By Justin Franz
WASHINGTON — Amtrak President Bill Flynn called CSX Transportation’s planned acquisition of Pan Am Railways “a significant threat to the American traveling public” in a stinging statement released Friday.
Amtrak’s opposition to the proposed merger comes just a week after the U.S. Surface Transportation Board rejected CSX’s acquisition application for the second time in as many months on procedural grounds.
Flynn specifically said that the proposed acquisiton could negatively impact Amtrak’s plans to dramatically expand passenger rail service in New England, as outlined in its recently released corridor plan. Amtrak wants to expand service to 160 new communities across the country before 2035.
“After reviewing the CSX application, it is clear that the proposed merger, in its current form, will adversely impact the performance of Amtrak trains and threaten future growth opportunities,” Flynn said. “As the STB evaluates the proposed Pan Am-CSX merger, we urge the Board to recognize that intercity passenger transportation is a critical factor in maintaining and growing rail connections between communities, economic growth, social equity and sustainability.”
CSX announced that it was purchasing Pan Am in late 2020 and earlier this year submitted its plan to the STB. The initial proposal was critized by state governments, shippers and other railroads in the region because CSX sought to to have the acqusition considered a “minor” transaction, which would have required less review by federal regulators. The STB determeind that CSX’s proposed would be considered “significant” and thus they would need to submit a more robusting application. A few months later, CSX filed a more robust application but last week the STB rejected it stating that it lacked a proper market analysis. CSX will now have to file a revised applicaiton, sometime between now and the end of July. The new filing means that if approved CSX will not be able to take over Pan Am until well into 2022.