Despite a convoluted proposed merger between the Canadian National (CN) Railway and Kansas City Southern (KCS), the former invested $450 million in Alberta as part of its $3-billion capital investment plan.
CN’s investment will focus on technology, capacity, and infrastructure maintenance to enhance safety and the fluidity of its network. Its program will replace 64 miles of rail, install around 182,000 new railroad ties, rebuild 38 road crossing surfaces, perform maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems, and other track infrastructure.
In a press release, the company said the overall investment plan reflects "CN’s determination to play an important role in the economic recovery and to be part of the climate solution." By creating a more fluid and more efficient network, CN encourages the use of rail for long-haul transportation, leading to 'reduced emissions.'
"Our government salutes CN for its commitment to rail safety and the fluidity of its network while minimizing pollution," said Canada’s Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra. "This announcement will help create good middle-class jobs and help move goods efficiently to market, and people to their destinations."
"We will continue to support green projects that keep Canadians safe, stimulate the economy, and ensure that our rail network remains one of the most efficient and secure rail transportation systems in the world," he said.
On top of more than $1.3 billion invested by the company in Alberta over the past five years, this $450 million investment will continue to employ over 3,200 employees locally. In 2020, CN donated $763,000 to local causes in Alberta and generated $111 million in corporate tax revenues for the provincial government.
The province’s Jobs Minister Doug Schweitzer lauded the investment made as a "strong vote of confidence in the future of Alberta’s economy."
"Our consistent and proactive infrastructure investment strategy and the essential work of our employees and supply chain partners are what enable CN to keep the economy moving safely and smoothly year after year," said James Thompson, Vice-President, Western Region at CN.
"Safety is a core value at CN and we will continue to invest in our track and in technology to support our overall network capacity and provide our customers with safe and reliable service."
The proposed end-to-end merger between CN and KCS will create a transportation network across North America, enhancing competition, spurring economic growth and delivering benefits to the local communities in which both railroads operate. If approved, the transaction provides an enhanced platform for growth, capital investment, and job creation.
KCS abandoned its $25 billion merger with Canadian Pacific (CP), choosing instead a ‘superior’ $33.6 billion bid from CN that also carried greater regulatory risks. Canadian Pacific asserts that their proposed merger with KCS is not a potential antitrust hazard and is more likely to be approved by US regulators, who have stymied major railway mergers dating back to the 1990s.
Despite past issues, Thompson expressed optimism for the future of CN’s pro-competitive merger with KCS, which controls key routes, connecting the U.S. and Mexico. Their hope is to build the 'premier railway' for the 21st Century to better connect North America.