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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Illinois' federal lawmakers urge STB to put off CP-KCS merger decision


Federal lawmakers from Illinois have asked the Surface Transportation Board to defer its decision on the proposed merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern until the board conducts a "more thorough and accurate study" of its potential impact on the Chicago area.

In a Feb. 17 letter, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Delia Ramirez (all Democrats) wrote that the STB's recently released environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed merger relied only on data provided by CP and ignored more comprehensive modeling provided by Chicago commuter railroad Metra, whose tracks CP trains operate on.

The lawmakers urged the board to conduct a supplemental analysis using modeling provided by Metra or by conducting its own independent modeling. The STB's EIS did not question or analyze the legitimacy of CP’s projects, despite Metra’s modeling showing the merger would increase freight traffic through Chicago more than CP claimed it would.

Metra estimates the merger would result in an increase to 18 trains per day on the Milwaukee District West Line from Bensenville to Elgin. CP indicated the merger would result in just three more trains per day.

"The EIS fails to reconcile the fact that there is significant uncertainty in the data," the lawmakers wrote. "Unless the STB ensures the reliability of CP’s projections, it cannot accurately assess or quantify the true environmental impacts of the proposed merger or determine the appropriate mitigation measures required to project the safety of local communities to ensure the reliability of regional commuter railroad operations."

The STB issued its final EIS on the proposed merger on Jan. 27. A final STB decision on the merger is anticipated in the coming weeks.