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CN moves on PTC

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A $10-billion unfunded mandate regarding "positive train control" -- wherein trains will need to be outfitted with GPS technology that'll detect when trains are near each other -- may hamper the railroad industry as a whole, but as far as Canadian National's plans for Northwest Indiana go, it's full steam ahead, the Gary Post-Tribune reports.

The railroad company has
big plans for the city’s Kirk Yard during the three-year upgrade and expansion
of its $300-million EJ&E acquisition, Canadian National Senior Manager for
Governmental Affairs Kevin Soucie told the Gary Chamber of Commerce at its
monthly luncheon Monday.

Those plans have yet to be
ironed out, he admitted, but $100 million has been earmarked for the upgrade to
the Blue Line, which circles Chicagoland’s outermost rim and ends at Kirk.
Another $60 million will go toward mitigation.

"We’re still looking
at the logistics, particularly around stations near Bartlett and Mundelein,
Ill.," said Pat Waldron, public affairs manager for CN’s southern region.
"As far as commuter rail goes, those companies tend to go where tracks
already exist, so there’s that to consider as well."

Freight transport will
continue to be the fastest, least expensive way to transport items as long as
Congress keeps regulation at bay. Freight and rail transport prior to 1980 was
sluggish and expensive, and customers abandoned it as a reliable method in
droves, Soucie said.

Once the Staggers Rail Act
of 1980 was passed, railroads were able to phase out across-the-industry rates,
establish contracts outside of Interstate Commerce Commission review and work
with each other on reciprocal switching, among other provisions.

The act turned the rail
industry into the leanest transport mode there is, and it’s remained as such
for the last 30 years, Soucie said. It moves hundreds of millions of freight
tons per year, keeping it off the roads.

"If rail can’t move
it, the highway will, and I don’t have to tell you what that’s like during rush
hour," Soucie said. "A single train takes hundreds of trucks off
roads."

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