Jim Blaze

Jim Blaze

Independent railway economist Jim Blaze has been in the railroad industry for well over 40 years. Trained in logistics, he served seven years with the Illinois DOT as a Chicago long-range freight planner and almost two years with the USRA technical staff in Washington, D.C. Jim then spent 21 years with Conrail in cross-functional strategic roles from branch line economics to mergers, IT, logistics, and corporate change. He followed this with 20 years of international consulting at rail engineering firm Zeta-Tech Associates. Jim is a Magna cum Laude Graduate of St. Anselm’s College with a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, Married with six children, he lives outside of Philadelphia. “This column reflects my continued passion for the future of railroading as a competitive industry,” says Jim. “Only by occasionally challenging our institutions can we probe for better quality and performance. My opinions are my own, independent of Railway Age.”

In his just-published “My Life with Trains: Memoir of a Railroader,” the late Jim McClellan (June 10, 1939 – Oct. 14, 2016) left us with a detailed description of how difficult leadership can be.

Oliver Wyman Partner Rodney Case delivered a thought-provoking address March 6 at Rail Equipment Finance 2017 on the future of North America’s rail industry.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 10:56

New, potentially disruptive businesses

This is Jim Blaze, rail economist and teacher—sometimes a reporter; always one who questions. I’m concerned about how the “Big 7” railroads are going to address their next five to ten years of market position, taking the wealth they created, and turning it into an upgraded business model. Which one so far has laid out the best disruptive plan? Which one is struggling? And which one might simply be cashing out?

It has been a bit more than a decade and a half since the rail industry, assisted by well-qualified consultants, alerted the public and industry watchers that economic growth would clearly require some form of a new partnership if the rail freight industry was to assemble the capital resources necessary to meet freight demand by about 2035.

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