The Interstate Commerce Commission said yesterday it faovors the "restructuring and rationalization of the nation's rail system through a series of private industry initiatives, rather than through active government intervention."
The policy statement lists what the commission believes are the most significant considerations in any proposed merger in the industry. The public is being asked to comment to the statement, which is the result of a year-long study, which included several days of discussing with industry, consumer and shipper representatives.
Meanwhile, two financially troubled Midwestern railroads received word that they would be getting federal aid for repair work and capital expanditures.
The Federal Railroad Adminstration tentatively approved loan guarantees of $32 million yesterday to the Rock Island Railroad to be used for the repair of 3,000 freight cars and the acquisition as well as improvements to car shops.
In Chicago, a federal judge approved a request from the Milwaukee Road's trustee that would allow that railroad to issue $5.1 million in trustee certificates, guaranteed by the government, to provide cash and working capital for railroad repairs and upgrading.
The ICC statement evidences a trend toward making the railroad industry nurse itself back to financial health with as little government intervention as possible.
"It's a statement saying that we don't feel it's time for a government restructuring of the rail industry," said ICC official Dick Schiefelbein.