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CN's critical Chicago investments keep network fluid, help railroad handle rising demand

Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI), said today CN's substantial investments in its U.S. Midwest operations, particularly the former Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (EJ&E), are keeping its network fluid, helping the railroad accommodate increased demand for its freight services, and freeing up rail capacity inside Chicago for other railroads.

Mongeau, speaking to the Midwest Association of Rail Shippers, said CN's substantial presence in the U.S. Midwest is the product of a series of rail acquisitions and investments that have extended its network reach south, north and west of Chicago, as well as around the city. In the past five years, CN has invested well over one billion dollars in its Midwest operations.

CN today has 5,400 employees in the Midwest, roughly 1,400 of whom live and work in the Chicago region. With roughly 25 per cent of its freight traffic touching the city, CN's Chicago focus is on network efficiencies, close collaboration with other freight and passenger carriers, and delivering solid customer service.

Mongeau said the acquisition of the EJ&E in 2009 "has transformed our operations in North America's business rail hub. The EJ&E solution allows us to seamlessly connect our five rail lines entering Chicago and to avoid congested inner city rail corridors. This is a clear gain for CN, but it also frees up capacity for other carriers on the Belt Railway of Chicago and Indiana Harbor Belt - a benefit for the entire greater Chicago rail network."

Mongeau said the "J" is helping CN accommodate rising traffic, which has been growing strongly across all business units for the past five years in both Canada and the United States.

"Almost 30 per cent of CN's revenue ton-miles are in the United States, so the U.S. is clearly an important market for CN," said Mongeau. "Transborder U.S.-Canada traffic is also a major market for CN - our northbound traffic has grown faster than southbound freight over the past five years. As such, we play an important role in moving U.S. exports to both Canada and offshore destinations."

Mongeau concluded: "Our business agenda is shaped by what CN stands for, by what we do best, and by the way we see our role as a true backbone of the economy. At the core of our agenda is CN's commitment to Operational and Service Excellence whose purpose is to help our customers compete better in their end markets."

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