More On The NOPB Saga

by Jim on 2011/04/14

(This post is likely to only interest whoadies and foamers.  If you’re neither a whoadie nor a foamer, you may just want to scroll through, look at the pictures, and then exit.)

Greetings, dear Jimbauxlings.  Perhaps y’all will remember this post about two weeks ago when I gave my own take on the situation with the New Orleans Public Belt Railway.  In response to that post and the NOLA Post article linked there, I received this e-mail from someone who works in the railroad industry in New Orleans and who does business with the NOPB:

Thanks for all you have written regarding the NOPB railroad. The few disgruntled employees there have caused chaos that will eventually cause that railroad to be taken over and they all loose their jobs. Some folks just don’t know how good they have it and they really have the perfect railroad job.

Wow!  What he wrote there went towards confirming what I had suspected all along, that the situation with former general manager Jim Bridger was brought to light by some disgruntled employees and that, even if Bridger did some bad things (and he did), much of this was much to do about nothing (even if there were legitimate criticisms), and it’s partly a result of that age-old adversarial relationship that exists between labor and management in the railroad industry, much like other industries with organized labor.

As the person who wrote the above message realizes, if a major railroad takes over the NOPB, as is likely to happen, not only will some of the employees lose their jobs, but those that remain will be under much stricter work rules than those under which they work now.  Other local railroaders have told me this before.

Part of the big issue with Bridger was the use of some restored vintage passenger cars, as seen in the below picture taken in late 2008.

The bridge looks plenty different now with the new superstructure housings!

Why Didn’t Anyone Care Before?

What I find most amusing about this (and gave me reason to suspect that disgruntled employees started this) is that even though the story ‘broke’ this past summer, a year before that, WWL Channel 4 did a segment on the business cars going up and down the bridge, but nobody seemed to give a damn then!  Why not?  Why were there no questions asked about the legitimacy of the cars’ use then?  This is an interesting lesson in herd mentality and how media actually influence public opinion, not just inform it (an issue that is definitely not just limited to FoxNews.)  Channel 4 ran a story on the business trains going up and down the bridge, and nobody then asked any questions about the spending on the cars, whether they should be used that way, etc.

Anyway, here is a picture of Bridger toward the end of  a party for former Kansas City Southern Railway executive and lieutenant governor of Louisiana Jimmy Fitzmorris.

Bridger was criticized for chasing away the business of the BNSF Railway, the NOPB’s biggest customer since BNSF entered the New Orleans gateway in 1995 after the merger between the Union Pacific Railway and the Southern Pacific Railway necessitated BNSF’s entry.

Small Success After Big Failure

In November 2009, shortly after the above picture was taken, Bridger succeeded in getting the Union Pacific Railway to send as many as four of its eastbound, CSX-bound trains daily via the NOPB.  However, since the NOPB does nothing (no switching or servicing) to these trains, the revenue from these moves does not compensate for the lost revenue from BNSF.

Below, just a few weeks after UP’s trains stared using the NOPB (with NOPB crews), UP train ILBNO (Intermodal – Long Beach, Ca., to New Orleans) crosses Florida Avenue, the Florida Avenue Canal, and the Norfolk Southern Railway’s Chalmette line on its way to the CSX’s Gentilly Yard.

The containers in this train are maritime shipments mostly from China that arrive at the Port of Long Beach and are bound for Atlanta.

Krupa Says

Michelle Krupa of The Times-Picayune did respond to my letter.  She said that she’d continue to refer to the NOPB as an agency and a railroad, since it is a public entity.  She also pointed to this legal opinion from the attorney general.

All For Now

Jimbaux is plenty busy now, folks.  Remember, if you like what you see here, please join the Facebook fan page and follow Jimbaux on Twitter at @JimbauxsJournal .  Thanks!



1 Rita April 14, 2011 at 16:02

I think that might very well be one of the best photos I’ve ever seen..the first one of the bridge. wow!

2 EDITOR -- Jimbaux April 14, 2011 at 16:06

Thanks. It, along with about four of my other railroad photos from in and near New Orleans, were published last year in the Dutch book Kleurrijk beeld van de spoorwegen in de VS by Gijs van Appendoorn. See here:

3 Lee A. Gautreaux April 14, 2011 at 18:29

James, I don’t understand your comment regarding FoxNews. They are without a doubt the only one of the large legacy media TV news outlets that has retained any credibility. The rest, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC are so painfully slanted to the left it is not even funny. Fox is certainly a right-leaning station, but does a good job of presenting the facts for the viewer to scrutinize on their own.

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