Freight in Illinois

Chicago continues to be a bottleneck in the nation’s rail freight system. We have pressed for creative funding and effective leadership to make the region’s freight system work.

Jim LaBelle, Vice President of CM 2020 appears on Chicago Public Radio's
Worldview news magazine to discuss EJ&E purchase

Jim LaBelle was on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview program on February 5, 2009 discussing the purchase of the EJ&E railroad by Canadian National with Mayor Karen Darch of Barrington.

If you'd like to listen to this segment you can click here. It is about 16 minutes in total length.

CM 2020 Releases Study on Economic Benefits of Purchase of EJ&E Railroad by Canadian National (December 2008)

The Canadian National Railway’s plan to divert freight trains to a suburban rail line would ease the freight traffic gridlock in northeastern Illinois and spur a growth of $267 million in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, including more than $60 million in the Chicago region’s Gross Regional Product.

A study released by Chicago Metropolis 2020 on December 3, 2008 prior to the ultimate approval of the acquisition by the Surface Transportation Board on December 24, 2008 projected that the purchase of the EJ&E Railway by the CN could create 649 net new jobs in the region with total new annual salaries of $39 million and a growth in annual sales in the region of more than $160 million.

The study was conducted by the Economic Development Research Group, a Boston consulting firm using state-of-the-art tools to evaluate the economic impact of infrastructure projects, and Carl Martland, a freight consultant and senior research associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • To read our press release, click here.
  • To download a summary of the report's findings, click here.
  • To download the full report, click here
  • To download two appendices to the full report (with additional technical details), click here.

Chicago Metropolis 2020 Says Railroad Plan Could Ease Rail and Highway Congestion and Benefit Regional Economy

Chicago Metropolis 2020 recently delivered a “statement of support with conditions” to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the federal regulatory agency with jurisdiction over railroad mergers and sales regarding the proposed acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern West Railway Company (EJ&E) by the Canadian National Railway Corporation (CN).

In our statement , Jim LaBelle, Vice President of Chicago Metropolis 2020 states that, “CREATE, the $1.5 billion project intended to make freight movement more efficient, has begun at a slow pace, but Canadian National is proposing to invest its own money on the EJ&E to help achieve the goals of CREATE It could yield substantial transportation and economic benefits for the entire region.”

  • To read more from our statement, click here.
  • To read our press release on this subject, click here.

The Metropolis Freight Plan: Delivering the Goods

In a complimentary effort to our work on issues of Land Use and Transportation policy, in December 2004, Chicago Metropolis 2020 unveiled a series of recommendations aimed at preventing costly gridlock of the movement of almost $1 trillion in freight in the Chicago region – a gridlock that would make congestion even worse for commuters and damage the economy.

The release of The Metropolis Freight Plan: Delivering the Goods marks the first time in many decades that the Chicago region has had the benefit of an independent and extensive examination of the region’s freight system, and it outlines not just the problems but also the steps that Chicago Metropolis 2020 believes are needed to prevent future freight gridlock and to secure the economic benefits of growing freight traffic.

This report is the result of a two-year effort on the part of Chicago Metropolis 2020 to analyze current state of the freight industry in the Chicago region and review our capacity to address anticipated growth in freight movements as we move toward the year 2030, and where necessary make recommendations for policy and other changes necessary to improve our capacity to compete in this area.

In addition to the 36-page freight report, we have prepared an exhaustive technical report both of which can be downloaded below. Both the freight report and the technical report are large files. You are strongly encouraged to use a right mouse click and choose the "save file as" feature of your browser to download these files.

If you would prefer receiving a hard copy of the report, you may contact us and we will mail one to you at no charge.

  • To download a copy of the freight report, click here.
  • To download a copy of the freight technical report, click here.
  • To review the press release announcing the release of this report, click here.
  • To contact a member of the staff regarding freight issues, click here.