, the nation's largest shippers' group, has said outright it supports changes in the Staggers Act beyond the issue of competitive access.

In a letter addressed to Jim Bartley, NITL's executive vice president, Coors said it cannot morally endorse the league's statement of concepts which seeks to re-regulate our rail carrier business partners.

Coors said, the league is being pushed in a direction in which we disagree and we are alarmed the league seeks to renege on a mutual commitment on Staggers and return to an earlier non-productive era.

The letter was signed by Lou E. Bonner, Coor's vice president, physical distribution; R. Kent Barr, the company's director of transportation, and Terry L. Priest, the brewery's manager of commerce, transportation and logistics.

We can't justify sending them (NITL) a couple thousand dollars a year when they take a position like that, Mr. Bonner says. Their statement of concepts is just a cover-up for support of the CURE bill.

Coors is not the only rail shipper peeved at the NITL action. It's kind of like one step forward and two backward, says another transport executive for a New England-based company. It's going to hurt the smaller shippers, he says.

Officials from companies, many of them members of the Association of Rail Shippers, say they believe NITL is too large and too diversified to reflect accurately the needs and concerns of the country's rail shippers.

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MEANWHILE, JIM BARTLEY, NITL's executive vice president,says the League's bold move is an attempt to get the fires re-started under legislative attempts to reform Staggers.

The group's move to ask for legislation on issues beyond competitive access, (which it has asked for in the past), delights the C.U.R.E. (for Consumers United for Rail Equity) folks, according to Robert G. Szabo, the group's executive director. We're delighted, he says.

The Agribusiness Shippers Group also says it supports NITL's new statement of concepts, not in every detail, but on the whole.

As can be expected, the Association of American Railroads isn't too enthused with NITL's move.

Mr. Bartley says any Staggers legislation could be affected by those recent discussions between CSX Corp. and rail labor unions.

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CANADIAN SHIPPERS have to be taking a long hard look at that new double- stack service being offered by Maersk Line and Norfolk Southern Corp. The weekly service involves shipments of containers arriving from the Far East at Tacoma, Wash., destined for Welland, Ontario. Welland is near Buffalo, N.Y., and near Toronto, Canada's major manufacturing and employment center.

Union Pacific Railroad handles the haul from Tacoma to Chicago and NS picks it up from there to Toronto. The Maersk/NS deal involves a trip of 2,600 miles, but only 50 miles of the route is in Canada.

Canadian National Railways and CP Rail long have howled they would lose millions in revenue to U.S. carriers on cross-continent shipments. And some Canadian shippers said they would go south of their border if the price was right.

U.S. carriers, on the other hand, said they would try to capture some Canadian shippers.

A spokesman for Canada's National Transportation Agency, which has replaced the country's Canadian Transport Commission, says the Maesrk/NS deal was not unexpected. No alarm bells have gone off yet, he says.

Under Canadian rail deregulation, Canadian railroads can request joint running rights over each other's tracks. But that provision also gives U.S. carriers joint running rights in Canada if they interchange with Canadian railroads.

Canadian shippers however, can't be entirely blamed if they choose U.S. carriers. Canadian railroads haven't been exactly racing to embrace double- stack movements.