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BNSF, UP can compete for southeast Houston shippers' business, STB says

It's official: BNSF Railway Co. has the right to operate over a 15.6-mile Union Pacific Railroad line to serve Bayport Industrial District shippers in southeast Houston.

Yesterday, the Surface Transportation Board announced it approved the trackage rights agreement BNSF and UP reached in December. The Class Is needed the board to bless the deal, which will create dual rail service — as well as offer competitive relief to a few captive chemical shippers.

Owned by BNSF and four chemical shippers, San Jacinto Rail Ltd. had planned to build a 12.8-mile line in the Bayport district to provide competitive rail service — a proposal the STB approved in May 2003. But ongoing litigation in Texas courts delayed construction for more than two years, leading to the BNSF/UP pact.

"Our agency has been involved in the process of bringing two railroads to these Bayport shippers for a long time, and I am pleased that we have done our part to make the agreement the railroads negotiated work," said STB Chairman Roger Nober in a prepared statement.

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More News from 2/4/2005