TIME FOR RAILROADS TO MAKE GOOD ON THEIR PROMISES

TIME FOR RAILROADS TO MAKE GOOD ON THEIR PROMISES

When I first saw the article on a speech to Wall Street investors given by CSX's chairman, John Snow (CSX chairman sees ''a seller's market,'' Jan. 31, Page 1), I laughed at the title, thinking that it must be a bit sarcastic.

After reading further, my laughter turned to disgust. Now, a day later, as I write down these opinions of mine, I still have an awful feeling inside.Opponents of the rail mergers saw this coming. Most first-year business students could tell you that this was coming. How come President Clinton, the Surface Transportation Board, Congress, and every other supporter of rail consolidation didn't see this coming? How could we as a nation, well versed in the catastrope of monopolies, allow this to happen?

Are we to believe that the CSX chairman is seeing for the first time that the railroads are ''moving from a buyer's market to a seller's market''?

CSX's Mr. Snow discussed his belief that ''railroads now could win rate increases that they had been unable to get in the past.'' One of the countless problems with that statement is that it really isn't a ''win.'' The statement should have been ''railroads now could demand rate increases, since there is no competition left.''

Mr. Snow, who are you kidding? I retract that. It seems that you clearly succeeded in getting the Clinton administration, the STB, Congress, and the various shippers to believe that a consolidated railroad would bring efficiencies and lower costs.

I can only imagine the power the railroads feel right now. This must have been the easiest speech a railroad executive ever made to Wall Street! Watch out, shippers.

Are we Americans to stand for CSX and the ''other major railroads'' (of which there are three) actually scaling back capital improvements, while in the same speech Mr. Snow tells of a situation where his railroad ''was incapable of handling the traffic'' it already had?

What's wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, we should see some benefits to the consolidation. Instead, all we see, feel and hear are negatives. Big ones. Negatives, that is, unless of course you are a railroad executive, stockholder, or Wall Street. But isn't that always the case?

Mr. Snow, spend the money we pay your railroad in revenues to make the improvements you and the other guys in ''the club'' promised.

Mr. Snow, show us the savings you promised in every public forum that you and the other guys held in trying to get your monopolies approved.

On our end - that of the shippers and all Americans who are being abused - hopefully we can get some serious regulation, and fast.

Congress, help us! Journalists, help us!

JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Philadelphia

FUNCTION OF MSP IS TO ENSURE AVAILABILITY OF SEAFARERS, SHIPS

Congratulations on the JOC's Review & Outlook Special Millennium Issue (Jan. 18), with over half of it devoted to maritime.

However, the article ''U.S.-flag subsidies: What happens after 2007?'' (Page 48) states the Maritime Security Program terminates in the year 2007. Actually the MSP terminates on Sept. 30, 2005, under the terms of Public Law 104-239, Subtitle B.

The article also states, ''But the Sea-Land deal leaves 31 of the 47 ships in the subsidy program operated by U.S.-based management companies for the ultimate benefit of foreign companies.'' This is a misconception.

The Maritime Security Program's primary mission is to have U.S.-flag vessels and their crews available in times of national emergency or involvement in similar straits.

President Clinton, on signing the legislation, made it clear the primary function of the program is to have available trained crews to man not only the active vessels but the vessels in the Ready Reserve Fleet and those Military Sealift Command vessels on Reduced Operating Status.

CAPT. WARREN G. LEBACK

Chinook Marine Corp. Princeton, N.J.

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