CN Pledges Better Handling of Amtrak Trains

Canadian National pledged on Monday to do a better job hosting Amtrak trains on its network.

During an investor’s call to discuss second quarter earnings, CN CEO J.J. Ruest said his company knows hosting Amtrak service is part of CN’s social license to operate in the United States.

Ruest acknowledged there’s always room for improvement in how CN handles Amtrak trains.

Amtrak and CN have been at odds for years over dispatching and other matters, particularly how Amtrak trains are dispatched between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois.

CN has imposed a minimum axle count on Amtrak trains, forcing them to run with deadhead cars to meet that standard. The two railroads have also clashed over track safety performance issues.

CN managers said during the earnings call that the Montreal-based carrier has an open mind about how to be a better partner with passenger service as well as Amtrak.

That comment might have been aimed in part at criticism of CN’s handling of VIA Rail Canada trains.

CN is seeking regulatory approval in the United States to acquire Kansas City Southern.

The comments made by CN executives were aimed, at least in part, at Amtrak’s opposition to CN plans to place KCS stock into a voting trust while the merger is reviewed.

Opponents of the CN-KCS combination have pointed out that KCS owns a route between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that might be used for future Amtrak service.

During the earnings call, CN executives said it will work with Amtrak to launch that service if funding can obtained for the service.

CN executives said that in the latest Amtrak report car of its host railroads CN was rated as one of the top railroads in terms of service and this is evidence it will continue to work with the U.S. intercity passenger carrier.

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One Response to “CN Pledges Better Handling of Amtrak Trains”

  1. Rail Provocateur Says:

    Until aggressively pushing aside CP in acquisition battle for KCS, CN could care less about timely dispatching Amtrak between Chicago-Carbondale, let alone down to New Orleans on a pathetically padded schedule. This arrogant attitude was also evidenced towards the Illinois congressional delegation.

    The historical record of such antagonism should be enough to prevent CN from assuming KCS, let alone how it would monopolize freight traffic between the Midwest south to New Orleans; New Orleans-Baton Rouge; dominate chemical and oil traffic from the Gulf and Mexico ports.

    Forgetting how it once was a Crown Corporation and benefited from Ottawa investing in infrastructure to make CN attractive in the private market, CN has single-handedly devastated VIA Rail’s transcontinental service, to the extent of forcing VIA to add another night and day to the already padded schedule of “The Canadian.”

    CN has also refused to work in good faith with Amtrak and State of Illinois to construct a passenger only track between Chicago Union Station-Joliet for the Illinois high speed rail line.

    Such a horrific track record should not be rewarded by the STB to further hamstrung current and future passenger service; nor, to dominate freight traffic along key corridors.

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