WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–December 19, 2014. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced this week that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has extended the oversight period for the Canadian National (CN) Railroad by two years until January 23, 2017. Durbin has made numerous calls for the STB to extend its oversight over the problematic rail company, most recently in a letter to the board this September. A copy of Durbin’s letter to the STB is available here.
In 2008, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) placed CN under an unprecedented monitoring period to ensure the company fully complies with the promises it made when it acquired the EJ&E rail corridor. In that time, CN has been fined for failure to report blockages along the corridor. The current oversight period was set to expire this January 23 2015.
“Canadian National has claimed that track upgrades would decrease the number and duration of blocked crossings along its rail lines. Unfortunately, the experiences of thousands of suburban Chicagoans and the data – thousands of blocked rail crossing and lengthy delays – just don’t support their claims,” Durbin said. “What the evidence of CN’s performance does support is the Surface Transportation Board’s decision today to extend its oversight of this rail company.”
In August, Durbin convened meetings in Champaign and Chicago to discuss issues with CN’s Illinois operations. In Champaign and Chicago meetings with STB Chairman Dan Elliott, Amtrak and local officials, Durbin called for renewed efforts to end rail service delays and long durations for blocked crossings. The Village of Barrington and City of Aurora in particular have been vigilant in promoting increased rail safety, especially for trains carrying crude oil and ethanol. These large unit trains, and other freight trains, are blocking crossings and increasing delays throughout the EJ&E corridor.
Durbin also met with Carbondale officials to hear their concerns about Amtrak delays, caused largely by freight train interference along lines operated by CN. Canadian National has a long history of holding up Amtrak trains and holding back investments that could improve passenger and freight service in downstate Illinois. Persistent delays due largely to freight train interference have caused Amtrak trains on the Chicago-Champaign-Carbondale route to be delayed more than half the time.