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Railroad Issues

FRA Train Horn Rules

In 2005, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings, mandating the use of train horns at all at-grade crossings without adequate warning devices.  Due to the hard work of the NWMC and other members of a regional working group, pre-existing quiet zones in the Chicago region were exempted from this rule.  NWMC and the working group successfully argued that the Chicago region was unique due its historic development patterns around railroads and enforcement of the rule would require either prohibitively expensive grade crossing upgrades or the constant sounding of train horns through densely populated areas. 

The continued goal of the NWMC and the regional working group is to keep the Chicago exemption intact.  


New Quiet Zone Creation

The Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings published by the FRA in 2005 provided municipalities the opportunity to establish new quiet zones.   The Conference, municipalities, Lake County and consultants worked together to create two new quiet zones in the Conference area:

  • Canadian National (CN) Railroad from Antioch to Wheeling
  • Elgin, Joliet and Eastern (EJ&E) Railway from North Chicago to Bartlett
Both of the quiet zones went into effect in 2007.  Due to a change in the federal risk calculation, the CN quiet zone is currently under review.  The quiet zone will stay in effect while the FRA reviews upgrades to crossings in the quiet zone which have occurred since it was established, which should allow the quiet zone to continue.  This approval is expected to occur in July 2012. 


Canadian National (CN) Railway Company Acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern (EJ&E) Railway Company


On October 30, 2007, Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Canadian National Railway Company (CN) (along with its U.S. subsidiary, Grand Trunk Corporation), filed an application with the Surface Transportation Board (Board) seeking to acquire EJ&E West Company, a wholly owned noncarrier subsidiary of Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company (EJ&E) running from Waukegan, IL to Gary, IN. EJ&E was a Class II railroad that operated over 200 miles of track in northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana, consisting primarily of an arc around Chicago, Illinois. This arc extends from Waukegan, Illinois, southward to Joliet, Illinois, then eastward to Gary, Indiana, and then northwest to South Chicago, Illinois, along Lake Michigan.

CN's acquistion of the EJ&E shifted traffic previously moving over CN's rail lines inside the EJ&E arc to the EJ&E rail lines, which traverse the suburbs generally to the west and south of Chicago. Rail traffic on CN lines inside the EJ&E arc should generally decrease. The decreases in rail traffic are offset by increases in the number of trains operating on the EJ&E rail line outside of Chicago (approximately 15 to 27 more trains operate on various segments of the EJ&E rail lines). CN plans include the construction of six new rail-to-rail connections and 19 miles of new sidings and double tracking.

Draft EIS

The Board's Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. The Draft EIS addressed required environmental subjects as well as those environmental issues and concerns identified during the scoping process. The Draft EIS was served on July 25, 2008, and is available on the Board’s website.

Final EIS

SEA prepared a Final EIS that addresses the comments on the Draft EIS from the public and agencies. The Final EIS was served on December 5, 2008, and is available on the Board’s website. It contains SEA's final recommendation for environmental mitigation measures. Decision The Board reviewed the Final EIS and issued a decision on the proposed project. In reaching its decision in this case, the Board took into account the Draft EIS, the Final EIS, public comments, and the environmental analysis and recommendations, including any environmental mitigation proposed by SEA. On December 24, 2008, the Board issued Decision No. 16 stating that the Board approved, with conditions, CN's acquisition of the EJ&E rail line. The approval was effective on January 23, 2009. 


Regional Railroad Resources

More information on regional railroad issues can be found at: