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UP, VTA need no STB stamp of approval for dual-operating California line

Surface Transportation Board Nov. 16 ruled its approval is not necessary to enable Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to acquire 5.8 track miles from Union Pacific Railroad in Santa Clara, Calif.
The board dismissed VTA's motion seeking a verified notice of exemption from regulation. UP and VTA now can finalize an agreement designed to permit both freight and passenger service on the line.
VTA plans to acquire UP's track, then extend its light rail system on the northerly portion of the line; UP would operate freight trains on the southern end.
To accommodate dual operations, UP would relocate and reconstruct track on the southern portion.
Under agreement terms, UP would retain an exclusive easement on the line, and VTA would be prohibited from using all or any portion of the southern line for freight operations.
STB was to consider whether VTA's acquisition of UP's rail assets required regulatory authorization and whether VTA would be considered a regulated common carrier.
The board determined VTA wouldn't become a common carrier based on current law and that the transaction wouldn't impair UP's ability to maintain its common-carrier obligations.

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More News from 11/16/2001