CSX Weekly Roundup

Now that the Tampa Tribune has concentrated their CSX reporting to a reporter based outside Polk County, we’re dependent on the Ledger. I’d still like to see the area newspaper use a single reporter as the point person on the story, but I understand the dynamics of that choice. I may believe one reporter could follow the story and still be used to cover other news, but it is an editor’s call.

The two Ledger reporters who covered this week’s CSX related stories did a very good job:

Longtime CSX opposition leader the Downtown Lakeland Partnership on Thursday outlined its plan to call for legislative review and accountability for the rail plan that would shift freight traffic to tracks that bisect the heart of the city. — Eva Kis, Downtown Lakeland Maps Fight Against CSX

The Development of Regional Impact review for the proposed CSX rail freight terminal, if it holds to past DRIs, could take anywhere from eight months to 3 1/2 years, members of the CSX Task Force and Community Stakeholders learned Friday afternoon. — Bill Rufty, CSX Plan Review May Take Some Time

Outside Polk County. CSX was defending itself against criticism leveled by a major investor in the company,

Over in Tampa, the Tribune editorial board met with some CSX officials. In Relegating Public To Caboose Derails Confidence In CSX, the board used strong language to characterize how many feel about the railroad company, “Plainly put, people in this community find CSX to be an arrogant, dictatorial and enormously frustrating company to deal with. It exudes a culture of secrecy and issues half-truths that hurt its credibility.”

I was recently forwarded a couple of telling emails that spoke to such secrecy. In one, Florida Department of Transportation District Rail Administrator Arlene Barnes asks, “In the past several months (and as recently as this past week) rumors and newspaper articles have mentioned the CSX ILC in our District and that contacts have been made with FDOT, etc. No one in our District has been contacted about this and I am being constantly asked ‘what is going on’.”

That was early August 2006. Why did it take six months for the District Rail Administrator to contact the main office? Why didn’t the main FDOT contact the district office?

If you can find anyone who suggests this was a well-planned project, ask them who did the planning and when.

The newspaper in Orlando is a cheerleader for this project. The NIMBY slant is evident in their reporting and editorials.

Back in July, Orlando and Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties all voted to kick in their share for the $615 million system, but negotiations between the state and CSX slowed with a legal debate over liability issues. — Orlando Sentinel

What county is not mentioned? Oh yes, Polk County. The one that gets the ILC. Why couldn’t Orlando, or Orange, Osceola, Seminole or Volusia get the “mother of all rail yards” in their own backyard? After all, they’re getting all the benefits of the project.

Someone at a meeting asked what CSX stood for. Ignoring the obvious jokes, I’ll give you this paragraph from Wikipedia:

The name came about during merger talks between Chessie System, Inc. and Seaboard System Railroad, Inc., commonly called Chessie and Seaboard. The company chairmen said it was important for the new name to include neither of those names due to it being a partnership. Employees were asked for suggestions, most of which consisted of combinations of the initials. At the same time a temporary shorthand name was needed for discussions with the Interstate Commerce Commission. CSC was chosen but belonged to a trucking company in Virginia. CSM (for Chessie-Seaboard Merger) was also taken. The lawyers decided to use CSX, and the name stuck. In the public announcement, it was said that “CSX is singularly appropriate. C can stand for Chessie, S for Seaboard, and X, the multiplication symbol, means that together we are so much more, and T for Transportation.” The T had to be added to use CSXT as a reporting mark, since company initials that end in X could only be used by non-railroad railcar owners.