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‘Canadian Pacific Kansas City’ name is an awkward mouthful

By Jim Wrinn | September 16, 2021

Large railroad companies with honored histories could come up with something better than a jumble of nouns for a name

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Red locomotive leads multicolored locomotives in snow
Red locomotive leads multicolored locomotives in snow
Canadian Pacific could be back in the lead as the potential merger partner of Kansas City Southern, following a Saturday decision by the KCS board. Here, a CP train with KCS locomotives is westbound at Orrs Lake, Ontario, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Brandon Muir)

 

Now that the months long battle for Kansas City Southern is over and Canadian Pacific has won, let’s get down to the important part for those of us who cover railroading for a living and those of us who have reverence for great railroad titles: the name of the new company that will carry on the traditions of CP and KCS.

Right now, it’s set to be called Canadian Pacific Kansas City.

Yes, you read that right. That’s an awkward mouthful. It hardly makes sense. Even as initials, CPKC, it is going to be messy. It makes me wonder if someone at the corporate level with a little bit of creativity can come up with something more imaginative and more descriptive than the new company’s self-chosen name.

For more than 40 years we’ve endured one railroad merger after another that has resulted in a name that’s one smash up of consonants after another with little or no meaning to the public or employees. BNSF is a great railroad but one that deserves an appropriately grand title. Even the executives know it. When I interviewed Mike Ward, he said that he wished CSX had a better name. Chessie. Seaboard. Either one would work! Norfolk Southern worked about as well as any smashed name (and fortunately there was a regional railroad of the same name that came before it), but now that coal is out, intermodal is in, and the headquarters are moving to Atlanta this fall, it no longer works.

Taking pieces of the old names and jamming them together is just plain lazy (Canadian Southern). So, just for consideration, let’s pitch out a few fresh names for our friends in Calgary to review.

First up, Midwest North American. It hits the primary operational area and the fact that this outfit stretches from Canada through the heartland of the U.S. and into Mexico. It’s a fresh start, and for a new railroad system whose fortunes are connected through Davenport, Iowa, that’s a good thing.

If that’s too long, how about just Midwestern. Again, it’s where the railroad thrives. We already have one railroad, Union Pacific, whose name leans west from the get-go. NS speaks of Atlantic coast leanings. Why not one railroad name to reflect that its fortunes are plainly about cities like Chicago, Kansas City, and Minneapolis?

CP could take the UP approach and just name the whole thing Canadian Pacific, but that does little political good in places like Shreveport, Dallas, or Meridian, not to mention south of the border, that are about as far away from Canada as they can be.

I hate to see CP’s traditional beaver logo fade way about as much as I hate to see KCS’s classic and colorful red, yellow, and black scheme become part of history. I also hate to see another railroad merger result in a crummy name we’ve got to live with for the next 40 years. Here’s to a real classic name for the merged railroad, one that railroaders, investors, and the public can get excited about.

76 thoughts on “‘Canadian Pacific Kansas City’ name is an awkward mouthful

  1. I never thought a name mattered much until there was local uproar about CN increasing the traffic and blocking more crossings more often on the old EJ&E. “Why should we let some Canadian company create more traffic backups for us?” people asked. Public perception matters even if it’s off base.

  2. I dunno. Maybe it would best just to call the whole company Canadian Pacific and be done with it. If there was opposition in Chicago and New Orleans to Canadian National wiping out the Illinois Central name it’s pretty much dried up by now. Of course, they could always start out as CPKC then slowly change the brand to plain old Canadian Pacific while keeping the new reporting marks.

  3. See my comment in the other article. Andy Sikorski posted under the wrong article so I replied there.

    Short form of my long reply: “Canadian Pacific”.

  4. It’s a Canadian registered company, I can’t imagine them dropping that from the name. As much as Americans might not like it, the US is their least important market.

  5. I guess I’m in the minority who doesn’t find the abbreviation ‘CPKC’ objectionable. Perhaps it’s because the industry I work in already has a ‘CPK’ in common use. For me, adding the extra ‘C’ rolls off the tongue.

