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US Senator Charles E. Schumer today hosted a discussion of rail shipping problems with Surface Transportation Board Chair Linda Morgan, representatives of Norfolk Southern and CSX, local businesses and manufacturers who rely on rail service, US Representatives Jack Quinn and Tom Reynolds and Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski. Area businesses have been experiencing major delays in service since June, when Conrail was broken up by Norfolk Southern and CSX Corporation. The rail delays have proved devastating for many local companies and have put 25,000 jobs in jeopardy.

"Since Conrail was taken over by CSX and Norfolk Southern rail freight service has ranged from spotty to abysmal," said Schumer. "Chairperson Morgan's visit here today shows the seriousness of this problem, which is a calamity for area businesses. It is costing area companies money and it is making Buffalo less attractive as a manufacturing and shipping hub. And because Buffalo's and Western New York's economy relies so heavily on manufacturing and trade, poor rail service puts the entire economy in jeopardy."

Schumer visited Buffalo last month to tour a Norfolk Southern rail yard and to meet with local business leaders to discuss the rail delays. Following that meeting, Schumer urged Linda Morgan to visit Buffalo and to help foster rail competition in the city. Today, Schumer called upon Chairperson Morgan to study Buffalo's competitiveness in shipping.

"I am hoping that we can get a commitment from Chairperson Linda Morgan to set up a timetable with definite standards and benchmarks to assess whether Buffalo is competitive with other states and regions that rely on shipping," said Schumer. "If we are not meeting those standards then the Surface Transportation Board should quickly implement a solution possibly a shared assets area or some other solution to ensure competitiveness and to hold the rail companies' feet to the fire."

In the past several weeks, Schumer has also held meetings with John Snow, the CEO and President of CSX Corporation, and David Goode, the CEO and President of Norfolk Southern Corporation. As a result of these meetings, both Snowe and Goode agreed to set up hotlines to address consumer complaints and to work to address the CP Draw bridge issue. In addition, Norfolk Southern promised to invest $15 million in the Bison Rail Yard in an effort to ease delays.

"I have met with both David Goode and John Snow about setting up a hotline so that companies can find their lost or missing or delayed shipments when they fail to arrive at the rail yard," said Schumer. "I am encouraged by their cooperation and eagerness to help, but we know that a hotline helps solve one short term problem, but is not nearly enough."

"The bottom line is that rail freight service has to improve," said Schumer.

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