CN to Acquire IANR (Updated Feb. 2 with STB Filing)

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
(IANR Photograph)

(IANR Photograph)

CN on Dec. 6 signed and closed an agreement to acquire Iowa Northern (IANR), an approximately 275-mile U.S. Class II (regional) railroad that it interchanges with in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. Terms were not disclosed. An application was filed with the Surface Transportation Board on Jan. 30, 2024 (download Public Version below).

According to CN, the transaction “represents a meaningful opportunity to support the growth of local business by creating single-line service to North American destinations, while preserving access to existing carrier options.” The transaction has closed into an independent voting trust pending regulatory review by the Surface Transportation Board. Former Federal Railroad Administrator and career railroader Ron Batory is trustee. A decision is expected in 2024, the Canadian Class I railroad said.

(Map Courtesy of IANR)

IANR serves upper Midwest agricultural and industrial markets, hauling such commodities as biofuels and grain. According to the regional’s website, it handles more than 60,000 carloads per year. Established in 1984, IANR runs diagonally through Iowa northwest to southeast from Manly to Cedar Rapids, with branch lines from Waterloo to Oelwein and from Forest City to Belmond (see map above). When a group led by Daniel Sabin, a second-generation railroader and current Chairman, took over management in 1994, the regional handled 15,000 revenue cars annually and its average track speed was under 10 mph, according to IANR.

IANR also interchanges with Union Pacific (UP) at Manly; Canadian Pacific Kansas City at Nora Springs; and UP and Railway Age two-time Short Line of the Year honoree Cedar Rapids and Iowa City (to Iowa Interstate Railroad) at Cedar Rapids.

“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Iowa Northern Railway,” said CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson, Railway Age’s 2024 Railroader of the Year. “We look forward to the opportunities our combined network will provide customers, farmers, and our partners to respond to the needs of their existing and new markets. By enabling all of us to play an even more important role in this critical supply chain and densifying our southern network, we are accelerating sustainable, profitable growth.”

“We are very pleased to have reached a deal with CN,” Daniel Sabin said. “We believe CN shares IANR’s commitment to local stakeholders and that this transaction will be beneficial for customers, employees and the local Iowa economy. We are confident that, as part of CN, IANR will be able to continue to provide reliable first and last mile service to our local customers while providing them access to a much broader network and market.”

(CN Map from October 2023 Investor Presentation)

For more on IANR, read “Maintaining Laser Focus” in Railway Track & Structures, a Railway Age sister publication.

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