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PC: Postal Service Honors Conrail

Postal Service Honors Conrail


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Postal Service bade farewell to Conrail   
Inc. by praising the railroad's 22 years of service and role in   
keeping the nation's mail moving through snow and strikes.

At a stamp dedication ceremony Tuesday night, officials credited  
Conrail with providing topnotch mail freight services.

``This service has enabled us to deliver mail to everyone, everywhere
along major rail routes in more than a dozen Eastern and Midwestern
states,'' said Nicholas Barranca, the service's vice president for
operations support. ``This is no small feat.''

Federal rail regulators last month approved a $10 billion plan to   
carve up Conrail routes and end 22 years of a congressionally created
rail monopoly in the Northeast.

On Saturday, CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. formally take over
Conrail's operations, although the companies will not actually split  
the rail carrier for several more months.

Gary J. Thuro, the Postal Service's logistics manager, said Conrail  
will be missed.

``They were very customer oriented,'' he said at a reception at the
National Postal Museum. ``They took care of customers through thick   
and thin, bad weather and strikes. When we call, they were always

Conrail won special praise for honoring Postal Service contracts   
during a 1991 rail strike by carrying mail on highways.

The Philadelphia-based railroad carries nearly one-fifth of the    
postal service's standard mail, officials estimate. It is the   
service's largest single rail supplier, holding 41 percent of
point-to-point rail contracts in fiscal 1997.

At the ceremony, Conrail was presented with a plague that said in   
part, ``It was a good run.''

Officials also unveiled a stamp of the aerodynamically streamlined 
design that stressed efficiency and speed. The train pictured is the 
20th Century Limited and was based on a poster given to a New York 
museum by the New York Central Railroad, a Conrail predecessor.

The stamp is part of the Postal Service's ``Celebrate the Century''
series and is one of 15 designs commemorating the 1930s. The stamps   
are to be issued Sept. 10 in Cleveland.

Railroads historically have been an important component of mail
transportation, although airplanes and trucks now carry the bulk of   
the mail.

On June 30, 1977, Conrail carried the last Railway Post Office Car,    
on which postal workers sort the mail en route. These days, mail  
carried by rail is presorted at post offices.

Conrail was formed by Congress in 1976 out of the New York Central    
and five other bankrupt railroads.

Conrail operates 11,000 miles of tracks in Michigan, Illinois,   
Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New
Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts as well as the   
District of Columbia and Quebec, Canada. 
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