More trains to hit EJ&E next week

Published: 3/6/2009 5:47 PM | Updated: 3/6/2009 6:13 PM

A pair of CN trains will make an inaugural run through enemy territory Tuesday on the EJ&E Railway.

The Canadian National Railway announced Friday it would start putting more trains on the "J" next week. The EJ&E runs in a semicircle between Waukegan and Gary, Ind.

Up to 24 more freights will travel on the EJ&E once CN has finished $100 million in track improvements. But for now it's just two trains scheduled for Tuesday between Mundelein and Matteson in the South suburbs, CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said.

The trains will not be run in rush hour, but no exact time was available.

The issue tore apart the region with towns along the EJ&E fighting the plan because of worries over noise, safety, delays for emergency responders and pollution.

CN argued that it would reduce trains using its busy lines in Chicago and nearby suburbs, which not surprisingly gained it support in those communities.

The railroad's purchase of the EJ&E was approved by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board Dec. 24. Federal regulators agreed with CN's contention that the move would be good for the region overall because it would free up a freight bottleneck in Chicago.

CN has committed more than $60 million for improvements such as safety gates in communities along the EJ&E and has signed deals with 11 towns for individual mitigation, most recently West Chicago.

Barrington has led the charge against the merger and is suing the STB in appeals court, saying its decision was arbitrary and flawed.

Barrington Mayor Karen Darch said the village would do its part to inform residents about the changes.

"The main thing is we want people to be aware," she said. "I have visions of high school kids with headphones walking along Lake Cook Road (where an EJ&E crossing is located) and not paying attention."