CPF363 wrote:In the 1980s, what was the motivation for CP's purchase of MILW? They already had a line to Chicago via the old Soo Line; what was wrong with it? If CP wanted access to Kansas City, couldn't they had considered purchasing the northern portion of the Rock Island instead? Rock Island would have given them access to Kansas City and Omaha from the Twin Cities and Chicago, with the southern end of the Rock Island going to Southern Pacific. Dollars spent on MILW to not only purchase it but also to rebuild it could have been spent to enhance their existing Soo Line trackage along with improvements to the Rock Island as well. The big question: What did CP really gain by getting the MILW?
Firstly, Soo Line Railway, rather than CP Rail System. Though CP held most of the stock, they primarily allowed Soo to do what it needed to do. In fact, I understand that the MILW purchase was one of the driving factors for CP to start exerting more control over the Soo.
The CN, ex-WC, ex-Soo, nee-WC Ry. line to Chicago is the most roundabout line still extant between Chicago and the Twin Cities. That, and the collection of Soo lines in northern Wisconsin had and has a fairly low traffic density, unlike the Milwaukee with plenty of online shippers and a much, much shorter and less heavily-graded line between the two metropolitan areas.
The Soo Line did try to purchase the Spine Line from St. Paul to Kansas City, and IMO that would have put them in a much better position to compete with the UP and BNSF. Less duplicate track to sell, a much more direct path, etc. However, the C&NW won that prize. For whatever reason either the Soo didn't try to gain the parallel C&NW-owned CGW/M&StL route as a condition of the merger, or it was unable to do so - those lines, by themselves or in combination with the MILW system, would have created a relatively direct MSP-KC line.
MILW's purchase gained Soo a line with more potential earnings per mile than their Lake State Transportation Division, as well as a much more direct and better-graded path to Chicago from the Pacific Northwest. It also forestalled a MILW purchase by the Grand Trunk Western, in other words CN, and kept their Iron Lariat from encircling Lake Superior for another twenty years.