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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BNSF's competing line for UCC nets initial STB nod


Surface Transportation Board June 19 conditionally granted Burlington Northern Santa Fe an exemption request to build and operate a seven-mile line between Seadrift and Kamey, Texas, which would connect to Union Carbide Corp.'s (UCC) Seadrift plant.
The line also would connect with a former Southern Pacific Railroad line between Placedo and Port Lavaca, Texas, now owned by Union Pacific Railroad.
STB plans to consider the line's environmental impacts before issuing final approval.
UCC annually produces several billion pounds of chemicals and plastics, which are shipped to customers or other U.S. UCC plants for processing.
In the late 1980s, UCC determined that a new line would provide an alternative to SP's exclusive rail service from Seadrift. But a line never was built because UCC couldn't reach a full commercial agreement with SP.
As part of the 1996 UP/SP merger, STB granted UCC a condition preserving the company's line build-out option, which also granted trackage rights to BNSF over SP's Victoria-to-Port Lavaca line.
In its decision, STB notes that BNSF's exemption would promote national transportation policy by providing alternative rail service options to UCC and by increasing competition.