Wednesday, April 21, 2010

STB asks CN on street-crossing blockages: 14 or 1,457?

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The Surface Transportation Board said Wednesday that it had directed Canadian National “to come before the board and explain the significant differences between information on street-crossing blockages in the Chicago area that the railroad has provided to the board and the results of an independent audit conducted by the board.”

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STB noted that as a condition of CN’s 2008 acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern, it required CN to report every street-crossing blockage of 10 minutes or more. “In its November and December 2009 monthly reports, the railroad reported a total of 14 blockages caused by stopped trains,” said STB. “But an independent audit conducted on behalf of the Board by its third-party consultant, HDR Inc., found 1,457 instances during that same period of crossings blocked for 10 minutes or more by stopped or slowly moving trains.”

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STB asked CN and HDR to appear at a hearing in Washington April 28 to explain why CN's submissions differ from data automatically reported by its own crossing gates and “why the railroad did not disclose that it had such information.”

It ordered CN in future reports to list all crossing blockages of 10 minutes or more, “whether as a result of stopped trains or slow-moving trains.” The Board also directed the railroad to supplement any previous reports that omit data for lengthy delays caused by slow-moving trains.

STB said it acted after “numerous complaints by community and elected leaders.”