By Justin Franz
The sale of CSX Transportation’s Massena Line to Canadian National is again in limbo because of a disagreement over a provision that would prevent the Canadian road from interchanging with two New York short lines. On May 26, attorneys for the two Class 1s wrote that unless the U.S. Surface Transportation Board changes its stance on the prevision the sale of nearly 280 miles of track in New York and Quebec could fall apart.
In August 2019, CSX entered into an agreement to sell the Massena Line (the former Conrail Montreal Secondary) and a number of branch lines to CN. In April, the STB approved the deal however it told the Class 1 roads that they would have to eliminate a provision that would prevent CN from interchanging with Finger Lakes Railway and New York, Susquehanna & Western near Syracuse. But that later became a sticking point and the two Class 1 roads had to re-enter negotiations. The board gave them two different deadlines, May 18 and May 26, to sort out the differences. The two railroads were unable to come to an agreement and on May 26 asked the STB to reconsider the provision preventing CN from connecting with the Susquehanna and Finger Lakes.
“Under present circumstances, it regrettably appears that the parties will be unable to proceed with the Transaction absent reconsideration (of the board’s condition of approval),” the attorneys wrote.
As of May 29, the STB had not responded. When the two railroads announced the deal last year, they stated that the sale would speed up the movement of freight in the region.