By Justin Franz
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said late last week that it would consider proposals from Canadian National and Norfolk Southern to takeover certain rail lines and gain expanded trackage rights as part of the review of the proposed Canadian Pacific Kansas City merger.
In recent months, competing Class Is have been having their say on whether or not the federal regulator should let CP and KCS merge. CN and NS have been steadfastly opposed but have offered proposals to the board that would ease their opposition. Specifically, CN would like to acquire KCS’ line between Springfield, Ill., and Kansas City, as well as to East St. Louis. According to CN, that acquisition, combined with CN’s former Illinois Central route between Chicago and Springfield, would create two competing lines between Kansas City and Chicago, thus increasing competition. CP has said such a sale is unnecessary and should not be added as a condition to approving the merger.
Further south, NS filed a comment stating that it would like to protect access to the “Meridian Speedway,” a joint venture it has with KCS between Meridian, Miss., and Shreveport, La. Specifically, NS stated that it would like to expand its access by being able to haul premium boxcar and automotive traffic. Presently, NS has a haulage agreement with KCS that limits what exactly it can move through the area.
In a press release, the STB stated that it believed CN and NS’ requests had met the legal standards for review and that they would be taken under consideration.
The CPKC merger would be the largest railroad combination in a generation and the review of it is expected to last many months.