I'm long skeptical of press coverage of anything more difficult than booth review of completing the process of the catch, and a report filed by a Dave Gathman of the Daily Herald, misinforming yuppies in the northwestern suburbs, is a canonical example confirming my prior.  He looks at the Great Lakes Basin Railroad project from the perspective of suburbanites, from where the interests of Boone County farmers seem parochial, and well, selfish.  But we can be sure that the first benefit is incredible, but not in the sense Mr Gathman thinks it means.
Fewer waits for drivers at the Canadian National's former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern street crossings while two-mile-long trains crawl through such places as West Bartlett Road and downtown Barrington.
A map that accompanies the article gives readers the impression that those trains will no longer be delaying motorists (who lose much more time to the mal-timed and left-on-arrow-only traffic lights than they do to freight trains) if not for those people in Belvidere who "weren't thinking about convenience to people living 50 miles to the east in the suburbs."

What the map does not show are the other CNR lines that connect with the J.  The importance of the J acquisition to CNR is that CNR is the only major railroad to operate main lines north, west, south, and east of Chicago, and it will not short-haul itself by handing cars to Great Lakes only to get the same cars back from Great Lakes elsewhere, unless the shipper has particular clout.

From the north, approximately parallel to Interstate 94, comes the CNR line handling cars from as far away as Vancouver, the prairie provinces, the Cities, and the Head of the Lakes.  Not a single such car will be handled by the Great Lakes.

From the west, approximately parallel to Interstate 90, comes the former Illinois Central line moving grain and ethanol from the upper Missouri River and Iowa.  Yes, Great Lakes promoters intend to build an interchange near the Rockford airport with this line, but I call that interchange Railroad Irrelevant as CNR is unlikely to hand any cars off to Great Lakes there when it can hand them off somewhere along the J or keep them on their own railroad.

From the south, along Interstate 57, is another former Illinois Central line from New Orleans.  CNR have recently built additional connecting tracks at Munger and near Kankakee to move north-to-south and west-to-south trains, and return moves, more expeditiously.

From the east, roughly along Interstate 80-90-94 as far as South Bend, come CNR trains with ladings from as far away as Halifax.

Interchanges between CNR and the other major railroads at existing locations on the J are subject to long-standing and workable divisions of the revenue that would have to be renegotiated in order for Great Lakes to solicit the traffic.

Sorry, Barrington, there will be no respite from those trains.  Furthermore, as Union Pacific have made no commitment to interchange cars with Great Lakes, the freight train interference on the three Union Pacific, the North Central, and the Milwaukee Road North lines is not likely to be affected.

The BNSF Railroad is an interesting case, in that the bulk of its freight traffic, particularly the priority container trains, runs on the old Santa Fe line, which is freight-only east of Galesburg.  And BNSF have a Chicago bypass for traffic headed south, by way of Galesburg and Centralia.

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