ON March 25 the US Surface Transportation Board voted unanimously to approve the merger of Canadian National and Illinois Central. The STB will issue its written decision on May 25, and this is to become effective on June 24. CN’s 25600 route-km and IC’s 5420 route-km will be integrated from July 1.

As with other recent mergers, the STB has attached conditions, including close regulatory oversight for up to five years. The railways have already filed their safety integration plan for approval by the Federal Railroad Administration.

CN President & Chief Executive Officer Paul Tellier said he was ’extremely gratified by the decision’, but noted that the ’challenge now is to fulfil the promise of the merger ... and achieve a flawless integration of CN and IC.’ A corporate restructuring announced on April 14 will ’focus operations and marketing squarely on customer needs and growth’. Finance, administrative and marketing functions for CN and IC will be consolidated under a top team of the President & CEO and Executive Vice-Presidents for Operations and Finance.

A single network operations centre will be established in Edmonton to oversee both CN and IC networks, with senior managers in five geographic divisions dealing with day-to-day business and customer service issues. The three Canadian divisions come into force on May 1, covering Eastern Canada (Toronto), Prairie (Winnipeg), and Pacific (Vancouver). The Midwest (Chicago) and Gulf (Jackson, Mississippi) divisions will begin on July 1.