Thursday, June 20, 2013

STB OKs service shuffle on Louisiana rail line

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The Surface Transportation Board has granted permission to Union Pacific Railroad to cease service on 12.5 miles of the Lockport Branch, located in Lofourche Parish, La., which UP owns, while affirming rival Class I railroad BNSF to continue operating over 14.1 miles of the branch, rejecting UP objections.

STB's decision, Docket No. AB 33 (Sub-No. 277), was made Monday, June 17, 2013, and posted Wednesday on STB's website. "The Board is allowing both the discontinuance and trackage rights exemptions to take effect on the service date of this decision," STB said.

"On December 6, 2011, BNSF submitted a letter asserting that it has authority sanctioned by the Board to serve customers on the portion of the Line that UP sought to abandon," the decision read in part. "BNSF argued that UP should not be permitted to consummate the abandonment until BNSF voluntarily discontinues its authority to serve customers on the Line. UP contested BNSF's claim."

STB ruled, "BNSF's notice of exemption is effective on the service date of this decision," and added, "UP's petition to reject BNSF's notice of exemption is denied."

But STB also noted, Following discontinuance, the Line will remain part of the national transportation system and subject to the Board's jurisdiction; therefore, UP can choose to resume service without obtaining new authorization from the Board. Thus, narrowing UP's exemption will also remedy a concern raised by BNSF and Valentine, who objected to consummation of UP's proposed abandonment because it would prevent resumption of service."

Click here to access the full STB decision.