South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings’ role in rail merger policy

By Frank N. Wilner, Capitol Hill Contributing Editor, Railway Age Magazine; April 8, 2019

Somewhat buried in history is that today’s railroad map is a product of behind-the-scenes actions by former Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Frederick (Fritz) Hollings (D-S.C.), who died April 6 at age 97. He was Commerce Committee Chairman 1987-1995 and 2001-2003, during years Democrats controlled the Senate. He left office in 2005.

Had Hollings’ protégé, Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and then Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Linda J. Morgan, not engineered in 2000 a 15-month moratorium on railroad mergers, scuttling a proposed BNSF and Canadian National (CN) marriage, the number of major railroads in North America may well have become two rather than the current seven—BNSF, CN, Canadian Pacific (CP), CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern (NS) and Union Pacific (UP).

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