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Canadian Pacific Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison yesterday responded to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and several Illinois congressmen who earlier this week raised concerns about CP's proposed takeover of Norfolk Southern Corp.Durbin and some other members of Illinois' congressional delegation sent a letter Dec. 14 to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to express concerns about the proposed merger's potential economic impact on Chicago and the rest of the state.In his response, Harrison said he was surprised to read about the letter in the news media "as it would have been my pleasure to sit down with you and walk through the benefits of our proposal to Illinois and Chicago and to address concerns."Harrison said CP believes the merger would strengthen the freight-rail industry by making it more efficient and improving the rail network without new construction."Over the medium to long term, the strength of the network will be eroded unless we expand or find other innovative ways to grow," Harrison's letter stated. "If we are unable to grow through merger or through new construction — a near impossible feat in many locations like Chicago — we anticipate that the challenges of the winter of 2013/14 and the subsequent gridlock that ensued would become more frequent and impactful."In addressing the lawmakers' specific concerns, Harrison said that "improving Chicago is a key objective" of the merger. Among his other points: the merger would make Illinois shippers more competitive; modify terminal access and end the "bottleneck pricing approach"; and improve the environment via reduced fuel consumption. The full text of Harrison's letter can be read here.