There Is A Problem With The Chicago Bypass

Norfolk Southern Corp. wouldn’t work with the Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc.‘s (GLBT) proposed freight-rail line that would bypass the congested Chicago area, according to a letter the Class I filed last month with the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

The STB has been accepting comments and holding hearings about the GLBT’s proposal to construct a 278-mile freight-rail route around the Chicago area, which the company has stated would help to speed up freight transportation and provide additional capacity for growing rail traffic.

The rail line would run through parts of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Specifically, the line would extend from LaPorte, Ind., through Illinois to Milton, Wis., and would connect with Class Is.

In a letter dated May 23, NS General Counsel-Commerce John Scheib said that NS officials understand that the purpose of the proposed rail line is to provide Class Is with more efficient rail operations by bypassing the congested Chicago network.

NS doesn’t believe the rail route would work well with its network, however.

“Norfolk Southern has a robust route network with multiple routes into and out of the Chicago are and also owns its own bypass route that runs directly to Kansas City,” Scheib wrote. “For this reason, we are not inclined to think that the proposed Great Lakes Basin route would work well with our system or that we would be a user of the route.”

In addition, Scheib noted for the record that NS does not have a nondisclosure agreement with the proposed railroad, GLBT, its founder Frank Patton or GLBT President Jim Wilson.

“We have not provided them any detail about our current train movements or traffic volumes,” the NS letter stated.

The STB has been accepting comments and holding hearings in the three states as part of a notice of intent to begin preparations for an environmental impact statement.

The NS letter was the only written comment submitted by a Class I to the STB on the proposed rail line. However, a Union Pacific Railroad spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune in March that UP already has determined that it would not move forward with a discussion on GLBT.

Read more on the Chicago Bypass and a 2014 update

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