NITL VOTE ON STAGGERS REVISION CONTINUES TO PUZZLE SOME SHIPPERS

NITL VOTE ON STAGGERS REVISION CONTINUES TO PUZZLE SOME SHIPPERS

A recent vote by the National Industrial Transportation League to broaden proposed revisions in the Staggers Rail Act continues to baffle some shippers.

At a meeting here of the National Association of Rail Shippers, talk quickly turned from the agenda to the league's controversial vote that Staggers should be revised beyond competitive access changes that are sought by many shippers.T.J. Fitzgerald, senior vice president of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, saidthe railroads weren't even asked to attend the league meeting in Chicago where the vote was taken.

And he asked whether the railroads should follow the lead of Adolph Coors Co., which withdrew from the league because of the vote.

Kent Barr, Coors' director of transportation operations, said: Our position is that what NITLeague has done steps away from what we essentially view as a commitment by NITLeague on its Staggers reform position taken earlier at its annual meeting.

The Coors' move should not be taken by anyone . . . that we encourage you to do likewise, he said.

We would hope that as a result of what's happened with this vote by the NITLeague that it would . . . awaken the silent majority and they would be more active, more vocal, more involved in the (public policy formation) process, he added.

He said 75 percent of Coors' volume moves by rail and we appreciate Staggers, and more than that we appreciate our railroad business partners.

We're not going to get it down without the railroads, he added, referring to the likelihood of passing legislation to amend the 1980 Staggers Rail Act.

Allen A. Housh, vice president at Cargill Inc., said, I'm troubled by the implication that a minority made the decision on behalf of NITLeague.

While Mr. Housh said he was not at the meeting, he said, everybody was aware that there was a meeting.

He said while some of the railroads may not have been aware of the meeting, they were involved in a task force panel to try to deal with the issues that NITLeague has had on access to competitive rail service by shippers and other matters, although those talks fell apart. I think there were good attempts to try to come together with some sense of reasonableness to assure (rail) competition, he said.

When pressed by Mr. Fitzgerald on what Cargill's position was, Mr. Housh said Cargill supports the moves by the Procompetitive Rail Steering Committee to focus on issues of rail access. That organization is a coalition of made up mostly of bulk shippers and companies that utilize privately owned railcars.