  6. Does the corporate legal name need to be the same as what the public sees/how the railroad is marketed? Unless there is an obscure STB/FRA requirement, I don’t think so. For example, IC Industries was the holding company that owned the Illinois Central (later Illinois Central Gulf), and a host of other companies that were not necessarily railroad-related. I think there was something similar for the Santa Fe and maybe one or two others. So perhaps CPKC could be the holding company with the railroad known as something else. While I’ll hate to see KCS go, I think the UP approach makes the most sense: Canadian Pacific.

  7. To really communicate where the new railroad will go, how about Canadian Pacific, Atlantic, Kansas City Southern and Mexican Atlantic & Pacific Again?! Easy to pronounce at CPAKCSMA&PA [ka-PAK-ka-SMA-pa].

    1. Hopefully, Braden. An unfortunate precedent is that CSX was just a handle for that merger — forty years later we’re stuck with it.

      My read is that the new name Canadian Pacific Kansas City was to smooth the merger through KCMO HQ – then got a life of its own.

    1. Good concept, but too many other things have been marketed under the name Continental. There’s the Lincoln Continental, Continental tires, Continental-Trailways bus (remember them?), not to mention that some Americans have a habit of referring to anything European as “Continental”. And of course, then, there’s the continental breakfast….

    2. Then Continental Rail can be contracted to Conrail. Somehow that has a familiar ring to it. I’m picturing blue locos as the new scheme.

      Seriously, I hate to lose KCS, but might as well stick with Canadian Pacific for the merged line.

    3. Good idea, but the name is already in use by a Florida-based company is a Florida-based company called Continental Rail LLC. Continental Rail originally had ambitions of short line ownership, but I think they settled for railcar ownership/leasing/repair operations.

    1. On paper, UP still owns several subsidiary entities still actively named “Southern Pacific…” Also, I would suspect that UP probably retained trademark rights.

  8. How about the “Beaver” keeping the CP logo with the colors of the KCS. Or even,the “Southern Beaver” or “Beaver Southern.”

  9. No worse than BNSF. or CSX, once you get used to it it will roll off the tongue. Or then can go with KCCP with the logo being interlined C’s.

  10. Sticking with my Canadian Pacific & Atlantic keeping in spirit that CP is buying out KCS (think UP buying SP) and a Canadian company after all. In addition, CP is a true transcontinental touching on both Pacific and Atlantic Ocean (Gulf being essentially a big bay of the Atlantic Ocean).

  11. Considering that it was CEO Keith Creel himself that suggested adding Kansas City to the Canadian Pacific name I highly doubt you’ll get something new, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be smart and keep both roads paint schemes. It wouldn’t harm anything, it wouldn’t confuse the customers(something that was mentioned when BNSF decided to go with a unified paint scheme) and it would please both the PR departments and employees(those are the most important). We railfans have no say so in the naming of the company, and honestly there’s nothing wrong with CPKC.

  12. ContinentRail – works in English and French
    ContinenteRail in Spanish

    There’s even an Easter egg hidden in the brand – tRail, or “trail”

  13. Look at the system map: Gulf, Mississippi & Northern (GM&N) Describes its location and sounds like a railroad name too!

  14. Why not keep it simple and just call the newly formed railroad North American Railway since it joins the three North American nation?. Develop a completely new logo for the new corporation and leave the past in the past.

  15. CPKC, Radio station call sign in the city I live in, also first four digits of my motorhome license plate. I’ll go with that!

        1. When within range driving across Ohio or Indiana:

          From the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building, This is the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR, Radio 76 Detroit

          R.I.P. Joseph Priestly (“J.P.”) McCarthy

  16. Now just hold the phone. We shan’t be renaming the company that created Canada. It is Canadian Pacific as it was intended by God and shall remain Canadian Pacific lest my grandfather begin to spin in his grave.

    *note: this is a non-serious reply. Except the part about my grandfather.

  17. Yes Greg Williams, could not agree more with you. Looking at it trying to be open minded and not offend anyone the name should be kept as Canadian Pacific. As mentioned earlier in these posts, CP is buying KCS. This is just as Union Pacific has done over the years, name always kept. In both cases, two railways of great historical heritage that help build two nations.

    1. As a Canadian I would not like to lose such a storied name as Canadian Pacific. There’d be no Canada without CP. So, I suggest keeping the name as is or adding “Gulf” to the existing name: Canadian Pacific and Gulf R.R.

