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CN to move rail shop down from Illinois to Indiana

Updated: November 2, 2011 7:06PM

Canadian National Railway announced Wednesday it will move its locomotive repair shop from south suburban Homewood to Gary in the next three years.

The 250 employees at the facility at 175th Street and Ashland Avenue will be given the opportunity to transfer, and the rail company now is exploring options to redevelop the 200-acre site, CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said.

CN will keep its U.S. headquarters and its intermodal facility in the Homewood area. However, the rail yard will see a reduction in operation, as CN consolidates its switching operations to the upgraded Kirk Yard in Gary.

Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld said he is aware of CN’s plans and believes it is a “positive” move for the village.

He said CN plans to beef up its intermodal operations on the site.

“It’s a nice sign of the times that they are looking at growth and expansion,” Hofeld said. “There is an opportunity to put a lot of different things there. There will be no job loss at all.”

Waldron said some jobs will change, but there will be no layoffs. He anticipates a lot of turnover due to retirements over the next few years.

“We will continue to have substantial operations in Illinois,” he said. CN hopes to attract new industry to the Homewood area, he said.

The rail company is planning a $165 million expansion of its Kirk Yard in Gary, a process that is expected to take three years. It includes a new 155,000-square-foot shop, and additional classification tracks, with more receiving and departure tracks to handle longer trains and improve the interchange with other railroads.

Indiana was touting the fact that this is the sixth company to relocate from Illinois to Indiana this year.

Waldron said CN had choices to make and “Indiana stepped forward to partner with us on this new investment.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered CN up to $2.95 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $250,000 in training grants based on CN’s job creation plans.

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