SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin Thursday called on federal rail officials to investigate frustrating delays along the Amtrak route connecting Carbondale and Chicago.

In a letter critical of the company that owns the tracks -- Canadian National -- Durbin invited the federal Surface Transportation Board to visit Illinois to observe a number of problems with CN's operations.

Along with CN trains blocking rail crossings in Chicago's suburbs, Durbin said the on-time performance along the north-sound rail corridor between Carbondale and Chicago is averaging just 54 percent.

Other stops on the CN route affected by the delays include Du Quoin, Mattoon, Champaign-Urbana and Homewood.

The Democrat from Illinois said the delays are among the worst in the nation during the most recent fiscal year.

Key to the problem are slow moving freight trains that force Amtrak trains to wait along sidings.

"CN has failed communities across Illinois, from the suburbs of Chicago that have experienced a record number of blocked rail crossings to towns in Central and Southern Illinois that must face repeated delays in Amtrak service," Durbin said.

Amtrak supports Durbin's move and earlier this month filed notice with the Surface Transportation Board that it wants to move forward with a lawsuit regarding CN's shortcomings.

"Poor on-time performance is unacceptable to Amtrak passengers, employees, management and other stakeholders," Amtrak said in a statement Thursday. "It creates a major inconvenience for our customers and impacts the business through decreased ridership, lost revenues and higher operating costs for Amtrak, and for the states that sponsor routes."

Durbin met with transportation board chairman Daniel Elliott this week to outline the problems. He also sent a letter in June to CN chief Claude Mongeau, calling on the rail company to address ongoing safety and traffic issues.

Illinois helps subsidize the cost of Amtrak. In the current fiscal year, state taxpayers are spending $42 million for added service along the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Carbondale lines, up from $38 million last year.

A CN spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for information.

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(9) comments

Responsibleone

Mr. Durbin: this was never going to be high speed rail and you know it. Your outcry??? Pure political posturing.

Turner Joy

Please point us to quotes from Durbin (or Amtrak or ...) that claim the Chicago to Carbondale route as "high speed rail".

Responsibleone

Get a clue.... Do your own research....

12for10cents
12for10cents

durbin is nothing but a Liar and a Fraud. Maybe he should approve a few hundred thousand more H1B visas to resolve this problem? He knew both passenger and freight trains shared the same rails when his gajillion dollar scam started. He still swears the Federal Reserve is part of the US Gov and attacks anybody who shows him the truth. America would be a much better place without scumbag con-men like durbin stealing valuable oxygen.

C5IL

"High speed" rail between St. Louis and Chicago sliced a jaw-dropping, time-warping 15 minutes of the trip.

Cost to the American taxpayer: $2 billion.

That's over $133 million per minute saved.

Oh, but we temporarily provided some taxpayer-funded jobs.

NormalNews

Durbin... You total idiot and political fool!!! Your high speed rail is a pipe dream until SEPARATE TRACKS are built to accommodate two trains at the same time. You sound like a 16 year old child whining because your parents (Canadian National who own the tracks) won't let you use their car for the night.

Yepppppp

The Senator has a conflict of interest in this matter. The line he is asking to be investigated is owned by Canadian National. The Senator owns stock in Bershire Hathaway Inc. Bershire is the parent company of Burlington Northern. What is his doing is probably against the law. Will any new source be willing to print that he is asking the Feds to investigate a rival business which if successful will result in additional wealth for the Senator?

NormalNews

You would think some media outlet would investigate but they are too busy kissing the Democrats and Obama's backside to do anything of consequence... sort of like the destroyed IRS evidence.

2tired

let me get this straight, CN owns the tracks in question. CN top priority is move goods with their trains on tracks which CN owns. CN freight trains move slower and slows down Amtrak. Amtrak uses the tracks which CN owns. My guess CN usage fees Amtrak are less than it cost to Maintain the tracks since Uncle Sam is involved. Durbin is such an idiot, why doesn't he just take the railways away from CN which you know that is what he really wants to do. Then the government can hire the firm that created the Obamacare website to run it because you know the government can run it so much better.

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