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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Chicago suburbs express concerns over CP-KCS merger (updated)

Chicago suburbs express concerns over CP-KCS merger (updated)

By | December 16, 2021

Eight communities ask residents to submit comments to STB

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Locomotive next to wood station building
Locomotive next to wood station building
An inbound Metra Milwaukee West line train passes the former station in Bartlett, Ill., now a museum, in November 2018. Bartlett is one of eight communities on the route expressing concerns over increased freight traffic expected from the CP-KCS merger. (Trains: David Lassen)

ROSELLE, Ill. — Eight Chicago suburbs are forming a coalition to voice concerns over the potential increase in rail traffic through their communities if the Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern merger is approved.

The suburban Daily Herald reports Roselle, Elgin, Barlett, Hanover Park, Schaumburg, Itasca, Wood Dale and Bensenville are asking residents to submit comments to the Surface Transportation Board no later than this Friday, Dec. 17.

Roselle Mayor David Pileski told the newspaper the increased rail traffic is “going to create more pressure on our community and be a safety hazard for the people living here.”

The merger filing by CP and KCS indicates the route through those would see an increase from three to 11 freight trains daily within three years of the approval of the merger [see “CP and KCS project dramatic rise in daily train counts,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 2, 2021]. The communities also see up to 40 commuter trains a day on Metra’s Milwaukee District West Line.

In the merger application, the railroad indicated it would work with towns along its routes concerned about increased traffic: “We will work hard to be a good neighbor and mitigate potential adverse community impacts,” CP CEO Keith Creel wrote.

— Updated at 8:25 a.m. with Creel comment on mitigation.

32 thoughts on “Chicago suburbs express concerns over CP-KCS merger (updated)

      1. Opposing increased rail traffic will result in increased highway traffic. Freight will move, one way or the other, if it’s by a single train or four-hundred trucks.

  1. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking as well. It’s not unreasonable to want to close as many grade crossings as possible, but we all know that gets expensive very quickly, especially in built up areas.

  2. That route used to see a heck of a lot more traffic than 11 trains a day back in the 90’s and prior. In Hanover Park I see no problem since their are over passes for Route 20/Lake Street and Barrington/County Farm Roads. Housing has been by the Hanover Park tracks for well over 50 years now and some going back to the 1800’s. Same with the other towns along this route especially Bloomingdale, Bartlett, Roselle and Elgin. Hate to say it but the NIMBY’s are stirring the pot.

  3. As a former resident of Bartlett and Elgin, I wonder WHY does connecting the line through those communities show increase from 3 to 11 freight trains a day simply because of connecting corporately two lines in Kansas City?

    1. Charles, traffic that was once interchanged with other railroads will now have single line service. That will increase the number of freights per day.

    1. What this is is The Battle of Glenview 2.0. The NIMBY/ anti the growing of railroad freight and passenger service just moved from the well-heeled northern suburbs to their equals “out west”. I suppose IL DOT will jump into this fracas and lobby the STB to kill the merger just like the former killed the long freight sidings at Glenview and with it the chance to add 3 additional Amtrak round trips CHI-MKE.

      1. IDOT just had a long drawn out fight with CP about condemning Bensenville Yard, in order to expand the Tri-State Tollway. Give that the yard is supposed to gain additional importance, IDOT may have another reason to object to the merger. But if there are fewer trucks on the highway that is a reason for it. Obviously residents are more likely to complain than truckers taken off the road.

        1. “IDOT just had a long drawn out fight with CP about condemning Bensenville Yard,”

          Who won that fight, CP or IDOT? Will Bensenville Yard be condemned?

          1. Mr. Laszek, would you please expand on that? Last I read, and it was at the Newswire, that ILDOT and CP were fighting over the right to build the Elgin-O’Hare Expy’s O’Hare extension over part of B’ville Yard, a project that would require pulling up several tracks in the yard. But total condemnation was not part of it.

  4. Most of the towns in the coalition are blue collar working class. Let the lawsuits begin. The biggest winners here will be the attorneys representing both sides. Ca-ching!

  5. While I do hope the merger is approved, except for the likely loss of a great locomotive paint scheme and some variety, 11 mile(s) long trains is greatly different than 3 of them or the multiple trains that probably ran in the 1950s. Hopefully there can be more grade separations built, even if expensive.

  6. No different than folks retiring to Florida to escape northern winters, then complain about the hurricanes, and congestion on the highways.

  7. This will only be an issue if CPKC runs those PSR like consists through the area between Bensenville and Elgin. And as for the communities along the ROW, the BNSF and UP run way more over the Aurora and Geneva Subs, so get a grip on your inconvenience. Just look at how they have worked with it and go from there.

