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CN reaches terms on EJ&E-related agreement with Joliet

Dozens of communities along the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co.'s (EJ&E) mainline still oppose Canadian National Railway Co.'s plan to acquire a major portion of the EJ&E's Chicago-area line. But one large city now backs the transaction.

Yesterday, CN announced it reached an agreement with Joliet that resolves the city's concerns about quiet zones, operations and communications surrounding the transaction. If the Surface Transportation Board (STB) approves CN's application to acquire control of the EJ&E line, the railroad must fulfill its commitments to Joilet within three years.

The pact's terms call for "significant" investments in track improvements and roadway features along the route through the city, CN officials said in a prepared statement. CN plans to acquire the line from U.S. Steel Corp. for $300 million and rename the operations the EJ&EW West Co.

As stated in the STB's Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the transaction, the board encourages voluntary agreements between CN and local communities. The railroad is trying to reach voluntary mitigation agreements that address "reasonable environmental concerns associated with increased train traffic," the Class I said.

"We have consistently been willing to work with and address the concerns of communities across the region," said CN Senior Vice President-Southern Region Gordon Trafton. "We believe this will be the first of many agreements between CN and the communities along the EJ&E line."

CN recently petitioned the STB to modify its procedural schedule to issue a final decision on the transaction's transportation merits by Oct. 15. If the STB does not act by Sept. 15, the Class I plans to petition the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to compel the board to issue a final decision before year's end.

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More News from 8/26/2008