- Briefing Room
- CN Rail
Can the Village Regulate Train Traffic on the Canadian-National (CN) Rail Line?
Sort answer, no. Only the United States Congress can.
The Village is aware there is heavy usage on the CN rain line that goes through town. It is a freight line, as opposed to a commuter Metra line. Being freight, the number of trains fluctuate with national economic activity. On average, 17-21 trains traverse Lake Zurich per day. Usually the largest concentration is between midnight - 4 am.
This CN line delivers freight throughout the Midwest across multiple state lines, which is considered “interstate commerce.” Interstate commerce is regulated only by the federal government as authorized under Article 1 of the United States Constitution.
Article 1 includes the Commerce Clause of the United States, which says only the US Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations and among the several States. .”
So regulating rail activity is far beyond the legal authority of your local municipal government. It’s even beyond the authority of the State of Illinois.
The State of Illinois did enact a law prohibiting trains from blocking crossings for longer than 10 minutes, but that rule was determined to be unconstitutional in 2008 as it was an example of the State interfering with interstate commerce and the Federal Railroad Administration.
The Village of Lake Zurich municipal government provides 24-hour public safety protection, a safe and clean public water supply, reliable sanitary sewer service, inspections to ensure buildings are structurally sound, parks and recreation programming, tons of community special events, and snow and ice removal. These are core municipal government functions.
Unfortunately, regulating interstate commerce is far beyond what local governments do.
Canadian National rail can be contacted here: https://www.cn.ca/en/contact-us/