Regulators approve CN purchase of CSX line in New York

Sale of Massena Line effective May 21
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Canadian National's purchase of the CSX Massena line, shown in purple, has been approved.
Canadian National

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Monday approved Canadian National’s acquisition of CSX Transportation’s line linking the Montreal area with Syracuse, N.Y., a deal the railroads say will improve service for cross-border traffic.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board decision, effective May 21, rejected numerous conditions sought by various parties, including short line Finger Lakes Railway’s attempt to gain direct interchange with CN in the Syracuse area.

But the board did order CSX and CN to eliminate a provision in the sale agreement that would bar CN from ever negotiating interchange in the Syracuse area with Finger Lakes and the New York, Susquehanna & Western.

The Massena Line sale totals 278.1 miles between Beauharnois, Quebec, and Woodard, N.Y., including 41.8 miles of trackage in Quebec and branch lines and spurs on both sides of the border. Among them: CSX’s 31-mile Fulton Subdivision.

CN will house the U.S. trackage under its Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad subsidiary and employ 53 people, up from the 50 CSX currently employs on the line.

The line sale will move the CN-CSX revenue interchange to Woodard, N.Y., just north of Syracuse, from the current location at Huntingdon, Quebec. From an operational perspective, however, the railroads will exchange traffic at CSX’s Dewitt Yard in Syracuse and CSX’s Belle Isle Yard near Solvay, N.Y.

New CN through trains M327 and M326, which will carry mixed manifest and intermodal traffic, will run between CN’s Taschereau Yard in Montreal and Dewitt.

The trains will replace two pairs of trains CSX currently uses to handle through traffic, which includes Selkirk-Massena, N.Y., trains Q620 and Q621 as well as a pair of transfer jobs, B798 and B799, that run between Massena and Huntingdon.

The operational changes will reduce cross-border transit time by a day.

CSX and CN in October launched joint intermodal service linking the ports of Philadelphia and New York and New Jersey with Montreal and Toronto. The Montreal traffic moves via the Massena Line, and the line sale will greatly improve CN’s length of haul for the new intermodal traffic. [See “CN and CSX team up for new interline intermodal service linking Canada and Northeast,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 9, 2019]

The line sale is part of CSX’s ongoing effort to spin off low-density routes that are not considered core to its system. The route was among those put out to bid in 2018.

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