The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has affirmed a 1995 order by the Interstate Commerce Commission (now the Surface Transportation Board) approving the merger of two major railways serving the western U.S., despite claims by several electric utilities that the merger would result in unfair rail prices.
The appeals court rejected claims by the electric utilities that the ICC should have assigned trackage rights and imposed rate caps while approving the merger of Burlington Northern Inc. and The Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Co. According to the utilities, as captive customers of the Santa Fe rail line, the "end-to-end" merger of the two rail systems would harm their ability to ship coal to their generating facilities. The utilities claimed that the merger would give the new rail company greater power to foreclose competition among carriers serving the mines where the coal supplies originate. Santa Fe rail line is the only transporter with delivery service to the generating facilities.