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President's Report to Employes: "An eventful and forward-moving year in the life of Great Northern"

Ours is a swiftly-paced civilization in which we literally are reaching for the stars - when current history is being written in the "science fiction" vocabulary of celestial travel. But those of us who are more immediately concerned with terrestrial transportation know that the story of man's progress is still being recorded in the down-to-earth language of railroading, too.

This 24th Annual Report to Employes mirrors an eventful and forward-moving year in the life of Great Northern. Essentially the Annual Report is an accounting of our cooperative effort in operating and improving the property, and as such is based on financial and statistical data which all railways must provide the Interstate Commerce Commission. The picture would be incomplete, however, without mention of some of the significant developments which affected Great Northern and the railway industry in 1962 and thereby touched all of our lives.

We began GN's second century together

One event which gave us a stimulating personal sense of participation in history was the commemoration on June 28, 1962 of Great Northern's Centennial of service, recalling the maiden run of the William Crooks between St. Paul and Minneapolis 100 years ago. While it is pioneering in space rather than in the "wide open spaces" of the West which fires the popular imagination today, I hope that those of us who have been privileged to begin Great Northern's second century together do so with a sense of our continuing destiny. For given the opportunity to fully utilize the marvelous potential of the railroad, we will serve our growing territory with increasing efficiency for many years to come.

Certainly one of the vital keys to tapping that potential is our proposed merger with the Northern Pacific, Burlington and Spokane, Portland and Seattle railways. History will record 1962 as a year of important progress toward our goal of creating a vigorous, unified system.

The public hearing phase of the merger, which began October 10, 1961 in St. Paul, finally was concluded in Minneapolis on July 10, 1962. During this nine-month period Interstate Commerce Commission Examiner Robert H. Murphy conducted 82 actual days of hearings in 16 cities throughout the territory served by the merging lines. Various issues touching upon the question of public interest were exhaustively treated by the testimony of 623 witnesses, 393 of whom supported the merger. Transcript of testimony totaled 15,004 pages, 10,051 of which were devoted to cross-examination by all parties.

Examiner's merger recommendations awaited

Briefs were filed with Examiner Murphy by 29 of the interveners on January 4, 1963, and at this writing he is preparing his report and recommendations. All parties will have the opportunity to file exceptions to his report and to comment on the exceptions of others through reply briefs. The case then goes to the Commissioners for decision.

As we await these final developments in the merger timetable, I would like to reiterate my absolute conviction that the consolidation of the four companies is desirable not only in the broad public interest but in the collective personal interest of employes. Immediate job protection is vital, and that which is guaranteed railway employes under Federal law and the Washington Job Protection Agreement is unparalleled in other industries. But job stability and opportunity for the future can be vested only with a healthy, growing, competitively-successful company of the type which merger promises to create. While I do not look to merger as a panacea, I believe that is has been demonstrated convincingly that this is the most acceptable means of self-help available to us for reversing the erosion of traffic and employment on our lines, and for securing for us a vital role in the continuing development of our territory.

Kennedy's message to Congress encouraging

Hope for eventual surgery on a basic cancer afflicting the railway industry - that of restrained competitive opportunity - was raised to new heights in 1962 when President Kennedy addressed his historic April message to Congress on the "pressing problems...burdening our national transportation system."