Canada OKs CN merger with Wisconsin Central

MONTREAL -- Canada's antitrust regulator has approved Canadian National Railway's $800 million merger with Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp., leaving U.S. approval as the final big hurdle to the takeover deal, the railway said on July 10.

CN, which is Canada's largest railway and the fifth largest in North America, said the Competition Bureau in Ottawa had approved the merger. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) has deemed the deal as a "minor" transaction and is expected to make a final decision by Sept. 7, if no environmental assessment is required and there is no oral argument, CN said.

The STB's designation of the CN-WC merger as minor is key to CN's chances of gaining U.S. approval, as the regulatory agency has imposed tough new rules on major rail mergers.

Amtrak looks for additional revenue

WASHINGTON -- Amtrak is branching out in pursuit of new income to stay in business, from souvenirs to cell phone service, real estate development to express package delivery.

In fact, the national railway now gets 43 percent of its revenue from non-passenger business, up from 29 percent in 1990.

Congress has given Amtrak until 2003 to wean itself from annual government subsidies, something the railway has failed to do in its 30-year history.

Amtrak's revenue from passenger trains grew by 10 percent last year, to $1.2 billion, while revenue from other ventures grew by 15 percent, to $886 million, according to Transportation Department Inspector General Kenneth Mead.

The outside ventures also include operating or maintaining commuter railroads for state or regional authorities. But the railroad's expenses are growing fast, fueled largely by interest from debt to buy new equipment. Amtrak's 2000 operating loss of $944 million was the largest in its history.

Railroad CEOs vow to improve service

WASHINGTON -- Tough new U.S. rules on railroad mergers have stalled further consolidation for now and the industry is set to focus on improving service and winning back customer and investor confidence, two top North American railroad executives told a Senate panel.

Chief executives John Snow of CSX Corp. and Paul Tellier of Canadian National Railway Co. told the Senate Surface Transportation Subcommittee that the industry is poised to enter into alliances that provide many of the benefits of mergers without the regulatory hassle and disruptions in service.


2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers