By Justin Franz
WASHINGTON — The third time was the charm. On Thursday, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board decided to accept CSX Transportation’s third application to acquire New England’s Pan Am Railways. The decision will kick off a lengthy review process that is expected to drag on into 2022.
In a decision published Thursday, the board provided a proposed schedule for its review of the transaction. As of right now, the board expects to deliver a final decision about CSX’s plan on April 1, 2022. If the board greenlights the acquisition, CSX would officially take over Pan Am on May 1, 2022.
Earlier this month, CSX filed an “amended and supplemented application” to the STB after the regulator had rejected two previous attempts. CSX first submitted its plan to acquire Pan Am back in February but a month later it was rejected after the board deemed it would be a “significant” transaction. In April, CSX filed a 478-page amended application. But in May, the board said that was not enough either and that the new application didn’t have a “market analysis” looking at how the deal might impact the New England rail network.
Late last year, CSX announced that it would purchase Pan Am for an undisclosed amount of money. As part of the proposed plan, Genesee & Wyoming would operate Pan Am Southern — a joint venture between Pan Am and Norfolk Southern — and NS will get trackage rights over CSX’s Boston Line so that it can move double-stack trains to Ayer, Mass. The new G&W line would be called Berkshire & Eastern. CSX would operate the railroad east of Ayer, Mass., into New Hampshire and Maine.