Piedmont Division Blog

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Freight Train Gridlock and NIMBY

July 29th, 2008 · No Comments

Let's say you live in a small town with a little used one (1) track rail line that runs through central downtown and between various neighborhoods. And lets say that same line has about 3 or 4 regular short line trains that run through every day. Little impact in the neighborhoods, only a few highway and downtown traffic stops a day at a few of the local grade crossings. But let's say a large Class I railroad wants to buy out the short line railroad, take over the trackage rights and start running around 20 to 30 trains a day through the same tracks. This proposal will also increase rail company revenues and offer faster service to it's customers and improve rail car delivery time by two days. This is the proposal that Canadian National (CN) has made for helping to alleviate the snarl and fright train gridlock that hampers travel through the Chicago area for six of the seven largest railroad companies in North America today. Sounds like a great plan that CN is proposing to assist with the current gridlock of freight traffic where a typical West to East bound freight can take up to two days to travel the 30 miles of interchange and freight yards in and around Chicago. A normal travel time from Seattle to Chicago for a freight train is two days, but the same train sometimes needs another two days just to get through the city of Chicago. As many as 500 trains a day roll through the Chicago rail hub, would 20-30 less trains a day eliminate the freight train gridlock?   Canadian National wants to bypass the Chicago bottleneck by moving many of its freight trains out to a bypass route around Chicago, on the Eliot, Joliet & Eastern railroad tracks. CN has proposed buying the EJ&E Railway from its owner, U.S. Steel, for $300 million. But some suburbs and communities along the route are opposed to the CN proposal because it would impact there way of life and create more problems for their communities such as more noise and pollution.   So there are two issues at play here and it is certainly a delimma for those who are directly affected by the freight train traffic re-direct. But at the same time you have a hundred year old rail transportation system that cannot support the modern day level of traffic flow and is causing delays and costing millions of dollars for customers too!   Is the CN proposal the real answer to the snarl issue, or is it just a quick fix band-aid approach?   To read more about this story go to the NPR article by David Schaper, Plan To Unsnarl Chicago Rail Hits Snags In Suburbs

Tags: Operations

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