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New Hampshire shipper can receive service from two short lines, STB says

Surface Transportation Board July 19 granted Rymes Heating Oils Inc.'s request for a board order entitling the shipper to obtain rail service from 366-mile New England Central Railroad Inc. (NECR) over the Connecticut River line in addition to service it already receives from Guilford Rail System subsidiary Springfield Terminal Railway Co. (ST).

NECR, a RailAmerica Inc. subsidiary that owns the Connecticut River line, would operate over the line subject to ST's exclusive trackage rights.

In 1988, STB predecessor Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) required Boston & Maine Corp. (B&M) to sell its Connecticut River line to Amtrak, subject to trackage rights enabling B&M to continue exclusively serving its existing customers. Amtrak later transferred the line to Central Vermont Railway Inc. (CV).

ICC in 1990 determined that customers B&M exclusively served actually began receiving service a year before the line's transfer in the late 1980s.
NECR later obtained CV's interest in the Connecticut River line and ST, B&M's trackage rights over the line.

Propane distributor Rymes Heating, which in the mid-1990s built a new facility near the Connecticut River line, wasn't satisfied with ST's service and in the late 1990s decided it wanted to receive NECR's service.

However, ST officials argued that under ICC's 1990 terms and conditions, they had the right to exclusively serve Rymes Heating because the shipper connected its newly constructed track to a portion of a rail siding on the line that ST predecessor B&M served before the line's transfer.

STB ruled that this connection to a B&M-served siding was too remote to consider Rymes Heating an "existing" shipper or a shipper at an "existing" location under the ICC-imposed terms and conditions. The board noted that Rymes Heating built its facility in 1995-96 on separate property that previously contained no tracks or facilities, and first tendered a shipment on the line in November 1996. Neither Rymes Heating nor its facility had been served by B&M, and therefore the shipper now is entitled to obtain NECR's service, STB said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/19/2002