CN petitions U.S. Court of Appeals to order final decision on Chicago acquisition

Canadian National Rail (CNR) has petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for an expedited ruling that would order regulators to make a final decision on a proposed acquisition near Chicago.

The company is seeking to purchase Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company (EJ&E), a move they say will ease rail congestion throughout their network.

“Given the substantial, wide-ranging public interest benefits of our planned acquisition of the EJ&E, we cannot permit regulatory delay to imperil this transaction,” said CN President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison.

The company says failing to move will cost the Chicago area about $2 billion in economic activity an 17,000 jobs over the next 20 years.

Faced with a Dec. 31, 2008, deadline for completing its purchase of the EJ&E, CN last month proposed a compromise to the STB that would have allowed the agency to rule on the transportation merits of the EJ&E acquisition while completing its environmental review of the transaction.

During this environmental review, CN proposed to maintain an “environmental status quo” by which CN would not shift any of its trains to the EJ&E until that review had been completed. But the agency last week denied CN’s petition.

The STB rejected CN’s compromise solution and the company says continuing uncertainty about the timing of the STB’s final decision on the transaction leaves them no option but to ask the court to compel a final STB decision on the transportation merits of the acquisition.

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