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Cincinnati voters to decide if NS can acquire Ohio railroad

NS signed an agreement to acquire CSR in November 2022.
Photo – nscorp.com


The Surface Transportation Board last week approved Norfolk Southern Railway's proposed purchase of Cincinnati Southern Railway (CSR), but the deal can't go through until it's approved by Cincinnati voters.

In their Sept. 20 decision, STB members said that NS' acquisition of CSR would have no anticompetitive impact. The city of Cincinnati now owns CSR, which is operated by the New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway Co., an NS subsidiary.

NS announced in November 2022 it had signed a purchase agreement for the 337-mile CSR, a 143-year-old railroad that operates between Cincinnati and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The agreement calls for ownership of about 9,500 acres and ensures the Class I will own the line in perpetuity while eliminating uncertainty around future lease costs, NS officials said when the deal was announced. The line is one of the highest-density segments in NS' network, averaging as many as 30 trains a day.

NS' proposed acquisition is supported by Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, who recently released an advertisement on social media to promote voters' approval of the sale. In the ad, Pureval said the city could use the sale's proceeds toward the cost of repairing city infrastructure.

A number of local community groups — as well as the Railroad Workers United union — oppose the sale. Cincinnati voters will decide the deal's fate on Nov. 7.