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7/2/2008



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Illinois congressman proposes bill to block CN's EJ&E deal


Canadian National Railway Co.'s plan to acquire the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co.'s (EJ&E) principal lines in the Chicago region has garnered a lot of opposition from communities and politicians in Illinois the past few months. Now, one state politician has taken his concerns one step further by proposing legislation that would block CN's attempt to gain access to a key part of the lines by designating a portion for commuter rail.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) recently announced plans to introduce the Reaching for the STAR Act, which would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to designate a 36-mile stretch of EJ&E right-of-way as a "Corridor for Inter-Suburban Commuter Rail" for Metra's Suburban Transit Access Route, or STAR commuter-rail line. The USDOT would provide technical assistance to expedite the completion of an inter-suburban commuter-rail project and prohibit increased usage of the corridor except for commuter rail.

The 55-mile STAR Line would link nearly 100 communities from Joliet to O'Hare International Airport and connect to a rail system along Interstate 90.

"With rising gas prices ... many suburbanites in the surrounding communities desperately need access to more efficient and cost-effective transportation options," said Roskam in a prepared statement. "What they don't need is increased freight rolling through their backyards."

CN is seeking Surface Transportation Board approval to acquire a major portion of the 198-mile EJ&E, which operates a mainline that encircles Chicago and runs through Waukegan, Joliet and South Chicago, Ill., and Gary, Ind. The Class I plans to name the operations the EJ&EW West Co.


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