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Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN

Rep. Lipinski, area leaders back CN's EJ&E deal


Canadian National Railway Co. is encountering many opponents to its proposed purchase of a major portion of the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railway Co. (EJ&E). Now, the Class I has at least one major proponent on Capitol Hill and the backing of several area leaders.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) recently announced his support for the transaction. Lipinski, who serves on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, made the announcement in conjunction with several mayors and village presidents of communities along the EJ&E line. Together, they formed the Solutions To Area Rail Traffic, or START, coalition.

"Chicagoland is the rail hub of the nation, and it is also a terrible rail bottleneck," said Lipinski in a prepared statement. "This is a national problem because it takes two days just to get a train through Chicago.  But it is also a local problem because it means idling trains, blocked crossings and train whistles at all times of the day. This purchase can help change that."

CN plans to acquire EJ&E's mainline — which essentially encircles Chicago — from U.S. Steel Corp. for $300 million and rename the operations the EJ&EW West Co. The deal requires Surface Transportation Board (STB) approval. CN recently petitioned the board 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.

Based on data filed with the STB, more than 60 municipalities will note a reduction in train traffic because of the deal, Lipinski said. The deal will not negatively affect Metra's and Amtrak's operations, or Metra's STAR line or Southeast Service projects, he said.
"I strongly believe that it is critical to evaluate this acquisition from a balanced regional perspective," said Lipinski. "Fewer CN freight trains will be running through many communities throughout this region."
In addition, transportation experts from the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University and the Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative at the University of Illinois at Chicago have expressed support for the acquisition and noted the benefits the transaction would bring to the entire region, he said.