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STB orders CN to explain blocked-crossing counts in Chicago area


Yesterday, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced it’s directing CN to appear before the board and “explain the significant differences” between data on Chicago-area grade crossing blockages provided by the railroad and the results of an independent audit.

As a condition of its approval of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. acquisition by CN, the board requires the Class I to provide monthly reports on every blocked crossing lasting 10 minutes or more. In CN’s November and December 2009 reports, it reported a total of 14 blockages caused by stopped trains, but an independent audit conducted on behalf of the STB by HDR Inc. found 1,457 blockages from stopped or slow-moving trains during that same period, according to the STB. The board hired HDR to conduct the audit after receiving numerous complaints about blocked crossings from community leaders and elected officials.

CN and HDR will appear at a hearing April 28 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the accounting differences. The Class I needs to explain why “submissions to the board on crossing blockages of 10 minutes or more differ from data automatically reported by its own crossing gates, and why the railroad did not disclose that it had such information,” STB officials said in a hearing announcement.

The board also ordered CN to include all crossing blockages of 10 minutes or more, whether they result from stopped or slow-moving trains, in all future reports. The Class I also must supplement any previous reports that omit data for lengthy delays caused by slow-moving trains.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/22/2010