November 6, 2021


Although both stockholder and regulatory approval remain to be obtained, it appears that Canadian Pacific Railway will be allowed to acquire Kansas City Southern Railway Company. The merger will be the first marriage of Class I railroads in decades and, according to pundits, likely the last. Two facts make this merger particularly interesting:

  1. The two railroads have no parallel routes, which is unusual for railroad mergers. The only place where the two roads meet is in Kansas City. This makes regulatory approval easier, though other railroads will register objections because that’s what railroads do in such cases.
  2. The combined railroad will be a true North American railroad, with major routes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In principle, a single train could travel on the combined railroad, which will be called Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC), from Mexico City to Vancouver.
Each railroad traces its origins to the nineteenth century. Canadian Pacific dates from 1881; Kansas City Southern to 1887.

Canadian Pacific CEO Keith Creel was interviewed by Bill Stephens for Trains. He indicated that the combined road will honor the histories both of CP and KCS. His chosen name for it is indicative of that intention. He did not speculate as to what livery CPKS locomotives will wear. CP locomotives have lately been red with white lettering, with “CP” on the nose. The traditional KCS livery sported a striped pattern of red, yellow, and Brunswick green (a very dark green) or black. Some recent locomotives have been monochromatic with “KCS” painted in large red capitals. Not so long ago, CP locomotives and rolling stock sported a “CP Rail” legend, along with a design of a black triangle within a white semicircle.

According to the Trains, Creel restored the traditional CP logo on his first day on the job as CEO. (See image at right. The logo has had a number of variants over the years and appears on some locomotives.) Creel called the beaver “near and dear to our hearts.” (It wasn’t clear to whose hearts he was referring.) Creel had this to say about a new logo: “The beaver will be part of that when it’s finalized, there’s no doubt in my mind. So it won’t be a huge retooling of our logo. It will be an enhancement that will honor the KCS team, and I think we’ll make them proud to be a part of it.”

Creel’s fondness for the beaver is a bit hard to understand. The current logo—the red “CP” is a recent addition—has a definite nineteenth-century air about it.

The KCS logo (See image at left) hardly seems like a twenty-first-century design, but neither does it seem ancient. I fear that Creel might simply affix “KC” to the existing “CP” add-on and re-center the resulting text. This would hardly suggest a forward-looking, expanded Class I railroad. Nor would it “honor the KCS team” very much.

Retaining the beaver would heavily emphasize the Canadian heritage of the merged road, failing to acknowledge as significantly its United States and Mexican appendages. Creel was not asked if he intends to keep the maple leaf as well.

If CPKC really has to retain the Canadian rodent, I have a suggestion to offer, a suggestion that would afford recognition to all three countries through which CPKC runs and honors both CP and KCS heritages. Put a sombrero on the beaver and portray him eating a steak.

Likely, Creel will not take my suggestion. If we must have a beaver, a more stylized, modernized beaver could be part of the new logo. (Think of the Morton Salt, umbrella-carrying girl who was significantly modernized some years ago.) The circle, ribbon, and shield have to go, along with “Canadian Pacific.” Not retooling the CP logo is a terrible idea. Creel needs to leave the logo design to professional designers.

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