(Courtesy of the Greenfield Reporter) – Florida-based CSX Transportation has announced it is acquiring Pan Am Railways, though the terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.
The deal will expand CSX’s reach into Massachusetts and Connecticut while adding Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to its 23-state network. The acquisition is subject to regulatory review and approval by the federal Surface Transportation Board.
CSX is based in Jacksonville, Fla. It already operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces.
“In Pan Am, CSX gains a strong regional rail network in one of the most densely populated markets in the U.S., creating new efficiencies and market opportunities for customers as we continue to grow,” CSX President and CEO James M. Foote said in a statement. “We look forward to integrating Pan Am into CSX, with substantial benefits to the rail-served industries of the Northeast, and to working in partnership with connecting railroads to provide exceptional supply chain solutions to New England and beyond.”
Pan Am Railways, the dominant freight carrier in northern New England with 1,700 miles of track, announced it was for sale in July.
Pan Am President David A. Fink said in a statement that the company is pleased to reach the definitive agreement with CSX, which he called “a North American leader in rail-based freight transportation.”
“This is great news for New England shippers and the national freight network overall,” Fink said.
Cynthia Scarano, Pan Am’s executive vice president for the past 11 years, said this is an exciting development.
“We think this is going to bring about some great opportunity for rail service in New England,” she told the Greenfield Recorder. “We just think that it’s going to open up a wide expansion of market.”
If regulators approve the deal, CSX would also acquire Pan Am’s partial ownership of a 600-mile joint venture with Norfolk Southern railroad called Pan Am Southern. Earlier this month, Norfolk Southern raised concerns about this deal with the federal Surface Transportation Board because it said allowing CSX to buy Pan Am could undermine competition between CSX and Norfolk Southern in the eastern United States.
Certain Massachusetts legislators representing cities and towns on the Route 2 rail corridor had sent a letter in the fall to state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack urging proactive measures regarding the potential sale of Pan Am Railways. They cited a Massachusetts law providing the state with a right of first refusal for the sale of any railroad right of way or related facilities within the state.
They also urged the state Department of Transportation to “indicate strong interest in securing passenger rights between North Adams and Fitchburg” as well as “consider purchasing all or part of the rail corridor, at minimum, from Fitchburg to Greenfield.”
“I continue to join with colleagues in advocating for the commonwealth to keep potential northern tier passenger rail interests in mind as it relates to PanAm’s pending sale,” Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, commented on Tuesday. “These tracks and our region play a key role in the commonwealth’s transportation future.”
Photo courtesy of Brian Suh.