This is Why the CSX-Pan Am Merger Benefits Passenger Rail in New England
The proposed acquisition of Pan Am Railways by CSX benefits not just freight rail operations, but passenger rail, too. With a strong record of accomplishment in hosting passenger rail services, CSX’s increased presence in New England is good news for riders of Amtrak and regional commuter rails. As the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority’s Downeaster service celebrates its 20th Anniversary, it is a good opportunity to highlight the benefits of having CSX as a partner in New England.
Hosting Passenger Trains
At the heart of CSX’s passenger partnership is a dedicated team that oversees the operation of passenger trains on the company’s network. The team works proactively with dispatchers to ensure that passenger trains remain on schedule. CSX hosts more passenger rail service than any other Class I railroad, and in densely populated areas. Looking at Amtrak specifically, 53 of its trains currently operate over CSX tracks. Since 2018, the company’s contractual on-time performance with Amtrak has progressively improved from 73.3% to 93.6%, an increase of nearly 20 percentage points. These figures reflect CSX’s continued commitment to ensuring seamless passenger rail operations, and New England is bound to benefit from this if the transaction is approved.
Investment is also critical to the future of passenger rail operations. While Pan Am has sometimes lacked the resources to deliver improvements to its own rail network, the acquisition by CSX will see an influx of capital into New England’s rail infrastructure. The numbers speak for themselves. During the last five years, CSX has invested more than $12 billion in capital expenditures, and in 2021 is poised to spend toward the top end of its $1.7-1.8 billion projection. In its application under consideration by the Surface Transportation Board (STB), CSX details plans to invest significantly in Pan Am’s infrastructure to better align it with CSX’s industry-leading operating model. Over the next five years, CSX will upgrade Pan Am Railway’s lines to a higher class of track, which will improve safety and efficiency of trains moving across these tracks.
While passengers want to get from point A to point B quickly, it is also imperative that they arrive safely. Safety is a vital component of CSX’s operating model, resulting in CSX having the lowest injury rate of all Class I railroads last year.
Overall, CSX has proven to be a critical partner for passenger rail operations across its network. The acquisition of Pan Am and CSX’s increased presence in New England will bring the region’s rail infrastructure and operations into the 21st Century. As former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray recently said, “CSX has demonstrated that it is a good corporate citizen that’s committed to investing in and improving its network,” noting that it is a company “run by smart people that has proven itself willing to think creatively and collaboratively so freight rail and passenger rail can co-exist and benefit from one another.”
The future is bright for freight and passenger rail if the STB gives the transaction its blessing next year.