STB to review small roads' abandonment rules

STB to review small roads' abandonment rules

The Surface Transportation Board will examine small railroads' rail-line abandonment procedures to find ways to facilitate the sale and preservation of lightly used, low-density branch lines. The board expects to conduct a hearing in the fall.

In May 65 regional and short line railroads petitioned the board to simplify the procedures, claiming the existing process render lines less than attractive for a potential acquisition.

The operators want to be able to publish a notice of abandonment, including recent traffic, revenue and other vital data, as soon as a line is considered unviable. Interested parties would then have 90 days to acquire the line for its net liquidation value; current law requires action within 30 days.

The seller would then assure the buyer continued access to existing gateways under a haulage or trackage rights agreement.