  8. As to Chris comments. CPKS see a big boost in traffic that they will take away from other carriers because what Chris noted, single line service from Mexican Manufacturing & Gulf Coast Chemical sectors to major metro areas from Chicago, Detroit to Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and vice versa.

    What is interesting as well as is car ferry/float service running out of Mobile to Mexico doubled down with two new vessels replacing an older ship, one being in service already w other I think this coming Spring. The service gives CN the same single line service just not as robust as CPKS but none the less the option to tie some of the Mexico/Gulf Coast Chemical with same consumer markets.

    So I see the 3 to 11 trains as optimistic but realistically somewhere in the middle. However, not a bad play to start on high end of projections and deal with NIMBY issues sooner

  9. You buy a house by the tracks, it’s up to the railroad how many trains they run. Two trains a day or twenty or more, that’s the railroad’s prerogative. A change in rail traffic does not require compensation to nearby homeowners.

    As for the grade crossing issue, well, look at the Burlington. Four or five trains an hour off peak, more than that through the Metra rush hours, lots of grade crossings — well that’s life, deal with it.

    1. To be fair. Two folks including you have brought up the BNSF line to Aurora, but it has three tracks and has always been quite busy. The CP line has only two tracks to Elgin and freight wise probably has not been busy for decades

      Anyway, hopefully the STB look at the benefits/harms to the region and country as well as individual communities and weight those to the former heavier.

  10. When it comes to these kinds of things, ignorance knows no bounds. Here’s a true story:

    About fifteen years ago I was at a public meeting for a proposed light-rail line that would have been built adjacent to a class 1 railroad main line. Well into the meeting, one of the public involvement consultants began his part of the presentation by saying “When you moved into this community, you undoubtedly observed the trains going by….” At which point a woman stood up and hollered “But we thought it would be a TRAIL by now!”

    So there you have it – A main line handling several daily freight movements, plus Amtrak, is nothing but a trail (except that it just hasn’t been finished yet)!

    1. Similar issue on what is now the CN Iowa division, (former Illinois Central). For several years the IC had been downgrading the line. From double track to single track, then down to these exceptionally long grain hopper moves in the fall on the weekends. (Some really obscure grain coop hoppers could be seen in these runs)

      Thinking it was going to disappear like the CGW after the CNW bought it, developer sales people told customers that the railroad was “failing” and its conversion to a trail could happen in the next 2 years. IC spun it off as the Chicago Central & Pacific and it survived (barely). After CN purchased the IC, they didn’t waste a second and bought back the CCP and today hosts several movements a week.

      It will never become a trail. But those people bought houses there after being convinced by the developer it would become one.

      1. Add “race” to the NIMBY mix, you would have had the politics in the city of Cleveland at the time of the CSX – NS reshuffling of Conrail routes. Too early in the morning to post the details of that dispute and how in the end it was resolved.

        There are some mighty fine homes directly adjacent to highly trafficked rail routes into Chicago. But to increase traffic on a rail line in a working class or a minority neighborhood is seen as an attack against the residents.

      2. John same thing happened to my old boss till I showed him a newspaper article. He was looking at buying a house by the old Lackawanna cut off. The realtor told him that it was an abandon rail line that the tracks had been pulled up. Now tracks on a small part are being relayed an a lot of talk of reopening it all the way to Scranton PA. Just shows you what goes around comes around.

  11. CP and IDOT reached an agreement so the fight is over. CP plans to reconfigure the yard to make it more efficient for longer trains, slightly enlarge the Intermodal area, and add a transload area and a vehicle compound. Some of these changes are dependent on final approval of the merger with KCS, and won’t happen for a few years.

  12. The town that should express concern in Ottumwa, Iowa. CP’s former Milwaukee Road route across southeastern Iowa is supposed to see much more traffic. In Ottumwa, CPKC crosses BNSF at grade, and at the bottom of a steep hill. I can see traffic, both rail and car, backing up as more trains cross the diamond. BNSF races through town, relatively speaking, but thanks to the grade and curves, no CPKC train will be nearly as speedy.

    1. I just looked at that BNSF-CPKC diamond in Ottumwa and I think it will be OK. CPKC has sidings with a block signal controlling traffic in and out of Ottumwa on both sides of the river. From what I can tell, even if a BNSF consist is passing through and a CPKC gets all the way down the hill, there is another block signal (Lawler East) in the valley before they reach the diamond. The signal on the west side is at Quincy Ave.

      But some of those grade separations CPKC has heading north out of Ottumwa look pretty decrepit and look like something out of the MILW era of the 1920’s. I would be concerned if they are increasing traffic, how long those relics are going to hold up, especially 11 movements at PSR train lengths.

  13. If they think 11 freight trains a day is bad for the community, how do you explain Wheaton or Downers Grove doing just fine with three or four times that number?

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