Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Old and new Conrail, and the Paulsboro wreck

My railroad is gone, says retiree

Old and new Conrail, and the Paulsboro wreck

Frank Lynn, a former executive of the former Philadelphia-based railroad Conrail, successor to the Pennsylvania Railroad and many other Northeastern freight haulers, writes from Garnet Valley "to try to set straight the use of the word 'Conrail'" in last week's coverage of the Paulsboro train wreck.

"I worked there 23 years in Finance, Marketing, and Treasury and left as Chief Investment Officer in 2002. As you well know, Conrail was bought by the CSX (Jacksonville, Fl) and Norfolk Southern (Norfolk, VA) railroads back in (the late 1990s) and split between them 58/42.

"For various reasons, the acquiring companies did not (could not?) negotiate a split of the operations in Philly, NJ, and Detroit. They created an entity they called “Conrail Shared Assets”," the current operator of the Paulsboro track and other yards and locations."

The current Conrail uses Conrail's old address at 1717 Arch St., the blue concentric part-circles logo, and other Conrail markers. Read more about today's Conrail here.

But, Lynn insists, "this entity has no corporate nor legal connection to the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) which ceased to exist more than 12 years ago.

"The current “operator” of these subject freight lines is Conrail in name only. The owner and operator of the former Conrail routes, tracks, facilities, equipment, rolling stock, and supporting infrastructure are CSX Corp and Norfolk Southern Corp.

"Those of us who spent so many good years at Conrail as hard-working, dedicated employees have nothing but fond memories of our experience and the friendships nurtured there. Hearing the name Conrail loosely bandied about recently is a disservice to the legacy of a terrific organization. We had a saying back in the mid ‘80’s that went 'Let Conrail be Conrail'. (It was our way of expressing to the feds (U.S. Department of Transportation) that Conrail should be sold via an IPO" instead of split by its rivals in a deal that raised more than $10 billion for shareholders.

"The Conrail of today is not the Conrail of yesterday. Maybe you could enlighten your colleagues and associates in the local media as well."

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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