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3/11/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

STB halts Salt Lake City's attempt to abandon UP line


Surface Transportation Board March 8 denied Salt Lake City's application seeking an adverse abandonment of a 1.32-mile Union Pacific Railroad line in Salt Lake City.
UP in 1999 suspended service over the line because of a highway construction project, but in December resumed operations. The railroad now daily reroutes 10 to 12 trains over the line to increase velocity, reduce congestion and increase capacity on its mainlines through Salt Lake City.
STB considered whether to allow the city to pursue court remedies requiring UP to abandon the line under a statutory public convenience and necessity standard, and not whether the Class I could reactivate the line, which doesn’t require board approval.
City officials believed that, because UP in 1999 suspended service on the line, the railroad is contractually obligated to remove the tracks.
However, STB in a November decision found that the city could not enforce a franchise agreement and provisions requiring UP to remove its tracks from the line, noting that the line has potential for continued rail service.
In its recent decision, the board denied the city's adverse abandonment application — which is filed by a party other than a railroad — because it failed to demonstrate that present or future public convenience and necessity support the line's abandonment. STB ruled that the city's arguments, as well as community environmental concerns, were outweighed by the overriding federal interest in the line's present and future operation.


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