CSX: Didn’t See Opposition Coming (Really?)

High-powered Opposition Hits CSX/Pan Am Prospects

27.August, Washington DC – The deadline for descriptions of anticipated (including inconsistent) responsive applications filing brought a tsunami of filings, including Comments in opposition from the U.S. Department of Justice, Amtrak, State of Vermont (VTrans), Vermont Rail System, and Comments and Request for Conditions from Mass Water Resource Authority (MWRA) and Mass Department of Transportation/MBTA.

Two loads arrived Jacksonville 28.August.

Opposition from DOJ, and VRS, and Vtrans relate to the potentially anticompetitive operating arrangement of the Pan Am Southern lines by the designated operator, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming. ANRP covered the challenges that the proposed “merger” presents to VRS in PAR Sale: Seeing the Fundamental Issue {ANRP, 18.June}. Since then, CSX (with G&W in tow) have filed the Revised Application, which was accepted by STB on 30.July, with no significant change to the Vermont Question, or any other competitiveness issues. CSX spokespersons have reassured ANRP on multiple occasions since June that Vermont discussions were proceeding, and that as late as 18.August, they were “optimistic that we will reach an agreement.”

Amtrak previously filed a vehement 04.June Statement AMTK: Warns CSX Threatens Passenger Prospects {ANRP 09.June} against the proposed “merger.” Amtrak’s 27.August Comment in Opposition shows it teeth in the first sentence, pointing out first that “passenger trains account for the majority of trains operating on many of the involved rail lines,” and second, that Amtrak Joe is personally and Presidentially behind them 100%. The Comment doesn’t ease up from there.

MassDOT/MBTA and MWRA stand their demands for conditions on the permanent embrace they will be sharing with CSX, as owner of numerous sections of high-use track (MassDOT), as operator of frequent passenger trains along many CSX-used tracks (MBTA), and as the steward of a regional drinking water reservoir that CSX will regularly traverse (MWRA). These ties are governed by many discrete and general agreements, and a few unforgotten promises, such as the 2010 “Wachusett-Plus” agreement between MBTA and Pan Am {ANRP, 01.Aug.2018}.

These and related comments – many in support of the “merger” – filed by the 27.August deadline will be more thoroughly reported here in ANRP as this week progresses. Stay tuned!