Frank N. Wilner, Contributing Editor

Frank N. Wilner, Contributing Editor

Frank N. Wilner is author of six books, including, Amtrak: Past, Present, Future; Understanding the Railway Labor Act; and, Railroad Mergers: History, Analysis, Insight. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics and labor relations from Virginia Tech. He has been assistant vice president, policy, for the Association of American Railroads; a White House appointed chief of staff at the Surface Transportation Board; and director of public relations for the United Transportation Union. He is a past president of the Association of Transportation Law Professionals. Wilner drafted the railroad section of the Heritage Foundation’s Mandate for Change (Volumes I and II), which were policy blueprints for the two Reagan Administrations; and was a guest columnist for the Cato Institute’s Regulation magazine.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 06:28

Holy Christie: Tunnels, gridlock; now NJT

Former late-night talk show host David Letterman often said, “I wouldn’t give those troubles to a monkey on a rock.” Tag, you’re it, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Friday, 12 February 2016 12:25

The year ahead in Washington

Washington is a rat hole worth watching because, as the politically savvy know, lawmakers and regulators can inflict unexpected, unprovoked and unjustified wounds.

News item: Canadian Pacific (CP) is pursuing a hostile takeover of Norfolk Southern (NS). CP is asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether NS and other U.S.-based major railroads—some of which oppose the takeover—are unlawfully conspiring for “the primary purpose of restraining trade.” CP says “fear of competition does not justify the collective action of competitors.” Yet the Supreme Court long ago ruled that “joint efforts to influence public officials, such as railroad regulators, do not violate the antitrust laws even though intended to eliminate competition.”

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:19

Show us the letters, STB

On January 5, 2016, Reuters published a story containing excerpts of letters reportedly sent to the Surface Transportation Board by industry groups representing several major Norfolk Southern freight customers. The letters ask the STB to reject a merger of Canadian Pacific and NS, should a merger application be filed. We contacted the STB for copies of those letters and came up empty.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015 20:02

Centrist approach may quiet STB debate

The critical takeaway from enactment in December of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act, S.808, is that, absent headline-capturing abuse of captive shippers by railroads, it is unlikely Congress will refocus anytime soon on diluting railroad market power.

Monday, 30 November 2015 02:17

CP-NS: Voting trust and other conundrums

Levitation takes two forms among railroads—magnetic levitation relating to futuristic high-speed passenger transport, and stock levitation associated with bidding wars for asset control.

Monday, 16 November 2015 23:30

CP-NS transcon a craps table roll

Few obstacles bedevil railroads as has the Mississippi River. Spanning it was the nation’s first rail bridge in 1856—promptly assaulted by steamboat Effie Afton. While the bridge was repaired and more constructed, the river remains a problematic divide, separating, with few exceptions, eastern railroads from those operating in the West and producing grueling interchange bottlenecks at Chicago.

Monday, 19 October 2015 06:25

STB: Speak to improve the silence

Imagine sharing with two equally qualified colleagues the decision-making authority affecting long-term railroad service quality, profitability and capital investment. Such is the power of the three Senate-confirmed members of the STB—Chairman Dan Elliott and Deb Miller, both Democrats; and Republican Ann Begeman.

Thursday, 03 September 2015 15:48

No fingerprints on NEC track grab

Here’s a mystery for you, but don’t anticipate—as in the board game, “Clue”—that it’s “Col. Mustard, in the library, with a candlestick.” The perp here is the U.S. Senate—the deed done under the Capitol Dome and with a pen (okay, a word processor).

Tuesday, 11 August 2015 15:00

PTC: It’s the deadline, stupid

Syntax-challenged George W. Bush was bang-on correct in saying, “You got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in.” So it is with Positive Train Control (PTC)—a $14 billion safety overlay utilizing computers, transponders and GPS to stop or slow a train automatically before certain types of accidents occur.

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