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STB APPROVES CP RAIL ACQUISITION OF DM&E: The Surface Transportation Board has announced that it has approved the proposed acquisition of control by the Canadian Pacific Railway Corporation (CPRC), and its indirect subsidiary, the Soo Line Holding Company (Soo Holding) (collectively, "Applicants") of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation (DM&E) and its wholly owned railroad subsidiary, the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corporation (IC&E), subject to a number of Board-imposed conditions. In reaching its decision, the Board found that: the proposal encompasses minimal operational overlap among the involved railroads; no shipper will lose the option of competitive rail services as a direct result of the transaction; the transaction will not result in either a substantial lessening of competition, the creation of a monopoly, or a restraint of trade in freight surface transportation in any region of the United States; and any minor, geographical competitive effects that may flow from the transaction are outweighed by its public-interest benefits. In approving the transaction, the Board also addressed the potential environmental impacts of future coal train movements over the lines operated by CPRC and/or IC&E if CPRC decides to construct the new rail line into the Powder River Basin authorized in Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation Construction into the Powder River Basin. The Board held that CPRC and Soo Holding may not transport over CPRC's and/or IC&E's rail lines any coal originating on the new Powder River Basin line until the agency has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement addressing the environmental impacts of those movements and issued a final decision allowing such operations to begin. The Board also imposed a condition continuing the ongoing "Safety Integration Plan" review process as well as standard labor-protective conditions. [U.S. Surface Transportation Board, 9-30-08]

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DM&E SALE WON'T MEAN LAYOFFS, EXEC SAYS: Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad President Kevin Schieffer says today's Surface Transportation Board approval of the DM&E's sale to the Canadian Pacific Railway Corporation clears the way for the CP to become involved in day-to-day operations. Schieffer says he doesn't expect the merger will result in any layoffs of the 1,000-plus employees of DM&E and its subsidiary, the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad Corporation. There's a 30-day appeal period, but Schieffer says he doesn't think that will change anything. Last year, the parties finalized the sale, worth nearly one and a half billion dollars. It was subject to the STB decision -- which was announced today. The CP isn't saying yet whether it will continue the DM&E's plans to build a new line into Wyoming coal fields and ship coal east. [Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, 9-30-08, from Associated Press report]

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SENATOR DURBIN WANTS FURTHER REVIEW OF EJ&E PURCHASE: Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called on federal regulators Oct.1 to expand their review of the proposed purchase of the suburban Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway, to determine the cost-to-benefit ratio to local communities. Durbin made his views on the project known in a letter sent the day before to the federal Surface Transportation Board, the last day of a public comment period on the STB's draft environmental impact statement. The agency is to issue a final statement in the coming weeks before the board decides on the planned purchase by the Canadian National Railway. Durbin, who has not taken a position for or against the purchase, said the draft made available to the public two months ago did not adequately consider the costs, and possible benefits, to communities that will see changes in local train traffic. He said the draft also does not fully weigh possible negative impacts on Amtrak service to Champaign and Carbondale and the METRA Star Line New Start commuter rail project. [United Transportation Union, 10-1-08 from Daily Journal report]

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C.N. WILLING TO PAY MORE ON EJ&E DEAL: The Canadian National Railway is upping its offer to help soften the impact on communities from its proposed purchase of the EJ&E Railroad, the Sun-Times reports. CN said it's willing to contribute $60-million to help pay for everything from creating quiet zones to training local emergency personnel on how to deal with hazardous material spills. Previously, CN said it would pay only $40-million. CN officials said the new offer is unprecedented. The EJ&E tracks rim the Chicago area, cutting through Southland towns such as New Lenox, Frankfort, Matteson and Chicago Heights. CN wants to buy the tracks from U.S. Steel as a means to reroute trains from its five current lines into Chicago. Towns along the EJ&E tracks have balked, saying the many more freight trains on the line will essentially split their communities in two. New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said CN's offer of an extra $20-million won't change his mind that the deal is bad for his town. The proposed sale has picked up the endorsement of Chicago Metropolis 2020, an influential organization of regional business leaders. The group said better use of the EJ&E line could remove as many as 1,000 trucks per day from local roads and reduce shipping costs, resulting in lower prices for consumers. [United Transportation Union, 10-2-08, from Chicago Sun-Times report]