NATALE: Rail merger will help build on 50-year legacy of service


This column was published in The Connecticut Post.

By Joe Natale

For nearly 60 years, our company — Inland Fuel Terminals, a subsidiary of Santa Energy Corp. — has played an integral role in delivering wholesale energy products like kerosene, heating oil, diesel, biofuels and propane to customers in Connecticut and throughout New England. During these five-plus decades, we have taken pride in being a dependable partner to our customers and clients.

In a complex and interconnected economy and supply chain, it is essential that we do our job as efficiently and predictably as possible. The proposed merger between CSX Transportation and Pan Am Railways will help us do just that, and that is why our company enthusiastically supports the proposal and is eager for its approval.

IFTI utilizes Pan Am Southern to terminate traffic at Terryville for movements of our products both within and outside of New England. The CSX merger will expand rail service for our facilities — and that expansion will enable us to improve the efficiency of our own operations in a meaningful way.

For any responsible business owner or operator, benefits such as those that will be delivered by the merger warrant careful consideration. In addition, upon a closer look at the merger and all it entails for New England’s rail network, it is clear that this proposal has the potential to be particularly beneficial for any entities that look to the railroad to keep their operations moving smoothly.

If the merger is approved, CSX will invest to modernize and update rail infrastructure across New England — including the Springfield Terminal site our company relies upon so heavily to serve our clients. And during a time when the prospect of federal infrastructure funding can seem so remote, as evidenced by the ongoing impasse in Washington, D.C., the opportunity to gain access to such meaningful private investment is noteworthy — and in my opinion, too good to pass up.

If approved, CSX would make upgrades to existing rail lines that would enable safe transportation of larger loads at higher speeds. CSX would also take steps such as updating aging locomotives, replacing them with newer and more efficient models that burn less fuel and emit less carbon while also delivering more power.

These benefits are huge, without a doubt, and will have a positive impact on the operating costs faced by countless New England shippers. However, as we noted in the letter we submitted to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board in support of the merger, this merger is about more than upgraded infrastructure. That updated infrastructure is the backbone of CSX’s first-rate operating model — and our region stands to benefit from the company’s expertise as that model rolls out following the merger.

CSX’s operating model has set new standards of service across its footprint in recent years, delivering higher velocity, shorter equipment turn times, and greater consistency. At IFTI, we are excited to benefit from the advantages brought by this model — and to pass those benefits on to our customers through lower costs, better service and improved access to the North American rail network. By collaborating with CSX and its sales and marketing teams, we believe we can even expand the offerings we make available to our customers — an exciting proposition that will help us build on our half century of service.

The merger is still under consideration at the Surface Transportation Board. Members of the community — from politicians on both sides of the aisle to members of the business and environmental communities — have steadily spoken up in favor of the merger. Our company is happy to do the same today, and to urge the Surface Transportation Board to approve the application so we — and so many others — can begin to benefit from the investment and expertise this merger will bring to New England.

Joe Natale is director of business development and operations for Inland Fuel Terminals, Inc.

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