The EJ&E underwent dieselization relatively early. In 1937, the railroad acquired its first diesel-electric locomotive, an EMC SW switcher, which was designated EJ&E #200. Over the next 12 years, the entire steam fleet was replaced with first generation diesels. The first road diesel, Baldwin DT-6-6-2000 #100, was delivered to the railroad in May 1946. The final steam movement occurred in late May 1949, led by a Mikado 2-8-2, EJ&E #740. The locomotive was sold to the scrapper that September.

In 1988, United States Steel and the Blackstone Group formed Transtar Inc. to serve as a shareholder of the EJ&E and several other affiliated railroads and companies. In March 2001, the Blackstone Group ended their ownership interest in Transtar, resulting in its becoming a fully owned subsidiary of United States Steel.

On May 16, 2006, the EJ&E was the recipient of the 2005 Bronze E. H. Harriman Award for employee safety in group C (line-haul railroads with less than 4 million employee hours per year).

Canadian National/Gary Railway
On September 10, 2007, Crain's Chicago Business reported that the Canadian National Railway was in talks to purchase the EJ&E. In 2004, Canadian National had acquired two railroads, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railroad and the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad, that also previously been owned by Transtar, but that at the time CN acquired them were owned by Great Lakes Transportation, LLC, a Blackstone Group subsidiary created when USS became the sole owner of Transtar). The purchase agreement was officially announced on September 26; CN would purchase the majority of the line. The purchase was initially expected to close in mid-2008, valued at $300 million.

In fact, the closing did not take place until January 31, 2009 (effective February 1, 2009), following regulatory approval of the purchase by the Surface Transportation Board on December 24, 2008. Canadian National makes plans to use the EJ&E to route trains around Chicago, where they faced lengthy delays because of congestion in the busy rail hub.

In accordance with its agreement with CN, Transtar retained some railroad infrastructure in Gary, Indiana; this infrastructure has been reorganized as the Gary Railway to continue serving U.S. Steel's plants located this.

On Tuesday, March 10, 2009, the first two Canadian National trains debuted on the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern.

Motive power
All-time diesel roster
The EJ&E's all time diesel roster consisted of:
Locomotive Model - Quantity - Road - Numbers - Notes
Alco HH660 - 4 - 209-212
Alco HH900 - 1 - 402
Alco RS-2 - 10 - 800-809 - Locomotive No. 801 was eventually sold to Hylsamex, and as of 2012 is still operating. Believed to be the oldest operating diesel locomotive in Mexico.
Alco S-1 - 5 - 213-217
Alco S-2 - 12 - 451-462
Baldwin DR-4-4-1500 - 2 - A-B sets 700A, 700B, 701A, 701B - "Sharknose" body
Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 - 2 - 500-501
Baldwin DT-6-6-2000 - 27 - 100-126 - Locomotive #100 was a unique prototype. All were sold and scrapped by 1974 and replaced by the EMD SD38-2 fleet.
Baldwin VO660 - 3 - 270-272
Baldwin VO1000 - 10 - 475-484
EMD GP38-2 - 5 - 700-704 - Sold to the Birmingham Southern Railroad in 1987. In 1996, locomotive #703 was repurchased and assigned to Waukegan, IL.
EMD SD9 - 15 - 600-614
EMD SD18 - 5 - 615, 616, 818, 851, 852 - #818 upgraded to SD18U.
EMD SDM - 8 - 802, 804, 809, 811, 813-815, 820 - Ex-Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. Rebuilt from EMD SD9s in 1990.
EMD SD38 - 6 - 650-655 - 650 sold to CITI rail as of 2011,654 sold to Hartwell Railroad as of 2012, 651-653, 655 sold to DM&IR in 1992/3.
EMD SD38-2 - 21 - 656-675, All still active under Canadian National Ownership, 658,664,666,668 Re-painted to CN colors.
EMC NC - 1 - 402
EMC NW1 - 2 - 400, 401
EMC/EMD NW2 - 52 - 403-443, 408, 446-452, 450, 455, 458 - There were two separate EMD NW2 locomotives designated No. 450, though not at the same time. One EJE 450 is possessed by Gary Railway but out of service in US Steel Gary Works.
EMD SW - 9 - 200-208 - First diesel locomotives on the EJ&E.
EMD SW1 - 30 - 220-249
EMD SW1000 - 1 - 459
EMD SW1001 - 3 - 444-446 - 444 and 445 to LTEX 444-445. 446 to CN 446
EMD SW1200 - 23 - 300-307, 310-324 - EJ&E No. 315 was involved in an accident in 2000 and was subsequently scrapped in 2003. 300-305, 307 to Gary Railway. 306 to LTEX 306. 310-324 from Burlington Northern.
EMD SW8 - 1 - 457
EMD SW9 - 2 - 454, 456
EMD SW900 - 1 - 453
EMD SW1500 - 1 - 460
EMD TR4 - 1 - 308/309 - Rebuilt from a UP Cow/Calf Set; Calf made into a Cow unit.

