Canadian National merges local railroads

2012-12-31T14:15:00Z 2013-01-01T13:50:03Z Canadian National merges local railroadsBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

Canadian National Railway has completed a merger of its EJ&E Railway into its Wisconsin Central subsidiary, in a move the company said will have no impact on extensive improvements it pledged when it acquired the EJ&E in 2009.

The merger of the two railroads was undertaken to attain operational efficiencies and service improvements in the Chicago Terminal with a unified workforce, said Canadian National Senior Vice President Jim Vena.

Voluntary agreements were recently reached with unions representing workers at both railroad subsidiaries, allowing the merger to take place, according to a statement from Canadian National. The railroad filed notice of the intended merger with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board on May 23.

Canadian National specifically noted the merger will not alter the Surface Transportation Board's continuing oversight and jurisdiction over the railroad's 2009 acquisition of the EJ&E. In approving the purchase, the federal agency required the railroad to undertake numerous mitigation measures to lessen the impact on local communities.

Those have included improvements at rail crossings in in Griffith, where there is a major EJ&E junction. The railroad also took steps to improve communications with local emergency response agencies in all communities where the EJ&E operates.

In one of the most extensive mitigation measures ordered by the Surface Transportation Board, Canadian National will pay 78.5 percent of the cost of a highway overpass planned on U.S. 30 over EJ&E tracks in Lynwood. The project has an estimated price tag in excess of $30 million. Construction is expected to commence in 2014.

In its application for acquiring the EJ&E, Canadian National said it planned to increase train traffic on the EJ&E as much as three-fold, raising alarm among local communities about impacts on vehicle traffic and public safety.

The EJ&E runs in a 198-mile arc through suburban communities outside the city of Chicago. Wisconsin Central tracks provide access from Canada, where Canadian National has major intermodal ports, to Chicago.

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