Impacts of freight mergers must be investigated, says former official | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – The largest merger of two railroads in two decades will result in increased freight train traffic across Illinois. A former transport official wants a thorough review to be done on how this will affect communities.

Canadian Pacific Railway Company buys Kansas City Southern. The Federal Council for Surface Transport last month gave the first approval to the merger.

“Under the statutes and by-laws of the Board, this proposed transaction would be classified as ‘Major’ and would be the first major transaction to seek Board approval in more than two decades,” said STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman , in a press release. declaration on the “notice of intent” in March.

Canadian Pacific on Monday announced union groups’ support for the company’s voting trust before midnight for the STB review.

“These letters highlight the significant benefits to unions of a CN-KCS combination,” a statement from Canadian Pacific said.

The sale isn’t necessarily negative, said former Illinois Department of Transportation secretary Randy Blankenhorn, but its impacts need to be studied outside of major metropolitan areas.

“Look at Springfield, look at the metropolis of Chicago, look at our rural Illinois and say ‘how much traffic is there going to be, what does it mean to go through town,'” said Blankenhorn at WMAY. “You’re not going to build a viaduct over every community, so we need to make sure that mitigation includes planning issues so you don’t have saved trains so you don’t have the one after another in your city. “

Possible congestion could also have an impact on passenger rail.

“Most people agree that Amtrak works great when it’s on time, and when it’s not on time it’s usually not their fault, it’s because it’s supported by freight traffic because it can’t pass, ”Blankenhorn said.

The Surface Transportation Board is the federal agency Blankenhorn wishes to review the ongoing merger to ensure that the increase in freight traffic is properly mitigated.

Blankenhorn also said competition could also be at play in the merger, affecting businesses in parts of the state.

“One of the things they are considering is avoiding a lot of the roads they currently use on the west sides of the state and going through Springfield and Gilman and Chicago,” Blankenhorn said. “Well, what’s happening to these communities in western Illinois and these businesses in western Illinois? “

In a statement, CN and KCS said the company was taking steps to create “upstream and downstream” jobs and to “strengthen the pro-competitive nature of their combination.”

“CN and KCS have also agreed to preserve existing route options by keeping the gateways open on commercially reasonable terms,” the company said. “The proposed CN-KCS combination represents a pro-competitive solution that offers unparalleled opportunities for customers, employees, shareholders, the environment and the North American economy.

The STB chairman said he had “full confidence in my fellow board members and our staff to resolve these issues and achieve the substantively appropriate result.”

“The freight rail system is a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure,” Oberman said. “It is both a key engine of economic growth and essential to maintaining our national security. It is important to us to ensure that the United States maintains a robust, efficient, competitive and economically viable surface transportation system that meets the needs of its users. “

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