CSX, Canadian National extend deadline for Massena Line sale

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The Massena Line, shown in purple.
Surface Transportation Board filing

WASHINGTON — With the Canadian National’s acquisition of CSX Transportation’s line linking Syracuse, N.Y., with Montreal stuck in regulatory limbo, the railroads have extended a self-imposed deadline for the deal to close.

The railroads on Monday told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that they were extending a Nov. 30 “drop dead date” to Feb. 28, 2021. Prior to that date, either railroad could back out of the sale agreement covering CSX’s Massena Line.

The STB in April approved CN’s acquisition of the line through its Bessemer & Lake Erie subsidiary. But the board ordered CSX and CN to eliminate a provision in the sale agreement that would bar CN from ever negotiating direct interchange with the Finger Lakes Railway and the New York, Susquehanna & Western in the Syracuse area.

The board twice extended the deadline for the railroads to submit a revised purchase and sale agreement. But the railroads told the board they were unable to come to terms and asked regulators to reconsider.

On Monday the railroads asked the board to rule on the matter as soon as possible.

“Under the circumstances, the parties respectfully request the Board issue its decision on the pending petitions for reconsideration ... as soon as possible,” the railroads said in their filing. “B&LE and CSXT remain firmly committed to completion of the transaction and to the realization of the significant public interest benefits that the Board recognized in its approval decision.

STB Vice Chairman Patrick Fuchs told the RailTrends 2020 conference last month that the board doesn’t set deadlines for its adjudicatory proceedings. But he added that, “timeliness is something we take very seriously.”

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.

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