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Disappearing railroad blues

Brief by Central Staff

Transportation – September 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

You want the big story on the UP-SP merger and its effect on the Mountain West? Don’t look for it in Colorado Central, even though we have close connections with the guy who wrote it, Ed Quillen.

Quillen’s piece, “Disappearing Railroad Blues,” appeared in the Aug. 5, 1996, edition of High Country News, “A Paper for People who care about the West.” Quillen wrote it for HCN for two reasons:

1) It’s an issue that concerns the entire West, not just Central Colorado, and

2) HCN pays a lot more than CC does.

HCN will send a free sample copy on request (we can’t guarantee you’ll get this one, but you might ask) if you drop them a note at P.O. Box 1090, Paonia CO 81428. Subscriptions are $28 per year, and single copies are $1.50 plus postage and handling.

You can also check out the full contents of HCN on the World Wide Web at, and the phone number is 970-527-4898. The only place we’ve seen it on the news stand is at Creekside Books in Buena Vista.

Another frequent Colorado Central contributor, George Sibley, wrote the lead story for the July 22 edition of HCN, about last spring’s “controlled floods” in Glen Canyon. And Hal Walter just advised us that he sold HCN an essay comparing burros and llamas.

So, if you enjoy Colorado Central, you’ll probably enjoy HCN. In our unbiased and objective view, it’s the second publication you should subscribe to.

As for the merger, what does it mean besides the likely abandonment of the Tennessee Pass line?

Perhaps the eventual abandonment of the Moffat Tunnel line, leaving Colorado without any east-west route. UP will want to shift through traffic to easier routes across Wyoming and New Mexico. Local traffic is mostly coal, and if UP changes SP’s aggressive pricing, Colorado and Utah mines will no longer be competitive. They’ll close, and the rails will come out.

Merger also means that 90% of the rail traffic in the West will be carried by UP or BNSF. The Anti-Trust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice estimates the merger will cost consumers and shippers $800 million a year on account of lost competition.