E J and E Train Traffic to Soar

McHenry County residents taking Rout 14 or Lake-Cook Road through Barrington—which my commuting wife strongly recommends against—or Cuba Road through Lake Zurich, get ready to wait for a lot more trains.

The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that the Canadian National Railway Company has purchased the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railroad Company.

It runs from Waukegan southwest through Lake County, then down the Fox River Valley through Barrington, West Chicago, Aurora to Joliet, where it continues east through Frankfort, Matteson and Chicago Heights to Gary, Indiana.

This is the track that Metra Chairman Jeff Ladd wanted to run passenger trains on .

The Canadian Northern has a splendid play for its own business.

That’s because Chicago is a national railroad bottleneck.

Quoting CN President Hunter Harrison, the Tribune reports, ”it now takes longer to go from North to South Chicago than it does to go from Winnipeg to Chicago.”

I remember South Side Democratic Party legislators tried to create a governmental entity to improve the railroad track mess down there—under the urging of Congressman Bill Lipinski, if I remember it correctly.

House Republicans went ballistic, but, since improving the system made sense to me, I voted for it. Something not on the surface must have been at stake because Lee Daniels’ assistants surely tried to get me to change my vote.

I’m sure that even with passage of that bill the problem would not be solved to Canadian National’s satisfaction.

So, it’s time for grade crossings where there are none and local residents can dream of over or under passes as they wait in long lines to get to and from work.

The article says the deal won’t close until mid-2008.

I’m pretty sure that part of this line was going to be used to run passenger trains from Crystal Lake to Gary, Indiana.

No, really.

In the mid-1970’s RTA chairman Milton Pikarsky stood near the current location of Nick’s Pizzera, which was right next to the offices of the then Crystal Lake Herald, and announced such service was in our future. I’m sure he got a front page story, but I wasn’t invited to the press conference.

The plan was to use the railroad right-of-way now occupied by the Prairie Path. The tracks ran through old East Dundee, downtown Elgin and points south.

I always had a hard time figuring out why anyone would want to go from Crystal Lake to Gary, but I guess some would take the train to Elgin and Aurora.

When the RTA didn’t try to keep the McHenry County Conservation District from buying the right-of-way, it was obvious that Pikarsky was blowing smoke.

The images can be enlarged by clicking on them. The map is from the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad web site.


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