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Rail News: Passenger Rail

CN addresses Illinois congressmens' concerns over EJ&E acquisition


Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) met with Canadian National Railway Co. President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison to discuss potential impacts of the Class I’s proposal to acquire a major portion of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway (EJ&E).

Their biggest concerns: that the acquisition would jeopardize Illinois Amtrak service and Metra’s proposed 55-mile STAR Line, and increase rail congestion and noise through communities along the line.

As a follow-up to the meeting, Harrison re-addressed the lawmakers’ concerns in a recent letter. CN will allow Amtrak to continue operating indefinitely on the St. Charles Airline after CN trains are rerouted off the line and onto the EJ&E, preserving Amtrak’s access to Chicago Union Station and enabling the railroad to continue providing service to downstate Illinois, he wrote. The Class I also will cap Amtrak’s maintenance costs for the line at the current level, indexed for inflation in future years, Harrison said.

The acquisition would not pose a threat to Metra’s STAR Line, and CN will work with the commuter-rail agency on the project as well as “explore all options for this service, including the use of enhanced EJ&E rail lines,” he wrote.

In addition, CN will meet with communities to discuss a range of mitigation options to address their concerns over increased freight traffic. The railroad will spend about $40 million on mitigation-related measures, Harrison said.