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CN's EJ&E-related STB reports not up to snuff, coalition claims; reports comply with board mandates, Class I says


The Regional Answer to Canadian National (TRAC) recently filed comments with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) claiming that CN failed to detail numerous incidents in its mandated monthly operational report concerning the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway (EJ&E) integration.

The coalition of communities in six Chicago-area counties cited a brushfire caused by a sparking locomotive and various operational problems — such as quiet zone violations, and excessive noise, vibration and idling — as incidents the Class I didn’t include in the report.

In addition, CN “repeatedly failed” to disclose all grade crossing delays, TRAC officials said in a prepared statement. In its report, CN cited 50 delays of at least 10 minutes in February and March, but did not mention at least 18 other delays in the same timeframe, they said.

As a result of the “inadequate and misleading reporting,” TRAC asked the STB to appoint an independent monitor with investigative subpoena powers to audit CN's operations as it shifts freight traffic onto former EJ&E lines, coalition officials said. In addition, the board should mandate that the railroad underwrite the full costs associated with such an appointment, TRAC officials believe.

"This lackluster report reinforces the need for more transparency," said Aurora Mayor and TRAC Co-Chairman Tom Weisner. "[CN’s] rhetoric does not match their action, and it's time for the STB to hold them accountable."

However, CN has complied with the reporting requirements outlined by the STB in its decision approving the EJ&E transaction, and the reports specifically address the information the board has requested, says CN Manager of Public Affairs-U.S. Patrick Waldron. For example, the board seeks reports on crossing delays caused by stopped trains and blockages lasting only 10 minutes or more. Many of the delay complaints listed in TRAC's letter were due to slow-moving trains, which are regular occurrences on any rail line, Waldron says.

“The April report was the first submission in the process in which CN is providing the information requested by the STB as we move forward with the EJ&E integration,” he says. “In consultation with the STB, we are continually reviewing our procedures in collecting, analyzing and reporting the data.”

Jeff Stagl

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/11/2009