CN/CSX: Massena Line Sale Details

CN'S Bessemer & Lake Erie Files Comprehensive "Application for a Minor Transaction" with STB. Detailing the Massena Transaction's U.S. Track and Operational Specifics, and a Timeline to Complete the Purchase.

11 October, Montreal QC – Total U.S. mileage of the transaction amounts to 236.6 miles from Woodard to Fort Covington NY, including several branch and spur lines. Due to limited space in Woodard Yard, traffic originating/bound east will be transferred in CSX DeWitt Yard; traffic originating/bound west will be transferred in CSX Belle Isle Yard. Port of Oswego traffic will be transferred in Fulton Yard.

When CSX announced its plan to dispose of six properties in June 2018, the Massena Line “package” roughly comprised the 158.8-mile St. Lawrence Subdivision ( Syracuse-Massena ), the ~65-mile Montreal Subdivision (in service Massena-Beauharnois). The described package also included several spurs and the ~30-mile Fulton subdivision serving the Port of Oswego on Lake Ontario. The sale announcement did not specify the total track mileage.

Syracuse NY – Montreal QC

The BLE (CN) Massena Package U.S. assets include the SLD from Woodard NY to Fort Covington NY at the Canadian border. Including spurs and interchanges shown. North of the border, the line continues to Beauharnois. {CN “Application,” annotated by ANRP.(c)ANRP}.

The property included in the transaction and located in the United States comprises the following, for a total of approximately 236.3 miles 1 :


  • Lawrence Subdivision (SLD)between QM 3.0 (Woodard, NY) and QM 183.1 (Fort Covington, NY/US-Canadian border). Distance ~179.2 miles;
  • Fulton Subdivision, connecting at SLD QM 7.2, at Woodard NY and terminating Fort Ontario, NY, ~31.0 miles2.
  • Carthage Branchconnecting at SLD QM 89.6 at Philadelphia, NY, and connecting with with MHWA, Regis NY, ~12 miles.
  • Balmat Industrial Trackconnecting at SLD QM 107 at Gouverneur NY and terminating Balmat NY, ~9.0 miles.
  • Rooseveltown Industrial Track(MSTR) connecting at SLD QM 160.8, Helena, NY, and terminating Rooseveltown NY, ~5.0 miles.


The CN System-CSX revenue interchange will be at Woodard, NY. However, there are not adequate facilities at that location for physically interchanging traffic, nor could such facilities easily be added. B&LE will therefore physically interchange traffic with CSX at Solvay Belle Isle Yard or Syracuse Dewitt Yard.

Spur interchanges :

  • MHWA at Carthage NY,
  • NYOG at Norwood NY (SLD QM 147.9),
  • MSTR at Massena NY.

Fort Drum service

Interline manifest freight, intermodal traffic, and military trains moving between Fort Drum and points east of Syracuse will be interchanged between B&LE and CSX at Dewitt Yard. Unit trains originating or terminating on the Fulton Subdivision and military trains moving between Fort Drum and points west of Syracuse will be physically interchanged at Belle Isle Yard.


The U.S. Massena Lines do not connect to NYSW or to FLK, and under the terms of the agreement, B&LE will not acquire access to and agrees not to seek access to those carriers or their successors or assigns.

Estimated number of trains on the U.S. Massena Lines before and after the Transaction, reflecting the changes in train operations described above. B&LE estimates that, after the Transaction, the number of trains between Fort Covington and Massena, NY will decrease.


Current train operations

Q620 (northbound, daily) and Q621 (southbound, six days per week) run between Massena and Selkirk NY (south of Albany) by way of Dewitt Yard near Syracuse, carrying carload and intermodal traffic.

U.S. Government military equipment and supplies unit trains serve Fort Drum. East trains utilize Dewitt Yard (Syracuse NY), and west trains use Belle Isle Yard (Solvay NY).

Grain unit trains originating from west utilize Belle Isle Yard, or Fulton Yard (to Port of Oswego). East traffic goes through DeWitt Yard.

Transfer assignments B798 and B799 operate six days per week from Massena to Huntingdon QC and back, interchanging traffic with CN at Huntingdon.

Transfer assignment B762 runs Massena – Ste. Agnes QC and back, carrying intermodal and carload freight originating or terminating at CSX points in Canada. In Ste. Agnes B762 freight is handed off to or picked up from CSX Transfer assignment B763, which runs between Beauharnois QC to Ste. Agnes and back 3 .

Four local trains operate from the U.S. Massena Lines:

  • Massena local operates five days per week out of Massena Yard, serving customers in Massena, Norwood, Potsdam, and Rooseveltown, plus NYOG interchange traffic (Norwood), and MSTR traffic (Massena).
  • Watertown local operates six days per week out of Massey Yard, serving customers at Gouverneur, Philadelphia, and Watertown, and on the Balmat Industrial Track and Carthage Branch, plus MWHA interchange traffic (Carthage).
  • Fulton local operates six days per week) Fulton Yard, transferring traffic between Fulton Yard and Dewitt Yard, serving customers on the Fulton Subdivision at Fulton and Oswego, NY.
  • Woodard local operates five days per week out of Woodard, serving customers at Liverpool, Phoenix, and Woodard, NY.

Future Operations

Following consummation of the Transaction, CN will operate one pair of through trains (M327 southbound/M326 northbound) per day between Montreal Taschereau Yard and Woodard, NY, with physical interchange occurring in Dewitt Yard (trains east) or Belle Isle Yard (trains west). These trains will replace the CSX Q621 and Q620, as well as the CSX B798, B799, and B762 transfer assignments. Elimination of B798 and B799 will negate crew scheduling delays, thereby reducing total estimated transit time by approximately 24 hours.

M327 and M326 are expected to carry mixed manifest and intermodal traffic. They will set out and pick up cars at Massena, Watertown, and Woodard. Crews will change at Massena Yard. U.S. BLE crews will operate in the United States. CNR Canadian crews will operate in Canada except to cross the border to change crews at Massena Yard.

Immediately following consummation of the Transaction, intermodal traffic moving to and from Montreal will be handled on CN System trains M326 and M327, pursuant to the 08.Aug agreement.

BLE will continue to operate the current military unit trains between Fort Drum and the appropriate interchange location, as well as local trains operating in Massena, Watertown, Fulton, and Woodard.

Positive Train Control is functioning on the St. Lawrence Subdivision. CSX will provide PTC transition services on the St. Lawrence Subdivision after B&LE’s acquisition, and until the line segment is transferred from the CSX’s PTC implementation plan to CN’s PTC implementation plan.

{STB document #248603; FD 36347 11.Oct.2019}

1 The 236.3 approximate mileage is the sum of the individual segments. Milepost numbers do not necessarily reflect exact mileage, and therefore the mileage of certain segments may be slightly different than the number calculated by subtracting milepost numbers.

2 CSX previously obtained approval from the Board for discontinuance of service on the Fulton Subdivision between QMF 37.10 – 37.95 {STB Docket No. AB_55_731X}. B&LE is purchasing that track in its discontinued state.

3 Until 06.Oct.2019 B763 stopped at Valleyfield to interchange loads to/from Ste. Agnes. Pursuant to the 08.Aug agreement between the CN and CSX, Valleyfield Yard has been closed, and CNR intermodal traffic is now interchanged at Huntingdon, and carried by CNR via the CSX line for loading/unloading at CNR’s Montreal Taschereau Yard Intermodal Terminal.