Shipment routings, shorthand for what railroads handle a shipment and where it is interchanged between the participating carriers, is far more important to the Delaware & Hudson Railway than for other railroads.

Unlike most other carriers that are assured of a good number of plants located on their lines the D&H is a bridge carrier that is almost totally dependent on traffic it receives from other carriers.This has put it at a competitive disadvantage in the new rail regulatory environment that makes length of haul a key factor in determining freight revenue.

Shippers have traditionally jealously guarded their right to route traffic, Fred M. Zito, manager, US distribution operations, for International Paper Co., told The Journal of Commerce.

Two recent trends, he said, are accelerating this.

Routing options determine how much price competition there is between railroads Mr. Zito said.

"If you have only one route there is no price competition," he added.

"Negotiating competitive service is just as important as negotiating competitive prices," Mr. Zito said.

Quality improvement pressure is getting quite important, he said, and every major company is trying to improve the service and products they provide their customers.

"I just came from a meeting where our major customers are involved in quality improvement process and consistency of transportation service is a real problem," Mr. Zito said.

"Only competition drives people or companies to greater efficiency," he added.