STB Denies Coalition to Stop CPKC Request

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Metra Milwaukee District West Line. Metra illustration.

The Surface Transportation Board on April 5, 2024, by unanimous vote, denied the request of the Coalition to Stop CPKC to modify the reporting requirements imposed in STB’s approval of Canadian Pacific’s acquisition of Kansas City Southern to create CPKC (Canadian Pacific Kansas City). STB’s denial is detailed in Docket No. FD 36500 (Sub-No. 6) (download below).

The Coalition members are the Village of Bensenville, Village of Itasca, City of Wood Dale, Village of Roselle, Village of Schaumburg, Village of Hanover Park, Village of Bartlett, City of Elgin and DuPage County, all in Illinois and along Metra’s Milwaukee District West (MD-W) Line.

The Coalition’s request was buried in the weeds, involving freight train operating and consist length minutia: “[M]odifications to two aspects of the data CPKC is required to provide regarding operations on the MD-W Line … First, the Coalition requests that CPKC report the average length of CP through freight trains traversing the MD-W line between Randall Road and Tower B-17 for all weeks from April 2018 to April 2023, for all weeks from April 2023 to November 15, 2023, and going forward in CPKC’s monthly submissions. The Coalition asserts that, in approving … the merger, the Board relied on findings contained in the Final Environmental Impact Statement that examined the potential impact of the merger on vehicle delays at road crossings using ‘average train length’ data provided by CPKC. Thus, the Coalition argues that CPKC’s reporting of average train length is necessary ‘to accurately assess, on an “apples to apples” basis,” impacts of the merger on crossing delays.’

“Similarly, the Coalition requests that CPKC report average train speeds because the Final EIS relied on average train speed data in evaluating the potential impacts of the merger on vehicle delay and other related impacts. Alternatively, the Coalition requests that CPKC supply corrected and validated milepost data, stating that, although the transit times CPKC is reporting can be used to develop average train speeds if the mileposts are known and are provided in conjunction with the transit time data, ‘CPKC’s narrative description of its first set of transit time data identifies mileposts that produce questionable implicit train speeds for certain time periods for both its October and November submissions.’”

STB noted in its decision that CPKC “states that it does not object to providing the Coalition with average train length figures for the Randall Road-Tower B17 segment and is in the process of preparing a file containing mean train length data for this segment, which it will share with counsel for the Coalition.”

“While the Coalition raises general concerns regarding its ability to assess the impact of the merger on vehicle delays at road crossings (and compare those impacts to the findings in the Final EIS), it fails to demonstrate material error, substantially changed circumstances, or new evidence sufficient to justify reopening the Board’s decision,” STB concluded. “Specifically, the Coalition provides no basis for finding that the reporting requirements … are inadequate for monitoring traffic fluidity or for determining whether any operational disruptions on the MD-W Line might warrant further Board action. Moreover, it appears that CPKC is providing to the Coalition the average train length data that it seeks to monitor impacts within its constituent communities. CPKC has also clarified the milepost data, per the Coalition’s request.”

Although STB’s decision was unanimous, Commissioner Robert Primus concurred with a separate expression. “I concur with today’s decision. However, I maintain my objections to the Board’s approval of the transaction, as stated in my March 15, 2023, dissent.”

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