New Transcontinental Rail Route Announced Through Chicago

Image via CN

Three of the largest rail providers in North America have announced a new partnership for service across Canada, The United States, and Mexico. The new partnership made up of Canadian National (CN), Union Pacific Railroad (UP), and Grupo Mexico Transportes (GMXT) will become the second to ever serve the three countries and will use Chicago as its main interchange point.

Combined route map of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern (left) – Falcon Premium route (right)

The announcement made on Monday comes after the US government approved the merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern in a $31 billion deal, creating the first operation across the continent connecting in Kansas City with east coast routes running through Chicago. However the combined duo would still be smaller than Canadian National (CN) whose $30 billion bid for Kansas City Southern was blocked in 2021.

The three key players on the new competing route which will will utilize Chicago as the main stop and connection point in the US are:

Canadian National: Runs 18,600 miles of track across the US and Canada and transports over 300 million tons of cargo yearly, in operation since 1919.

Union Pacific: The nation’s largest rail operator by revenue with 32,100 miles of track across 23 western states, in operation since 1862.

Grupo México Transportes: Mexico’s largest rail operator with over 6,000 miles of track going through 24 of its states and 90 percent of the nation’s GDP, in operation since 1942.

Dubbed the Falcon Premium Intermodal Service, the new route will utilize Chicago as the main stop and connection point in the US. Service will commence with GMXT to the south in Silao just north of Mexico City, making its second stop in Monterrey before crossing into the US via Texas. From there it will use UP tracks directly to Chicago which will be its third and main stop, utilizing the Elgin-Joliet & Eastern bypass to transfer cargo to other routes and Canada.

Image of Union Pacific Joliet facility via Transystem

Falcon Premium route map via Union Pacific

Via UP and CN, cargo can transfer to routes across the western and southern ends of the nation, before the Falcon Premium splits into two paths on CN heading west to Vancouver and east to Halifax. The west route will have stops like Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, and Prince George while the eastern route will have the only other US stop in Detroit continuing to Toronto, Montreal, and Moncton.

Image of Union Pacific Joliet facility via Transystem

Chicago has been the nation’s largest rail hub as the only major city where all seven Class I railroads operate, but it has also led to major choke points for which improvement investments are being implemented to allow for more than 50,000 additional trains by 2051. With over 900 million tons moved between the three nations in 2019 worth over $180 billion, the two routes will increase demand for rail transport and bring significant economic impact to the Chicagoland area.

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21 Comments on "New Transcontinental Rail Route Announced Through Chicago"

  1. Pedro_Rodriri890 | April 29, 2023 at 9:33 am | Reply

    This is huge news for the City! Congrats Chicago.

  2. Brandon Smith | April 29, 2023 at 9:46 am | Reply

    “ The new partnership made up of Canada National (CN), Union Pacific Railroad (UP), and Grupo Mexico Transportes (GMXT) will become the second to ever serve the three continents and will use Chicago as its main interchange point.”

    I think that you meant to say three countries, not continents. 😀 Great news for Chicagoland and its future as America’s most important railroad hub. Now if only the railroad companies would treat their employees better and improve service to actually pull trucks off the highways.

    • Hi Brandon, thanks for catching that! been corrected

      • It would be great if there was a recreational and travel aspect to this. It would be beneficial for those who Don’t like to fly, take cruises, or drive themselves. Grab your passports and spend a month hoboing The three countries on the continent.

  3. Great opportunity for Chicago, US, Canada and Mexico to operate on a truly continental freight moving system. Now I hope we can one day see a separation of freight and passenger lines and get serious about high speed rail service in North America.

    • I’ll second that, we need anything that’ll get cars off the road!

    • Midwest Blade,

      I agree wholeheartedly! What a benefit it would be to have the hub right here in Chicago. Hopefully there will be a passenger rail aspect to this. It would make an awesome sightseeing an exploration vacation.

  4. Chicago has always been a major rail hub, now, there’s just gonna b more rail traffic here!!

  5. So how is this supposed to help Chicago? It seems the railroads stand to make tons of money. Only seems like huge bonuses for the corporate boards and stock holders???

  6. This is actually BAD NEWS for anyone WHO LIVES IN SUBURBS. More freight means more disruption. Fewer escape route.

    • This is an opportunity for the region to improve its infrastructure to create underpasses and overpasses. The future of North American manufacturing has been given a boost!

  7. Captain America | April 30, 2023 at 5:57 am | Reply

    We have just streamlined the cartel’s route to Chicago, good job.

  8. Great news for Chicagoland and logistics hubs like Joliet and Waukegan.

  9. Terrible terrible terrible!

  10. This isnt great news for people who drive and get held up by a 200 or 300 car train.

    • Much better to put 400 to 800 more trucks on the road for the same amount of freight, just so you don’t have to wait a few minutes.

  11. Frank Gustafson | April 30, 2023 at 9:30 pm | Reply


  12. Terrible news for the suburbs. We currently average 3 freight trains a day, plus commuter trains. Freight train traffic is expected to increase to at least 11 per day, and if they’re expecting an additional 50,000 trains by 2051 you know that 11 is only going to increase. Noise, air pollution, massive traffic backups, and potential derailments are in our future. The railroads already said there are no plans for under or overpasses. I’ll take the 400-800 more trucks spread out around the country over the daily headaches we’re going to have to put up with.

  13. unambiguously good news for chicago. we are the largest intermodal port in the country and need to double down on this before dallas eats our lunch. durbin should put in more overpassess to deal with the suburbs

  14. Lynne Woehlke | May 23, 2023 at 11:20 pm | Reply

    It’s Canadian National, not Canada National. It’s Canadian Pacific, not Canada Pacific.

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