CALGARY -- Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. says its proposed acquisition of Kansas City Southern could be approved in about a year, after the U.S. regulator established a schedule for its regulatory review.

The Surface Transportation Board says anyone wanting to participate in the proceeding as a party of record must file a notice of intent by Dec. 13 regarding the US$31-billion transaction, including the assumption of US$3.8 billion of debt.

Various submissions are required before final briefs on the merger are due to be submitted on July 1.

The STB set the schedule after it accepted the merger application as being complete. It previously approved the use of a voting trust for the transaction that allows KCS shareholders to receive payment after shareholders of both company approve the deal and before it receives final approval.

CP Rail shareholders will vote Dec. 8 on the issuance of shares in connection with the proposed acquisition.

The Calgary-based railway anticipates the full review of the merger will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

"We look forward to moving forward with a robust regulatory review of this historic combination that will add capacity to the U.S. rail network, create new competitive transportation options, support North American economic growth, and deliver other important benefits to customers, employees, and the environment,'' stated CP chief executive Keith Creel.

KCS chief executive Patrick Ottensmeyer says the merger reached an important milestone and the U.S. railway looks forward to playing its part in the "historic combination'' with CP.

CP reached agreement with Kansas City Southern after Canadian National Railway Co. said it was dropping its rival takeover bid after the Surface Transportation Board rejected its request for a voting trust.

The merger, which will create the first Canada-U.S.-Mexico rail network, also needs to be approved by Mexican regulators.