Canadian Pacific, Kansas City Southern merger bolsters talk of Amtrak service along I-20 corridor

Federal funds to be sought to study a possible route
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:35 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Two railway companies are on the road to merging.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board this week released a decision approving the merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern, allowing the two railroads to combine to form Canadian Pacific Kansas City, the first single-line railway connecting the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“It’s hard to say that mergers are good overall because very often they aren’t,” said Jim Mathews, president and CEO of the Rail Passengers Association. “But certainly, if this is executed the right way with the appropriate safeguards, we think this could actually be a net benefit for passengers.”

That’s because the CP-KCS merger could mean a possible Interstate 20 corridor route through parts of the ArkLaTex.

Now Amtrak wants to study an extension of a section of their Crescent train that would travel across Mississippi and Louisiana and into Texas.

“On balance, if there’s going to be a merger, if there’s going to be consolidation, we would like to see it happen in this way,” Mathews said. “So at least we see a pro-passenger management team looking at larger chunks of the railroad infrastructure in the United States.”

News of the merger came days after Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission announced plans to apply for federal funds to study a possible I-20 route.

[RELATED: Amtrak Host Railroad Report Card 2021]

“Right now, Amtrak serves Shreveport by running Amtrak through way buses connecting over through our train in Longview,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari explained. “Shreveport is already on the Amtrak map.

“This would be a great benefit to the whole ArkLaTex in that the trains that will come down from Marshall to Dallas and Fort Worth will be able to be working with trains that would be coming east and west from Meridian, Mississippi,” he added.

The study would look into a new service between New York City, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth by extending a section of Amtrak’s Crescent train across from Meridian and Louisiana to Texas along the I-20 corridor.

“It will cut a day or so off of travel time,” Magliari said. “Traveling from Dallas or Fort Worth to the East Coast will institute more Amtrak service where it hasn’t been. There will be a need for stations to be developed along the route.”

These are the kinds of services that are truly important in smaller places that are not served by other kinds of transportation, Mathews said. “We’re leaving whole parts of the country, particularly the rural communities and the marginalized communities, out of the picture entirely.”

Amtrak said the study, which has yet to be started, would be funded under a program through the Federal Railroad Administration. They’re expecting to hear by summer or in the fall on whether they’ve been awarded the grant.

Mathews released the following statement:

“Based on CP’s public commitment to work with Amtrak on adding several new passenger train services as part of this merger, in combination with CP’s current status as an industry leader in Host Railroad on-time performance, Rail Passengers (Association) is optimistic that today’s STB decision will result in a better U.S. rail network for passengers.

“However, Rail Passengers is pleased to note that the STB has included comprehensive data reporting requirements that will allow the board to monitor operational patterns on an ongoing basis as this merger is implemented.

“We are particularly sensitive to the concerns of Illinois passengers who are worried that this acquisition will result in more delays for Metra trains. Generally, the U.S. rail industry has suffered from too much consolidation, resulting in regional monopolies and duopolies, slower operational speeds and industry stagnation; it is critical that the STB exercise its regulatory powers to ensure CP’s good operational culture is transmitted to KCS, and not the other way around.”

As part of the conditions for approval of this merger, CP has committed to supporting several new Amtrak services, including:

  • New service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge;
  • Adding trains between Chicago and Milwaukee;
  • Studying the potential for a new service between Dallas/Fort Worth and Meridian, Mississippi, with the eventual goal of connecting to Atlanta;
  • Adding a second daily round trip between Chicago and St. Paul, Minn.;
  • New service between Detroit and Toronto, Ontario.

Below is the Surface Transportation Board’s decision on the Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger: