CN looks for timely decision in U.S. rail purchase

WASHINGTON, D.C. — CN hopes the Surface Transportation Board (STB) will approve its proposed acquisition of the principal lines of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company (EJ&E) to allow the transaction to close by the parties’ nearing deadline.

CN is urging the STB to do so after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied its petition for an order compelling an immediate STB decision on the merits of the transaction.

CN petitioned the Court on Sept. 18 and the deadline for the transaction is set for Dec. 31.

"While CN is disappointed with the court’s decision, we remain committed to the EJ&E acquisition and we see no reason why the STB cannot rule on the transaction quickly to permit it to close by year-end,” stated E. Hunter Harrison, CN president and CEO. "The U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Industrial Transportation League and other stakeholders have called for an expeditious STB ruling to keep the transaction on track.”

CN and U.S. Steel — the indirect owner of the EJ&E — announced on Sept. 26, 2007, an agreement where CN would acquire most of the EJ&E for $300 million, subject to regulatory approval by the STB.

In the meantime, CN continues to work with the communities along the EJ&E line to reach mitigation agreements to address specific community concerns associated with increased train traffic.

While the Canadian railway has successfully reached an agreement with the City of Joliet, other communities have opposed the railway purchase. As we reported earlier, they contend more rail traffic — expected to be in the form of 20 additional freight cars — would lower quality of life and increase pollution.

CN’s voluntary mitigation plan in which its has committed to meet all of the STB’s established mitigation standards under a program that would cost about $60 million, in addition to the $100 million CN has earmarked for infrastructure improvements on the EJ&E.

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