CSX Transportation’s proposed acquisition of Pan Am Railways is back on track

Despite more stringent regulatory review, company says it will continue with plan

CsxCSX Transportation is determined to pursue its prospective acquisition of Pan Am Railways.

CSX is proceeding with its bid despite the decision of the Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency that regulates railroads, to subject the transaction to the more thorough, stringent and lengthy review process the company sought to sidestep.

Pan Am is as the largest regional railroad in North American, with 1,700 miles of track in New England, including 121 miles in New Hampshire. Initially, CSX asked the STB to treat the proposed acquisition as a “minor transaction.” However, the states of Massachusetts and Vermont claimed the deal would lessen competition among freight carriers in the region and risk disruption of commuter rail service in Massachusetts.

Both states, echoed by their congressional delegations and state lawmakers, urged the board designate the acquisition as a “significant transaction.”

Last week, CSX told the board it would file a new application by April 26, reopening the period for interested parties to comment and the company to respond, which would close by Sept. 30 in anticipation of the STB issuing a decision by Dec. 29.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation has filed its intent to participate as an interested party with the STB, but has yet to comment. Commissioner Victoria Sheehan is expected to brief the governor and Executive Council on the department’s perspective when it meets next week.

Peter Leishman, who owns and operates the Milford-Bennington Railroad, which connects to Pan Am’s track at Wilton and carries freight to Bennington, said CSX’s decision to pursue the transaction “is the best railroad news New England has had in a long time. They will definitely build business and have a very positive effect on the economy of New England.”

Leishman expected that CSX has already opened conversations with Massachusetts and Vermont to overcome their reservations about the transaction to facilitate the ultimate approval of the acquisition by the STB.

Meanwhile, close to 100 firms that ship by rail have expressed support for the acquisition, with “looking forward to improved service” a constant refrain of their filings with the STB.

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