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U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) recently sent a letter to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California supporting an investigation into the development of freight-rail service on the Desert Line and the current lease agreement between the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and Pacific Imperial Railroad (PIR).In late 2012, PIR obtained a 99-year lease from MTS to improve and operate the 130-mile Desert Line, which serves the Tijuana-Tecate region of Baja California, Mexico and eastern San Diego County. The line extends north and east from the international border to Plaster City, Calif., where it intersects a Union Pacific Railroad line from El Centro, Calif. The lease provides PIR sole rights to operate freight-rail service between the border crossing at San Ysidro and border crossing at Tecate and Division.A collection of evidence at the U.S. attorney's office for review raises serious questions and concerns about the lease agreement and PIR’s activities, said Hunter, a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure member, in a press release. For example, PIR has "falsified and misrepresented its assets" to attract investors while keeping the lease agreement profitable, he said. PIR officials did not respond to a request for comments."The evidence that has accumulated against PIR and the Desert Line lease is troubling," said Hunter. "The railroad is a public asset and anytime there are allegations or there is evidence of unlawful activity in a situation like this, it is necessary that the proper legal authority determines the facts through its ability to obtain relevant documentation and testimonial evidence."
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