by QB 52.32
There's been a lot of posts during the year discussing an NS takeover of PAS, a "tightening of the reins" to go along with the NS thoroughbred symbol, without any consideration of the long history between NS and PAR or the regulatory and economic realities. The STB would have to approve a 100% NS takeover and surely CSX would have grounds to fight it as anti-competitive with G&W probably coming to the party pissed off. Anything anti-competitive in this era is going to have a hard time being pulled off. Then there's the NS bean-counters who would have to justify the purchase and additional operating costs of taking over PAS on the margin which might be difficult even in good times, but NS has its own problems to contend with and as long as their auto and intermodal franchises aren't threatened I think their own justification to assume 100% control of PAS is particularly low. And, lastly, there is the long-term relationship between PAR and NS which has always been hand-in-hand and deep, passed from one generation to the newest. PAS (and the purchase of the ex-D&H lines from CP) are defensive NS moves aimed at protecting their New England franchise more than anything else. While business will trump in the end analysis, I wouldn't underestimate the relationship and don't see the two parties working against each other unless there is a total threat to, again, the NS intermodal and auto business (which hasn't been the case up until this point). I'd be surprised to see NS make a move to take PAS, with or without PAR's blessing, and, I think the relationship give and take will continue just as we've seen it up until this point.