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Changes Advised for Conrail Routes

May 22, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two railroads seeking to carve up Conrail routes should be required first to make safety improvements at crossings in eight states, federal regulatory analysts said Friday.

The Surface Transportation Board’s Section of Environmental Analysis recommended the safety changes at road or highway crossings on more than 40 rail lines after reviewing how the Conrail transaction might change rail traffic patterns.

Those recommendations, affecting Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, still must be approved by the full board at its June 8 meeting. Regulators will also decide then whether to allow the transaction to proceed.

Analysts also recommended several other steps, affecting communities in at least 16 states, to address safety problems, noise and other impacts from a $10 billion proposal by CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. to buy and divide up Philadelphia-based Conrail.

The deal would give CSX and Norfolk Southern, both based in Virginia, control of nearly 45,000 miles of tracks from Montreal to Miami and from Boston to Kansas City _ virtually all rail traffic in the East.

Officials with CSX and Norfolk Southern said they were reviewing the analysts’ recommendations and had no immediate comment.

The regulatory analysts, in a 3,000-page report, found that the proposed merger would produce some benefits, including reduced air pollution, reduced energy consumption and reduced likelihood of rail accidents involving hazardous materials.

But the merger also would increase safety risks, traffic delays and noise in some areas, the report said. The impact would fall disproportionately on some minority and low-income populations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the board’s analysts found.

Other states affected by the recommended measures include Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

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