Frequently Asked Questions
The following addresses frequently asked questions about the Board’s Oversight and Monitoring of the Canadian National Railway Company’s (CN) Acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Company (EJ&E).
What is the purpose of this website?
This website is intended to provide important information on the Board’s oversight of the CN acquisition of the EJ&E. The Board approved the acquisition on December 24, 2008, subject to numerous oversight and monitoring conditions, and required CN to submit monthly operational and quarterly environmental compliance reports to the Board during a 5-year oversight period. The first reports from CN, both monthly and quarterly, were due to the Board on April 10, 2009, and are available on this website. (See Monthly Operational Report or Quarterly Environmental Report) This website also provides guidance on how to submit comments on these reports. (See the Public Comments page). (Back to top)
What is the Surface Transportation Board (Board)?
The Board was created by the ICC Termination Act of 1995 as a successor to the Interstate Commerce Commission, and is responsible for the economic regulation of freight railroads under the Interstate Commerce Act, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 701-727 and 10101-16106. Among its various duties, the Board reviews railroad proposals to construct and operate new rail lines, abandon unneeded rail lines, or acquire and operate other lines or other railroads.
The Board is a bipartisan body with three members (Chairman, Vice Chairman and Commissioner), appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, for staggered 5-year terms. The President designates one of the members of the Board to be Chairman. As of Fall 2009, Daniel R. Elliott III is the Chairman, Charles D. "Chip" Nottingham is the Vice Chairman, and Francis P. Mulvey is a Board member. (Back to top)
What happens during the 5-year oversight period?
The Board established an oversight period for 5-years so that it may assess the competitiveness of service provided by CN upon implementation of the proposed transaction, the various service and other impacts of the transaction, and the effectiveness of the various conditions imposed. If operational problems arise after the effective date of the transaction, this oversight condition provides an effective mechanism for quickly identifying and addressing them. The Board retains jurisdiction to impose additional conditions and take other action if, and to the extent, the Board determines it is necessary to address matters related to operations and environmental mitigation following the transfer of control. The Board finds that an initial 5-year duration is appropriate, so that the oversight period will begin with the implementation phase (which applicants expect to be completed within 3-years after consummation of their acquisition of control over EJ&E) and continue for a 2-year period following the full implementation of the operating plan. At the end of the 5-year oversight period, the Board may elect to extend its oversight for an additional period if conditions warrant.
During the oversight period, the Board will closely monitor whether applicants have adhered to the various representations made on the record in this proceeding. To accomplish this goal CN will provide to Board a monthly operational report and a quarterly environmental report on the implementation of environmental mitigation. CN shall continue to report these measures on a monthly and quarterly basis during the oversight period. (Back to top)
Which Offices within the Board are responsible for monitoring the Board’s oversight process?
The Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance (OPAGAC) serves as the public's point of contact to the Board as well as the agency's outreach arm. It works with members of Congress, the public and the media to answer questions and provide information about the Board's procedures, regulations and actions. The office also oversees all aspects of rail operations to ensure that such operations are consistent with each carrier's statutory responsibilities. The monthly operational report will be reviewed and monitored by OPAGAC’s analysts with expertise in rail operations.
The Board’s Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) is responsible for directing the environmental review process for matters that come before the Board, conducting independent analysis of all environmental data, and making environmental recommendations to the Board. The quarterly environmental report will be reviewed and monitored by environmental specialists in SEA. (Back to top)
Is the Monthly Operational Report and the Quarterly Environmental Report available to the public?
Yes, the monthly operational report and quarterly environmental report is available on the Board’s Oversight and Monitoring of the CN Acquisition of EJ&E Web site (www.stbfinancedocket35087.com). To view the reports please go to the Monthly Operational Report and Quarterly Environmental Report pages for more information. The reports will be posted in chronological order beginning with the April 10, 2009 reports. (Back to top)
How can I submit comments on the CN's Monthly Operational Report and CN's Quarterly Environmental Report?
Comments may be provided in one of three different ways:
- Comments may be recorded on the toll-free hotline at 1-800-347-0689,
- Comments may be E-filed on the Boards’s website at www.stb.dot.gov, or
- Comments may be submitted in writing.
All written comments should reference STB Finance Docket Number 35087.
Written comments on the CN's Monthly Operational Report can be mailed to:
Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street SW
Washington, DC 20423
Written comments on the CN's Quarterly Environmental Report can be mailed to:
Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street SW
Washington, DC 20423
All comments will be reviewed by the Board’s staff and posted on this website. (Back to top)
Where can I get more information on the CN-EJ&E acquisition case or other proposals currently before the Board?
Please visit the Board’s website at http://www.stb.dot.gov/. The Board maintains an electronic public docket and information system designed to permit prompt and easy public access to all filings and comments submitted to the Board and decisions issued by the agency. Information about the CN-EJ&E acquisition case can be found by referencing: STB Finance Docket No. 35087, Canadian National Railway Company and Grand Trunk Corporation Control-EJ&E West Company. The Board also maintains a project specific website at http://www.stbfinancedocket35087.com/. (Back to top)
What is a quiet zone and where can I get more information about them?
A quiet zone is one or more public grade crossings where the railroad is excused from sounding the familiar "long-long-short-long" horn sequence upon a train's approach to a grade crossing. It is important to note that this does not mean that a train will never sound its horn within an established quiet zone. Federal regulations and railroad operating rules require that the engineer sound the train's horn in several instances, such as when approaching people or equipment working on the right-of-way. Moreover, engineers are permitted to sound the horn in a quiet zone if they believe that a situation exists that warrants operation of the horn, such as the presence of pedestrians or animals crossing over the tracks. A quiet zone is unrelated to other sounds associated with railroads, such as engine noise or the sounds of cars moving on the rails.
The Board has put together some basic information about quiet zones, where they're located along the former EJ&E arc, and information about how to apply through Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a quiet zone area. The information can be found on the Quiet Zone Information page of this website. Additional information may also be found on the FRA's Train Horn Rule website. (Back to top)