LAW: Don’t Let Rail Merger Opportunity Pass Us By

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This column was published in NH Journal.

By Brian Law

After five generations in the logistics business, I’d like to think my family understands just how much hard work and careful planning it takes to keep our region’s economy running smoothly. It’s far from easy, but it’s rewarding work because it paves the way for countless businesses to succeed and for families to lead happy, productive lives.

Law Logistics started hauling freight in 1882 with one horse and buggy. We’ve since grown into one of the largest logistics companies in New England, utilizing a fleet of more than 100 flatbed, van and lift gate trailers. Through our warehousing, transportation, and distribution work, we have deep visibility into the ins-and-outs of our local freight infrastructure – and we’ve learned some important lessons along the way.

Two of these lessons come to mind when I think about the proposed merger of CSX, a class one national railroad, and Pan Am Railways, a valued regional provider. Both lessons contribute to my strong support for this merger as both a businessman and a part of our regional freight supply chain.

There aren’t many railroads as capable as CSX of bringing truly “game-changing” investment, execution, and expertise to the table. Through the merger, CSX will elevate our entire region’s freight rail infrastructure. They’ve indicated they’ll invest in things like upgraded tracks that support higher speeds and larger loads, improved terminal infrastructure, and much more.

These improvements don’t come cheap and, in my view, simply aren’t going to be possible without heavy private investment from a private entity like CSX. Once in place, though, upgrades like these will help shippers of all stripes to realize higher productivity, better dependability, and reduced costs. These benefits trickle down to the customers we serve, putting all of us in a better position to meet our goals and strengthen our margins during these competitive times.

Upgraded infrastructure also benefits passenger rail, with historical performance demonstrating that passenger railways have seen improved on-time performance when working alongside CSX.

These improvements represent a clear win for our industry and our region. To me, the merits of the merger are as plain as day.

That leads me to the second lesson I’ve learned over the years, which is perhaps even more straightforward than the first: never let a good opportunity pass you by.

It is all too common, in these divided times, to see promising projects or collaborations die on the vine in the face of difficulty arriving at consensus. It is my sincere hope that this does not happen in the case of the CSX/Pan Am merger.

The good news is that the powers that be – from Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to Sen. Susan Collins in Maine – are enthusiastic about the benefits of this merger to our entire region. New England, after all, is heavily dependent on its rail network, and any steps we can take to improve our infrastructure have the potential to bring outsize benefits to our region.

As the Surface Transportation Board reviews the merger, I hope they’ll agree with these local experts and recognize the value and importance of this proposal.

After close to 140 years in the logistics business, I believe that I know a good deal when I see one when it comes to shipping and transportation. This, to me, is a good deal.

I’m eager to work with a new partner like CSX, and I’m confident that we won’t let this opportunity pass us by.

Brian Law is the President of the Law Family Companies, Inc.

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