      1. As a KCS employee I would like to keep KC in the name. Also with BNSF everyone just calls it “the BN” so you can just continue to refer to it as “the CP” and everyone wins.

  18. Calgary and Kansas City Railroad

    Canadian Central Gulf

    North American

    Canadian American (CAN-AM)

    all would have been better

  19. CanUSAMexTrax? Actually, though, I’d hate to see the historic Canadian Pacific name and image, complete with beaver, disappear into the abyss of Canadian global hegemonism. (Hey, why not? In the years before WWI, CPR actually operated branded tourist rail services in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.)

  20. Why even incorporate the KCS leave it CP. They were a minor league RR did the UP incorporate any of the RR’s they swallowed into their moniker? When BN merged the Frisco it was just gone. KCS doesn’t even have the history/recognition that other lost RR’s did just let it fade away.

  21. I’m aligned with Gerald’s comment with regard to CPKC being the holding company and keeping the respective paint schemes. In the spirit of the “name that railroad” contest however, my entry is “Mexico Norte”.
    😉

  22. Just keep it CP It wasn’t a problem for the CN in their takeovers.
    The UP has never added any takeover names to their name.

  23. At the end of the day it will be a corporate decision, most likely just Canadian Pacific Railway or they might even add an “S” and make it Canadian Pacific Railways. Whatever they pick is going to be fine, as long as it’s not a name that makes people scratch their heads going “what does that name convey”: I.E. Stellantis, Truist, Aegis etc.

  24. Canada, Kansas City and Southern. CKC&S.

    Canada and Kansas City Southern (C&KCS) would work too. I based it on the D&RGW name.

  25. I love the Canadian Pacific name and heritage, but it’s time for a corporate makeover with a new name, logo, and paint scheme. Here are my recommendations:

    1. Continental Gateway Railway

    2. Gateway Continental Railway

    3. Continental Pacific Railway (if we want to keep the CP logo and reporting marks)

    I sure hope CPKC doesn’t stick, it’s time for something new. Something that all employees across the three countries can be proud of. No “us and them” but a united front that will act as one seamless transporation network. Please Mr. Creel, can we be a bit more creative?

  26. Canadian Pacific should retain its legendary name after acquiring Kansas City Southern as Union Pacific did after acquiring Southern Pacific. Union Pacific did not change its name to “Union Pacific Southern”. Canadian Pacific Railway’s current name would become among the biggest fallen flags if changed to reflect its merger with Kansas City Southern Railway.

  27. Union Pacific was able to say at least three times, “Sure, we combined the names. We used our first name and their last name.” Western, Missouri, Southern. I suppose you can also count the original CP, Central Pacific (no, wait, that went into SP and didn’t become part of UP until 120-some years later).

    As for the merger being discussed, I’m surprised no one has suggested the obvious one: Kansas Pacific. Or, if UP owns that name (five), acknowledge Mexico as well and call it Kansas Pacifico.

    (Or keep the initials with Canadian Pacifico. Or Canadian Kansas Pacifico.)

  28. Canadian Pacific must remain part of the name but respecting the purchase and additional territory covered, Mark Vinski’s Canadian Pacific International has some merit. However, in all due respect to Kansas City Southern there is also more merit in the name Canadian Pacific and Kansas City i.e. the CPKC.

    As for the Mid-west North American, surely that was said tongue- in-cheek. LOL

    Dick Hawkshaw

  29. Surprised no one mentioned it yet, but why not Canadian Pacific Gulf (or “… and Gulf”)? (Might also be considered a little thumb in the eye of CN, what with they owning what was once the Illinois Central Gulf….)

  30. Canadian Pacific will work just fine, because its new southern extension ends at the major port of Lazaro Cardenas, the deepest port in Mexico with berths for up to 22 ships of various types and TEU capacity of 2.2 million (current volume is 1.2 million).

  31. I do like the Canadian Pacific International suggestion. My idea would be either CANUSMEX Rail System (reporting mark: CRS) or CANUSMEX International Rail System (reporting mark: CI or CIRS).

  32. This SEEMS kind of obvious, but “Canadian-American-Mexican,” with CAM as the reporting marks ( which IS currently available!)

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