The EJ&E connects the following cities and large towns:
Waukegan, Illinois
Libertyville, Illinois
Vernon Hills, Illinois
Lake Zurich, Illinois
Barrington, Illinois
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Elgin, Illinois
West Chicago, Illinois
Aurora, Illinois
Plainfield, Illinois
Joliet, Illinois
Minooka, Illinois
Morris, Illinois
New Lenox, Illinois
Mokena, Illinois
Frankfort, Illinois
Richton Park, Illinois
Chicago Heights, Illinois
Park Forest, Illinois
Griffith, Indiana
Gary, Indiana

See also
Wisconsin Central

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Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway
The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway (reporting mark EJE) was a former Class I railroad operating between Waukegan, Illinois and Gary Indiana from January 1, 1889 until January 1, 2013. Headquartered in Gary, Indiana, the railroad served as a link between other Class I railroads traveling to and from Chicago, although it operated almost entirely within the city's suburbs, and only entered Chicago where it served the U.S. Steel South Works on the shores of Lake Michigan. Nicknames for the railroad included "The J" and "The Chicago Outer Belt Line". At the end of 1970, the EJ&E operated 205 miles of road on 985 miles of track, carrying 848 million ton-miles of revenue freight in that year alone.

On September 26, 2007, the Canadian National Railway announced it planned to purchase a majority of the EJ&E, leaving a portion of the line in Indiana to be reorganized as the Gary Railway. The purchase was approved on December 24, 2008 by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, and the deal was consummated effective February 1, 2009. In the years immediately following the merger, the railroad existed as a subsidiary of Canadian National, and EJ&E locomotives that were repainted into CN colors were sub-lettered for the EJ&E.

On December 31, 2012, Canadian National announced that the merger of the EJ&E into Wisconsin Central Ltd. (Another railroad subsidiary of CN) had been completed, and would take effect the following day. On January 1, 2013, the EJ&E effectively ceased to exist, 124 years to the day it was founded.

The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern was created when several local railroads in Illinois and Indiana merged throughout the end of the 19th century. The systems that would make up the EJ&E included the Joliet, Aurora & Northern Railway (which dates back to 1884) and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company of Illinois. The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway began operations on December 4, 1888 through the merger of these two systems. After the creation of the modern day EJ&E the railroad expanded by purchasing several other smaller lines including the Waukegan & Southwestern Railway; Gardner, Coal City & Northern Railway; Western Indiana Railroad; and the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway.

The EJ&E moved to serve industries in the Hammond-East Chicago-Whiting industrial district by acquiring trackage rights in 1894. However, construction of the present line to Gary, Whiting and South Chicago was initiated in 1899 by the Griffith and Northern Railway. Connections with the Chicago, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway and the Western Indiana Railway further penetrated the district, although the EJ&E subsequently acquired both lines. In 1901, United States Steel Corporation purchased the railroad.

The railroad's passenger services began with the start of operations in January 1889. The railroad stopped operating passenger trains in 1907, but continued passenger service until 1909. During those two years, passengers would be transported by caboose.