Re: New Monopoly in Dept Stores; Federated and May to Merge

Wes Leatherock wrote:

This seems to ignore the reality that the railroads are thriving > businesses today. Intercity bus services has been declining and many > cities are without any intercity bus service at all. The motor > freight business more and more is turning to the railroads to carrying > their long-haul freight in trailers or containers. J.B. Hunt, the > nation's largest trucking company, is one of the largest customers of > the railroads. I believe UPS is the largest single customer of the > railroads.

The few railroad companies that *survived* are currently doing well, though their business is now all freight and no passengers. (Not counting Amtrak here, since it is *not* doing well financially and is not exactly a traditional corporation either.)

However, most of the railroads that were around 50-60 years ago could not survive the brutal consolidation of the industry; they were liquidated or sold to competitors. Today's railroads collectively are a much smaller slice of the overall economy than were their prewar predecessors.

It looks like the telcos are going through the same sort of shakeout right now themselves. Eventually, there won't be a "telephone business" any more; there will just be a "communications business" within which voice will be one application (albeit still a popular one). It's already started with the landline telcos as customers like me drop their RBOC service and choose to funnel their voice traffic over their broadband connection. In a few years it's going to spread even to mobile telephony as technology advances and the wireless internet becomes ubiquitous.

Bob Goudreau Cary, NC

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I am wondering about a few passenger trains I have ridden in the past and wonder what they are doing now, if they are even still in business: Around 1970 or so, I went with a friend of mine from Chicago on the City of New Orleans to the Mardis Gras in New Orleans. We left about 4 in the afternoon and got into New Orleans about 9 the next morning. It was a wonderful train ride. Then, about 1950 or so I rode the train by myself (or actually with my cousin Ken, who is four years younger than myself). We took the Santa Fe train between Independence and Chicago. I do not remember much about that trip except that my grandmother fixed a *huge* sack of food for Ken and I to eat on the trip, and my grandfather gave each of us a silver dollar coin to use for our 'expenses' on the way. We landed at the Dearborn Station in Chicago about a day later, where my parents picked us up. I just barely remember three years before that, in 1947, when my mother and grandmother took me on the same Santa Fe train between Coffeyille and Chicago to meet my father and grandfather at Dearborn Station. They had already come to Chicago area to live, and we had gone there to live with them. I don't know why I just now remembered those train trips. I do remember at the time they were all quite elegant trains, and I do remember that when my younger cousin and I rode the train back to Chicago, the conductor gave us quite a tour through the entire train, including the area where newspapers and mail were conveyed. The train went very slow at one point and almost came to a halt; the conductor took a huge stack of newspapers which were tied up and handed them off the train to a man waiting next to the track with a car who grabbed up all the papers, put them in the car and drove away, then the train took up speed and off we went again. I doubt any of those things even exist any longer. PAT]
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Bob Goudreau
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