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updated: 12/8/2011 1:25 PM

Feds eye CN records after derailment near Bartlett

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  • A Nov. 3 train derailment near Bartlett will be the subject of a Surface Transportation Board audit.

      A Nov. 3 train derailment near Bartlett will be the subject of a Surface Transportation Board audit.
    Daily Herald file photo by Brian Hill/bhill@dailyh

 
 

Federal regulators will scrutinize the Canadian National Railway's records following a November train derailment near Bartlett.

It's the second time the Surface Transportation Board will conduct an audit of CN's operation of the former EJ&E Railway, which runs through the north, west and south suburbs.

"The second audit will include an assessment of the information submitted by CN related to the derailment that occurred ... on Nov. 3," the agency's director wrote to CN officials Tuesday.

"We will be working and fully cooperating with the auditors on completing a timely and accurate audit," CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said.

The Bartlett derailment is still under investigation by the Federal Railroad Administration. No one was injured, but drivers, school buses and Metra trains were disrupted by road shutdowns as workers tried to upright and move toppled rail cars. Some of the cars contained hazardous materials, which did not spill.

The incident raised old fears from communities that fought CN's purchase of the EJ&E because of concerns over safety and traffic. The government ended up agreeing to the acquisition because officials supported CN's argument it would decrease freight congestion in the region overall.

In a letter to CN, STB Director Lucille Marvin said the agency wanted to verify railroad operational reports from November and December and to check progress regarding rail improvements and two grade separations. Auditors also will scrutinize grade-crossing delays, including one at Diamond Lake Road and Route 60 in Mundelein.

In spring 2010, the STB took CN to task after independent auditors uncovered the railway underreported crossing delays by about 1,400 incidents in November and December of 2009.

The railway remains under STB oversight despite approval of CN's purchase of the smaller EJ&E nearly three years ago. Because of the intense opposition to the merger, the STB imposed numerous conditions, including a requirement CN provide monthly reports about operating conditions such as crossing blockages of 10 minutes or more.

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