CN to Rebuild St. Charles Air Line Bridges

Canadian National plans to begin renovating bridges on a rail line in Chicago used by Amtrak’s Chicago-Carbondale-New Orleans trains. These include the City of New Orleans, Saluki and Illini.

CN said that it will begin renewing the St. Charles Air Line in Chicago, which is used by Amtrak trains to get from the CN Chicago-New Orleans mainline (former Illinois Central) to the BNSF Chicago-Aurora raceway at Union Avenue interlocking.

Amtrak trains generally back up from Chicago Union Station to reach the Union Avenue interlocking and they back up from Union Interlocking into Union Station.

The St. Charles Airline is also used by CN freight trains, including those going to and from Glenn Yard on the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio and the former Iowa Division of the IC. Some transfer runs of other railroads also use the St. Charles Airline.

Some bridges on the St. Charles Air Line were built in 1899. In total, CN plans to spent $85 million in 2018 and $100 million in 2019 on bridges.

There have been proposals over the years to build a connection at Grand Crossing in Chicago from the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline — now Norfolk Southern — and former IC line in order to avoid the backup moves that use of the St. Charles Air Line entails.

However, no funding source for the connection has yet materialized.

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