N.Y. State Senator, UPS Oppose Rail Merger

TT File Photo

New York State Sen. Kathleen Marchione and UPS Inc. are among those who are opposing the merger of Canadian Pacific Railway and Norfolk Southern Corp., according to letters on file with the Surface Transportation Board.

Marchione cited Norfolk Southern's investments in the former CP line it acquired in September. "Unlike the previous owner, Norfolk Southern is prudently expending capital and restoring service levels to address shipper needs and providing stable job opportunities for employees on the former Canadian Pacific line," she wrote.

The line runs from the Capital Region through the Schoharie Valley and Binghamton to Sunbury, Pa.

Norfolk Southern has been upgrading the tracks since taking over from CP, which continues to operate its line from Montreal south to the Port of Albany, moving oil-train traffic along the route.

Congestion on that line drew criticism from other shippers in the Capital Region, who said during a forum sponsored by the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County in November 2014 that their shipments faced delays.

But oil prices have slumped since then, cutting train traffic to Albany from North Dakota's Bakken fields.

That appears to have dampened concerns about rail service.

"From my perspective, it's been strangely quiet," said Pete Bardunias, president and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County. "Part of it is the downturn in the shipping of oil by rail."

UPS, meanwhile, told the STB that it "is concerned that this combination would lead to diminished rail intermodal service levels and increased costs for all segments of rail customers."

The company said it moves about 3,000 containers and trailers by rail each business day.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

The merger proposal also has its supporters.

The Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership, which describes itself as "the leading container terminal operator at the Port of Montreal," said the merger would "create a transcontinental railroad with the scale and reach to deliver improved levels of service to us and enable us to better serve our own customers and communities, while improving safety and enhancing competition."