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CN negotiates 26th Chicago-area mitigation pact, receives STB fine for reporting violations


Yesterday, CN announced it reached a voluntary mitigation agreement with the Village of New Lenox, Ill., regarding the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Co. (EJ&E) integration. CN now has negotiated EJ&E-related mitigation agreements with 26 of the 33 Illinois and Indiana communities that are impacted by the integration.

The New Lenox pact calls for the Class I to fund the creation of a quiet zone, implement noise and safety mitigation measures, and provide communications and emergency response training.

“We believe negotiated settlements like the one with New Lenox will help to establish solid ties between CN and the communities through which it operates on the EJ&E, and ensure effective lines of communication in the future,” said Jim Vena, CN senior vice president-Southern Region, in a prepared statement, adding that the railroad is working closely with the remaining communities to work out agreements and comply with Surface Transportation Board (STB) stipulations.

However, the STB said yesterday it fined CN $250,000 for "knowingly violating” board orders regarding the required reporting of Chicago-area grade crossing blockages associated with EJ&E operations — the board’s first ordered fine since it was formed in 1996.

The STB also decided to extend an original five-year integration oversight period an additional year to January 2015, and require CN to conduct additional reporting and complete another audit in 2011.

The board requires the Class I to log every Chicago-area crossing blockage of 10 minutes or more in a monthly report. In its November and December 2009 reports, CN cited a total of 14 blockages caused by stopped trains, but an independent audit found a total of 1,457 blockages during the same period, according to the STB.

“CN's alleged 'good faith' interpretation that the reporting requirements regarded only stopped trains is contradicted by both the CN staff admissions and the plain text of the approval decision” regarding the Class I’s EJ&E acquisition, STB officials said in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/22/2010