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I've been shopping for a railroad. . . .

That's a stanza US railroad unions have been singing as they ponder the purchase of Conrail. The US government must sell the line by June 1, 1983. The government owns 85 percent of the system; the Conrail Employee Stock Ownership Plan owns the other 15 percent. Nineteen unions represent Conrail's 60,000 employees. They'd like to see the line go to a strong buyer willing to continue the system's freight and commuter sevice without diverting resources to non-rail uses. The unions even have agreed to help streamline operations and cut costs to attract a buyer.

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But unions will also draft plans for employee ownership if that is necessary to save the system and its jobs.

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