A second significant agreement between Amtrak and a Class I railroad has been announced in as many weeks. In a Jan. 12th filing to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), CSX Transportation announced it will agree to support expanded passenger service in New England in return for Amtrak’s support of the freight railroad’s acquisition of Pan Am Railways.
Specifically, CSX agreed to six of seven conditions outlined by Amtrak in an STB filing, with a proposed revision in response to the seventh condition regarding Albany - Pittsfield service. The conditions Amtrak outlined include respecting the legal right of Amtrak trains to priority dispatching over freight trains; expanding and improving Downeaster service between Maine and Boston, via Worcester, MA; expanding and improving Amtrak service between Albany and Boston; hosting seasonal Berkshire Flyer trains between Albany and Pittsfield, MA (contingent on the construction of a 1,000-foot station track in Pittsfield); and guaranteeing that that Norfolk Southern trains displaced from Pan Am Southern to CSX’s Boston & Albany mainline will not interfere with current or proposed Amtrak service between Albany and Worcester. Amtrak had threatened to oppose the acquisition unless their conditions were met.
“Rail Passengers is pleased at the amicable resolution that has been reached between CSX and Amtrak, which will be a tremendous benefit to passengers, both in New England and nationally,” said Jim Mathews, Rail Passengers President & CEO. “We applaud the oversight provided by the STB, particularly the leadership provided by Chairman Martin Oberman, which has played a critical role in preserving capacity for current and future passenger rail service in the face of freight rail industry mergers.”