Passenger railroad says Pan Am deal in its current form will ‘negatively impact’ present and future passenger operations
WASHINGTON — Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn says the company opposes CSX Transportation’s acquisition of New England regional Pan Am Railways, saying the deal in its current form “represents a significant threat to the American traveling public” and “will negatively impact current passenger train service and future routes in Massachusetts and Northern New England.”
Amtrak has included several possible new routes in the region in its “Corridor Vision” plan, released late last month [see “Amtrak ‘Corridor Vision’ report addresses expansion plans …,” Trains News Wire, May 27, 2021]. That document outlines the company’s goals for expanded state-supported regional services across the nation by 2035.
Flynn says in the statement that Amtrak’s primary consideration in this or any other merger is to ensure on-time performance of Amtrak trains over affected routes, and to “ensure we will have a good partner in seeking to improve and expand existing state-supported and long-distance routes as well as planned expansion to new routes.” It is clear the proposed deal, he writes, “will adversely impact the performance of Amtrak trains and threaten future growth opportunities.”
The statement comes against the backdrop of a continuing dispute with CSX (as well as Norfolk Southern) over efforts to relaunch passenger service between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. [See “Amtrak asks STB to require CSX, NS to allow Gulf Coast service,” News Wire, March 16, 2021].
Flynn’s statement, available in full here, urges the Surface Transportation Board to take passenger service into consideration as it reviews the CSX-Pan Am deal. The statement does not specifically indicate whether Amtrak has filed a comment on the matter with the STB, and as of the close of business Friday, no Amtrak filing has been posted on the STB website.
CSX, asked about Flynn’s comments, responded with a statement saying, “CSX commits to maintaining or improving existing service on Pan Am both as to customers and passenger service. We are confident that the pro-competitive acquisition of Pan Am will bring significant benefits to stakeholders in the Northeastern United States and beyond and look forward to presenting further detail illustrating those benefits.”
— Updated at 5:05 p.m. CDT with CSX statement.