Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘Chicago

Deal for Chicago Rail Line Approved

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Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Wednesday approved a merger of rail companies, in a move designed to relieve rail and auto traffic congestion in the Chicago area.

The board unanimously approved the Canadian National Railway Co.’s purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. from U.S. Steel Corp. Canadian National offered to pay $300 million for the line and spend another $140 million to upgrade the line and help communities mitigate the traffic impacts.

There was a lot of politicking around this one – but it came down to some communities against others. And despite the “threat” that the election of Barack Obama was supposed to pose to the deal, common sense prevailed.

This will also be good news for Prince Rupert – as the route from there to the midwest will now see significant time savings.

EJ&E rail train at Gilmer Road in Hawthorn Woods

EJ&E rail train at Gilmer Road in Hawthorn Woods

Written by Stephen Rees

December 24, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Railway

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Chicago could be a toddlin’ town again

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The Economist provides a useful summary of the disaster of transit in Chicago. I put a link to it here since we need every so often to know that however bad our system might be there is always someone who is worse off than you. The Economist calls it “ineptitude” but all the players will think they are being rational. That’s the problem with democracy. It requires the elected representatives to think more broadly than their own local interest, and the short term rewards of being selfish. That is what is meant by “responsible” government. Not just thinking about how to I get re-elected, but what is best for all of us in the longer term, even if I have to take some flack from people who have less public spirit.

I do not think that Chicago is going to decide that the way to solve this problem is to have the state governor appoint the whole of the CTA board – and dictate to them how to pay for the system by making state funding conditional upon following his prescriptions for fares and taxes. I suspect that eventually a deal will be done – and I must admit that sometimes when you forecast a “doomsday” it actually has to happen for people to take it seriously. Unfortunately American politicians have been playing variations on brinkmanship for many years and it has become part of the culture. And in other cities in the US this kind of crisis has seen private sector solutions – often extra-legal ones – pop up quite quickly, as one person’s crisis is another’s opportunity. But I am glad we can watch this from a distance as I suspect this “learning opportunity” will be very uncomfortable for some for a while yet.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 4, 2008 at 10:20 am

Posted in transit

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