Railroads: The Gandy Dancers' Line

Among U.S. railroads, the Chicago & North Western has an unusual characteristic: its commuter trains run on time. Last week it gained an even more remarkable distinction. Ben Heineman's Northwest Industries Inc., the conglomerate that owns the road, agreed to sell out to a new company composed entirely of the line's employees.

If the Interstate Commerce Commission approves the deal, as expected, the North Western Employees Transportation Co. will acquire the line by taking over $401 million of its debt and paying $19 million over 20 years. All of the line's 14,000 employees, from president to gandy dancers, will be invited...

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