Gilbert B Norman wrote: ↑Thu Jan 13, 2022 12:50 pm For the love of me, Mr. Shortline, I'm at a loss to understand why CN would want it.I think CN's interest stems from a larger growth strategy that they have been pursuing quite openly in the past few years. The former Grand Trunk Western and the Sarnia, Ontario-Halifax, Nova Scotia line are massively underutilized compared to CN's other mainlines. CN has been attempting to grow traffic over these lines as evident by the attempted Massena Line purchase along with CN's acquisition of two trucking firms.
By connecting Kansas City with Detroit, Eastern Canada, and especially the ports of Halifax and Saint John, CN can run intermodal and automotive trains from the low-cost Canadian ports to the heart of the continent in competition with CP and soon CSX, thereby putting volume on rails that would otherwise not be there. Sure, Kansas City-Detroit automotive traffic in competition with NS is a big factor but is not the only one.
Of course, there are problems to be worked out. Both the Gateway Western and Illinois Central Gilman Sub would need to be massively upgraded and the bridge over the Mississippi River would have to be either upgraded or fully replaced. (I bet you a big chunk of that $250 million CN wants to commit would go towards that project alone.) The problems I don't think are insurmountable and CN in the past has been able to turn lines that were mediocre at best into something worth envying. (Just look at CN's line between Chicago and Western Canada.)
As for what BNSF and NS want, well... BNSF's requested Dallas-Shreveport rights seem to be an attempt to directly connect with NS for intermodal traffic, suggesting BNSF is interested in using the Meridan Speedway. The requested Robstown-Laredo rights the REALLY interesting and basically give away that Mr. Buffet is looking to swipe KCSM away in the near future! (Remember that KCSM has exclusivity over the concession until 2027, with the concession ending in 2047. "Exclusivity" means that until 2027 only KCSM can use those lines.) I have zero ideas what the Savanna-Clinton rights would be used for... With the recent announcement of the MRL acquisition, looks like BNSF is out on the offensive again.
NS is also interesting as direct access to Dallas/Fort Worth seems to be a play for so-called "watershed traffic," which is traffic that threads the arbitrary east-west railroad dividing line. (This traffic could be worth billions if it could be fully captured.) NS having basically unrestricted access to these lines would make CPKC's presence a lot less pronounced as a significant amount of traffic along these lines is destined for NS.
Now, will CP and KCS agree to these concessions? Almost certainly not without receiving something in return. Perhaps people's ideas of a joint CPKC-NS "Wabash Speedway" could finally come to fruition in this manner! I sure hope so.
Barbecuing in Chessie's backyard. Host of "Shortline's Rail News & Comment."