Controversial Canadian Pacific, Kansas City Southern rail merger gets OK from

U.S. Surface Transportation Board approved a controversial merger between the Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railroads Wednesday but imposed conditions reflecting opposition from communities and other railways.

However, the “board concludes that this merger will not increase safety risks in any meaningful way beyond whatever level of risk exists from the current daily moves of trains through the communities served by CP and KCS,” board members concluded.

Metra, members of Illinois’ congressional delegation and numerous suburbs fought the plan warning of gridlock at crossings, potential derailments and commuter train delays.

The board also appeared to agree with CP’s estimate of eight more freight trains being added to the Chicago area per day; local leaders and Metra disputed those figures and anticipated more.

Conditions include a seven-year oversight period of freight traffic in the Chicago area to see if “operational issues” occur for Metra’s Milwaukee District trains and a dispute resolution process triggered if Milwaukee North and West trains are late for consecutive months, establishing community liaisons in Chicago to work with community leaders.

The STB “expects that this new single-line service will foster the growth of rail traffic,

shifting approximately 64,000 truckloads annually from North America’s roads to rail, and will support investment in infrastructure, service quality, and safety,” officials said.



“The transaction is also expected to drive employment growth across the CPKC system, adding over 800 new union-represented operating positions in the United States.”

The STB also did not appear to recommend CP subsidize any grade crossings in the Chicago area.

CP’s $31 billion acquisition would create an intercontinental freight railroad stretching from Mexico to Canada. Canadian Pacific predicts the move will create jobs and move goods faster, but The Coalition to Stop CPKC — which includes DuPage County, Bartlett, Bensenville, Elgin, Itasca, Hanover Park, Roselle, Wood Dale and Schaumburg argued it would hamper first responders. A Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palatine, Ohio, raised the merger stakes for opponents. A total of 38 railcars left the tracks including some with vinyl chloride that was released into the environment, devastating the small town. “The risks associated with the merger, as proposed, are apparent and have been communicated clearly to the STB,” Bensenville…

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