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3/24/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

STB settles several cases during second open-voting conference


During its second open-voting conference March 21, Surface Transportation Board:


• denied PPL Montana L.L.C.'s request to reconsider the board's 2002 decision finding that PPL failed to demonstrate that certain Burlington Northern Santa Fe rates for moving coal from the Powder River Basin to a Billings, Mont., power plant are unreasonably high;

• determined that BNSF has market dominance over Texas Municipal Power Agency's coal moves between the Powder River Basin and an Iola, Texas, electric station, making the railroad's rates unreasonably high;

• approved using "regional average" rates of large railroads when calculating variable costs in rate complaints against Class IIs or IIIs, allowing for adjustments to reflect a railroad's or move's characteristics;

• granted Massachusetts Port Authority's motion to dismiss its notice of exemption regarding a plan to acquire from Boston and Maine Corp. the right of way and related improvements on a 1.45-mile Mystic Wharf Branch line in Charleston, Mass., because the port would not become a common carrier as a result of the transaction;

• conditionally approved (pending environmental review) Sunflower Electric Power Corp.'s exemption request to construct and operate a 4.7-mile line near Garden City, Kan., to access Union Pacific Railroad track near its power plant; and

• conditionally approved (pending environmental review) BNSF's exemption to build and operate an 850-foot line in Merced, Calif., to connect to its mainline between Stockton and Bakersfield, and provide competitive service for Quebecor World Inc.


The open sessions are part of Chairman Roger Nober's plan to conduct more STB business in the public eye rather than behind closed doors.











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