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Canadian National “is continuing to evaluate all options available to us,” said Jonathan Doorley, a spokesman for Canadian National.

Kansas City Southern said on Sunday that it had deemed an offer from Canadian Pacific superior to a bid from Canadian National, in the latest turn in a monthslong battle to become the first railroad to connect North America.

Canadian Pacific first put forward a roughly $29 billion bid for Kansas City Southern in March, before being topped by a $33.7 billion offer from its rival, Canadian National, in April. But the Canadian National deal hit a key regulatory challenge this month, sending Kansas City back to talks with Canadian Pacific. The talks proved fruitful.

The crown jewel in the deal is Mexico, as the railroads look to capitalize on trade flows across North America on the heels of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement signed into law last year.

Closing a deal could take time. It must be approved by shareholders of both companies, as well as approved by Mexican authorities and the Surface Transportation Board, the U.S. regulatory board that oversees rail deals.

Kansas City Southern has notified Canadian National of its intention to terminate that deal, both companies said on Sunday. Canadian National has five days to make a better offer. If Kansas City opts for Canadian Pacific, Canadian National will receive $700 million in breakup fees, according to the terms of their deal.

Read more here.

Related: “Feds reject initial CN plan for merger with Kansas City railroad that’s drawn ire from some suburbs,” “Suburbs wary of proposed railway merger that could mean more freight trains,” and “Could railroad merger lead to more freight trains in the suburbs?

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An outbound Metra train travels past a memorial at Algonquin Road and Northwest Highway in Fox River Grove. At the same location on Oct. 25, 1995, inbound Metra train No. 624 crashed into a school bus, killing seven teenagers on their way to class at Cary-Grove High School and injuring the bus driver and 24 passengers. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times)

The dream that has visited Ford Dotson Jr. thousands of times always starts the same way.

It’s a crisp October morning. Beneath clear skies, leaves shimmer copper, gold and red.

It’s long before sunrise, and Dotson sets off from home. He’s happy anyway because there are no weekend shifts, no one bugging him to work holidays. He climbs into the cab of Metra’s Union Pacific Northwest Line train No. 624 heading to Chicago from Crystal Lake. At the end of the run, he’ll curl up on a cot for a few hours before making the return trip.

The 200-ton locomotive at the rear of the train pushes six passenger cars and the cab control car. It’s an express, and ahead the signals are green. So Dotson “jumps it up” to the maximum speed — 70 mph. He crosses the Fox River, which sparkles in the sunlight.

In the distance, he sees a school bus. It’s moving slowly across the tracks, but there’s no reason to panic. Dotson nudges the brake handle — just in case — and blows the train whistle: two long blasts, a short, another long.

But something is wrong. The rear of the bus remains on the tracks. Dotson pumps several short blasts on the airhorn. He keeps at it because the bus isn’t moving. As the train hurtles forward, he slams the brake handle all the way.

That’s the point in the dream when he always wakes up, shaking, just before the impact.

Twenty-five years ago Sunday, Ford Dotson Jr.’s train smashed into a school bus in Fox River Grove. It wasn’t any dream. Seven teenagers, all of them students at Cary-Grove High School, were killed: Jeffrey Clark, Stephanie Fulham, Susanna Guzman, Michael Hoffman, Joe Kalte, Shawn Robinson and Tiffany Schneider. The bus driver and 24 other passengers were injured.

Read more about a sad anniversary this Sunday in the Chicago Sun*Times here.

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The free ride may be over for Chicago commuters on Metra’s three Union Pacific lines with the installation of manned ticket verification booths at the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Beginning today, commuters on the UP North, Northwest and West Metra lines will have to show a valid ticket or their Ventra app when boarding or disembarking at the Chicago station. Union Pacific employees will verify fares behind new Plexiglas booths on the train platforms.

“We feel this is the safest way to help with fair collection, but also protect our employees and the commuters,” said Kristen South, a Union Pacific spokeswoman.

Metra and Union Pacific have been at odds over fare collection since June, when UP refused to allow conductors into the aisles to punch tickets on its three Metra lines, citing coronavirus safety concerns. That essentially created a no fare policy, which has been costing the commuter rail system $1 million a month in lost ticket revenue, Metra said.

Read on here.

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The Barrington METRA station appeared all but vacant this morning at 9:30 AM.

As Illinois and the Chicago region move toward establishing a “new normal” in the time of COVID-19, Metra is providing more details about the steps it is taking to ensure passengers will feel safe using its system.

“We know more than ever that passengers need to feel safe and confident using our service,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “We know more than ever the importance of providing a clean, hygienic experience on the platforms and on the trains. And we know more than ever the need to promote safe and healthy practices, such as social distancing and wearing face coverings.”

Social distancing/train schedules

Metra will provide an opportunity for responsible physical distancing on its trains as much as and as long as possible. In general, Metra will aim for trains that are no more than about half full: one passenger per two-seater on the lower level and one passenger per every other seat on the upper level. (There will be exceptions for families or others travelling together.)

Metra will continue to use the current alternate weekday schedules (view them here) at the start of June but is adding cars to trains to make sure there is plenty of room for passengers to spread out. It will add more cars as needed. If Metra suspects there is potential for a train to become more crowded, it will try to operate an unscheduled train behind that one to aid with serving awaiting passengers, or it will start to add more scheduled trains to the line. Metra will continue to add cars and trains as ridership and travel patterns dictate.

Read the complete METRA release here.

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