Berkshire & Eastern Readies for PAS Operations

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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Nearly 18 months after CSX acquired Pan Am Systems, Inc. and its short line subsidiaries, Berkshire & Eastern Railroad is set to take over as operator of Pan Am Southern LLC (PAS).

CSX in spring 2022 completed its Pan Am Railways acquisition, expanding the Class I’s reach in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, while adding Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to its existing 23-state network. Headquartered in North Billerica, Mass., Pan Am had owned and operated a nearly 1,200-mile rail network across New England, with a partial interest in PAS that it had jointly owned with Norfolk Southern (NS; see map below). PAS comprises 400-plus miles of rail lines and trackage rights routes, including main lines between Ayer, Mass., and Albany, N.Y., that provide both CSX and NS access to the Boston area.

A point of contention had been who would operate PAS, which gave NS access to New England via trackage rights on the former Boston & Maine Mechanicville, N.Y.-Ayer, Mass., main line, the “Patriot Corridor,” strengthening competition with CSX.

In signing off on the acquisition, the Surface Transportation Board allowed Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad, LLC, doing business as Berkshire & Eastern Railroad, to replace Pan Am affiliate Springfield Terminal as the neutral operator of PAS. Also, in its April 14, 2022 decision, STB allowed NS to acquire trackage rights over certain lines of CSX, Providence & Worcester Railroad Company (a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming), Boston & Maine, and PAS.

Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary Berkshire & Eastern will now start operations Sept. 1, a G&W spokesman has confirmed to Railway Age. The railroad is headed by General Manager John Connelly.

PAS interchanges with Canadian Pacific Kansas City (Mechanicville, N.Y.); Batten Kill Railroad (Eagle Bridge, N.Y); The Central New England Railroad (Hartford, Conn.); Connecticut Southern Railroad (Hartford, Conn.); CSX (Ayer, Mass. and Rotterdam, N.Y.); Housatonic Railway (Derby, Conn.); Naugatuck Railway (Waterbury, Conn.); New England Central Railroad (Brattleboro, Vt., Millers Falls, Mass., and White River Junction, Vt.); NS (Mechanicville, N.Y.); Pioneer Valley Railroad (Holyoke, Mass.); Providence & Worcester (Gardner, Mass.); Vermont Railway (Bellows Falls, Vt., Hoosick Junction, Vt. and White River Junction, Vt.). It offers 286K main line from Rotterdam, N.Y. to Ayer, Mass.; 286K from East Deerfield to Springfield, Mass.; and 263K elsewhere.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) in March reported that 60 members employed by the Springfield Terminal ratified a New York Dock Implementing Agreement with the Springfield Terminal and Pittsburgh & Shawmut Railroad LLC (Berkshire & Eastern Railroad). “The implementing agreement addresses changes in operations resulting from the [merger] transaction and applies protective conditions,” BLET said at that time. “In addition, the implementing agreement sets forth the process to divide the workforce between ST [Springfield Terminal] and B&E [Berkshire & Eastern Railroad] and defines the limits of the railroads after the change over date.”

Also starting Sept. 1, G&W’s Jack Hellmann will transition to Executive Chairman of the company’s North American and UK/Europe Boards of Directors, following 16 years of service as G&W CEO. He will also become Vice Chair of Brookfield Infrastructure, the controlling shareholder of G&W, which owns or leases 115 freight railroads with 7,300 employees serving 3,000 customers. North American operations include 110 short lines and regionals that serve 43 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces over more than 13,000 track-miles. G&W subsidiaries and joint ventures also provide rail service at more than 30 major ports, rail-ferry service between the U.S. Southeast and Mexico, transload services, and industrial railcar switching and repair.

In other G&W news, subsidiaries Georgia Central Railway, L.P. and Heart of Georgia Railroad, Inc. on Aug. 10 filed a petition with the Federal Railroad Administration to pilot new zero-emission rail-freight technology from Culver City-based Parallel Systems on portions of their rail lines. Additionally, Wabtec on June 27 reported that it will deliver 69 “certified pre-owned” locomotives this year to six of G&W’s U.S. subsidiaries in a deal that includes an extended warranty.

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