STB approval of rail line makes history

Written by Douglas John Bowen

The Surface Transportation Board on Monday granted final approval for what it called "a first of its kind" rail line. It gave R.J. Corman Railroad Co./Pennsylvania Lines Inc. (RJCP) authority "to build and operate a new rail line using right-of-way previously rail-banked as well as new right-of-way, near Wallaceton, Pa.

”This is the first instance in which the Board examined a new rail line construction proposal combined with restoration of rail service over a rail-banked right-of-way,'” said the board. “The entire rail line would provide rail service to a proposed new waste-to-ethanol facility, a quarry, an industrial park now under development near Gorton, Pa., and to other shippers along the line.”

Advocates for both freight and passenger rail frequently complain that rail-banked rights-of-way are too quickly or too often turned over to exclusive non-rail uses, including conversion to hiking or recreational trails.

RJCP operates in the Pennsylvania coal fields east of Pittsburgh and northwest of State College, Pa., spanning six counties. RJCP interchanges with Norfolk Southern.