USA: On March 10 the Surface Transportation Board formally approved the Patriot Corridor joint venture between Norfolk Southern and Pan Am Railways. Effective from April 9, this paves the way for a new joint venture company, Pan Am Southern LLC, to begin operations on May 1.

Under the agreement announced by the two railways on May 15 2008, the jointly-owned company will upgrade and operate the former Boston & Maine route between Mechanicville, New York, and Ayer, Massachusetts, providing a competitive alternative to CSX’s Boston & Albany route.

Pan Am Railways and two subsidiaries (Boston & Main and Springfield Terminal) will transfer to PAS the 250 km Patriot Corridor plus 450 km of secondary and branch lines in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. NS will provide cash and property valued at $137·5m, with $87·5m to be invested over the next three years to improve speeds and enhance capacity along the route.

STB found that the transaction would produce ‘substantial transportation benefits’ for the region. ‘I commend the management of Norfolk Southern and Pan Am Railways for their vision in developing a transaction that will give more New Englanders access to first-rate freight and passenger rail service’, said STB Chairman Charles Nottingham.