Friday, January 18, 2013

New England Central Has New Owner

(source: NANCY REMSEN -

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved Genessee & Wyoming Inc.’s acquisition of Rail America, parent company of New England Central Railroad which operates in Vermont. The new ownership takes effect Dec. 28.

The board concluded the acquisition was “unlikely to cause a substantial lessening of competition, create a monopoly, restrain interstate trade, or enhance market power.”

New England Central Railroad hosts Amtrak's Vermonter passenger train which runs from St. Albans south to the Massachusetts border and continues on to New York. NECR recently carried out $74 million in upgrades on its tracks, with $20 million coming from the railroad and $52 from an economic stimulus grant.

Christopher Parker, executive director of the Vermont Rail Action Network, welcomed the change.

“G&W brings strengths in safety and marketing and customer service. Their rate of injuries is one third of what RailAmerica's had been and is better than all the other major railroads. They have promised more localized decision making regarding rates and marketing which is an important move,” Parker wrote in an email about the acquisition.
He said he understood the change in ownership wouldn’t bring dramatic changes to personnel in the state. “According to statements the company made Wednesday at Rail Council, customer service personnel are staying the same, at least initially. I understand the new company plans to keep open the St. Albans dispatching center, at least for the time being, and will continue and may expand work at the St. Albans mechanical shop. A new general manager will be hired as the line is currently being run with an interim retired manager.”

The Vermont Agency of Transportation had asked the Surface Protection Board to impose conditions on GWI to ensure that New England Central Railroad would “continue various collaborative activities that support high-speed and intercity passenger rail.”

The board rejected VTrans’ request for conditions, but offered in its decision that “GWI and NECR intend to continue collaboration with VTrans following the transaction, and have no intention of breaching any existing written agreements following the transaction.”

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