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12/3/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

STB sets January meetings to extract public opinions on proposed Houston line's environmental effects


Surface Transportation Board Nov. 26 scheduled public meetings Jan. 14-15 at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Texas, to hear environmental concerns regarding San Jacinto Rail Ltd.'s proposed $80 million, 13-mile rail line designed to serve petrochemical shippers in Houston's Bayport Industrial District.
STB is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the line; all written public comments addressing the EIS are due Feb. 1. The board's Section of Environmental Analysis plans to issue a final "scope of study" EIS document shortly after the comment period's close.
San Jacinto Rail Ltd. — a partnership comprising Burlington Northern Santa Fe, ATOFINA Petrochemicals Inc., Basell USA Inc., Equistar Chemicals LP and Lyondell Chemical Co. — plans to build the line to connect with several plastics and chemical shippers now served solely by Union Pacific Railroad. San Jacinto Rail is seeking STB approval to obtain trackage rights to UP's line.
Since launching the project in August, San Jacinto Rail officials have held meetings with public and community leaders to raise public awareness about the line, which BNSF would operate.
Pending regulatory approval, the partnership plans to begin building the line in first-quarter 2003 and start operations in second-quarter 2004.
BNSF would operate an average of two 36-car trains daily at speeds not to exceed 20 mph; after five years, train length could increase to 66 cars.
San Jacinto Aug. 30 formally petitioned STB for approval to build and operate the line, which would include six grade crossings and a Red Bluff Road overpass.


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