Posted by: newwestrealty | January 6, 2009

New Railway Good News for South Loopers


The elimination of freight traffic on the St. Charles Air Line is great news for 1555ers and the South Loop.

Canadian National’s purchase of the EJ&E railway has been approved by the federal government to the tune of $300 Million and that is great news for all South Loopers.

The train tracks which border 1555 Wabash to the North are part of a historic stretch of track called the St. Charles Air Line (SCAL). It won’t be overnight, but as soon as Canadian National can divert rail traffic to the EJ&E in the suburbs, they will abandon the SCAL forever—leaving just 6 Amtrak trips per day as its only traffic.

With no freight traffic, the noise and fume reduction in the South Loop will be notable (although we’ll lose the rolling and sometimes serendipitous graffiti art).

The remaining six Amtrak trips have a solution as well. The future of all train use on the SCAL hinges upon a proposed Amtrak connection at Grand Crossings on Chicago’s South Side.

The Grand Crossing connection is not a foregone conclusion and the infrastructure doesn’t exist, but the right-of-way is in place and southern Amtrak travel to-and-from Union Station would be expedited significantly. (As much as 40 minutes each way by some estimates). Alas, the Grand Crossing connection is Mayor Daley’s unicorn and it would finally allow him to build his mythical South Loop bikepath/ greenway.

One step at a time. The elimination of freight traffic on the St. Charles Air Line is great news for 1555ers and the South Loop.

Note: Even with the OK from federal regulators, the EJ&E acquisition is not a sure thing.The board’s decision does not take effect until Jan. 23 — well past U.S. Steel’s deadline to wrap up the deal with CN by Dec. 31. The decision also can be appealed in the next 30 days — a step that CN’s opponents said they will take.

For more information on 1555 Wabash, call 312-922-1555.



  1. The St. Charles AL is a tremendous resource and it should be preserved for both Amtrak use in the present and future and possible development for light rail as part of a circulator route from the West Loop stations to McCormick Place, the Museum campus and Soldier Field. The endless whining of South Loop residents who moved near and an area whose entire raison d’etre was RAILROADS is beyond me.

  2. @ Matt- Should I then expect a free bowl of french onion soup from my Alderman because Marquette & Joliet named Chicago after the Algonquin word for “onion field”? I agree that a light rail circulator would be better than a bike path. But c’mon, like you said, the south loop’s reason for being WAS the railroads.. Now its to be a neighborhood.

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