Track services

Lake County Council adds support for CN’s dual track plan to reduce delays

A Canadian National Railroad plan that would reduce crossing delays and improve commuter and freight rail service in Lake County has received another official approval.

Lake County Council this week joined Metra, Antioch, Round Lake Beach and Grayslake in supporting plans to add a second lane between Hook Drive in Round Lake Beach and Lake Avenue in Grayslake.

Double-tracking this stretch is in CN’s 10-year plan, but with community approval, it could happen sooner, proponents say. Delays for slow or stopped trains have been a problem at Grayslake, which has five crossings.

Village officials and Lake County Councilman John Wasik, who lives in town, have been pursuing the case for about three years.

Wasik told voters that while the project would not reduce the total number of freight trains, it could reduce the wait time for stopped trains.

“The best thing is that the railroad will pay for the improvements – no taxpayer money will be used,” he said.

The second track would be used when needed to allow other trains to pass.

This would remove a bottleneck in the system, allow lane-sharing Metra to improve and possibly expand its north-central service, and reduce emergency vehicle delays at crossings.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

Metra strongly supports the plan as a benefit to its users, non-users and residents of Lake County.

“Freight interference is regularly a major cause of delays for Metra trains, and this project will reduce such occurrences on the NCS, improving on-time performance and overall passenger and freight rail operations in the corridor,” according to the CEO. /Metra Executive Director, James. M.Derwinski.

In a letter of support to Lake County Council Chairman Sandy Hart, Derwinski said the project would also improve operations on the Milwaukee District North Line by eliminating conflict where it crosses north-central elsewhere in Grayslake.

He said there were 1.58 million passenger trips on the North Central line in 2019 and demand is likely to increase due to expected growth in Lake County by 2050.

Metra has been unable to explore expanded reverse haul service options due to infrastructure limitations and freight traffic demands, he added.

“This dual track project is a necessary step to reduce rail congestion in the corridor and possibly explore expanded Metra service in the future to meet ridership demands,” he told Hart.

He described Canadian National as a “supporting partner” in the North Central Corridor helping to repair and replace bridges.

Stacey Lyons, Director of Government and Public Affairs, Canadian National, said, “CN strives to be a good neighbor in the communities we operate and continues to invest millions in Illinois to ensure our network moves safely and reliably.

Dual tracking is recommended in Lake County’s 2040 Transportation Plan. The railroad bridges that replaced level crossings on Rollins Road in Round Lake Beach and Washington Street in Grayslake in recent years, for example, were built to accommodate a second track when the time came.