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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Partners — including BNSF — propose alternate line to provide certain Houston shippers competitive access

Several captive plastics and chemical shippers in southeast Houston might be served by a second Class I beginning in second-quarter 2004.

San Jacinto Rail Ltd. — a partnership comprising Burlington Northern Santa Fe, ATOFINA Petrochemicals Inc., Basell USA Inc., Equistar Chemicals LP and Lyomdell Chemical Co. — Aug. 21 announced plans to build an $80 million, 13-mile rail line running south of Ellington Field to Houston's Bayport Industrial District, including six highway crossings and a Red Bluff Road overpass.

The proposed line would be operated by BNSF, and connect to several plastics and chemical shippers in the Bayport district now served solely by Union Pacific Railroad.

BNSF plans to seek Surface Transportation Board approval to construct, operate and access the line via trackage rights. The Class I would average one train daily in each direction, carrying mostly non-hazardous plastic pellets.

"Our partners will be able to gain the benefits from a competitive, BNSF distribution network linking the Bayport Industrial District with major markets throughout North America," said Matthew Rose, BNSF president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement, adding that other district shippers also would benefit from the line.

Prior to any regulatory approval, STB would conduct an environmental review of the proposed line and seek public comments. If approved by STB — and other state and local agencies — the limited partnership plans to start construction in first-quarter 2003, with BNSF beginning operations in second-quarter 2004.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/22/2001