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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 5:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 969
Location: New Franklin, OH
I’m no lawyer but it seems to me that until UP officially petitions to abandon the right of way, they still hold the right to operate on it “someday”. Unless something has drastically changed with the federal government, UP can hold the line simply as out of service for an indefinite period. If they decide to throw some ties in, tighten joints and bump a few boulders out of the way to run trains, there ain’t much any of of the adjacent property owners can do about it. I’d guess that if UP wanted to retain the right of way and lease to an operator that will maintain it in order to earn some cash while they sit on it, when push comes shove, UP would prevail if they choose to. Moral is, if you don’t ever want to see, hear, smell, etc. trains, don’t buy property next to existing tracks that aren’t abandoned. Do your research/buyer beware. It’s akin to buying a house at the end of a runway and then filing lawsuits to stop the noise. You won’t win and the lawyers will smile when they make their deposits at the bank.

I need another bag of popcorn....

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 6:51 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 1428
jayrod wrote:
Unless something has drastically changed with the federal government, UP can hold the line simply as out of service for an indefinite period. If they decide to throw some ties in, tighten joints and bump a few boulders out of the way to run trains, there ain’t much any of of the adjacent property owners can do about it. I’d guess that if UP wanted to retain the right of way and lease to an operator that will maintain it in order to earn some cash while they sit on it, when push comes shove, UP would prevail if they choose to.

Absolutely right, or they could restore operations and then try to sell it at the existing level of operations. This ruling is about transfer to another operator, not operations themselves. CSX and CP are hoping for expedited hearings also in their bids to merge with Pan Am and KCS, respectively, but if they get a "no" you can bet they won't drop their takeover attempts. I still do frankly wonder if this attempt to sell is a charade, meant to justify an abandonment application by UP ("well, they won't let us sell it, so what can we do?").


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 10:13 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
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Location: New Franklin, OH
You have to wonder if the only reason UP is sitting on it is for an alternate route if Moffat goes down big time. It’s unlikely to be sold to a potential competitor outside of a forced sale. It doesn’t cost much to keep on the books. I can’t imagine anyone of consequence would protest the abandonment so UP could file any time for the unused portion. Then again, the cost to salvage anything would’t cover the costs to abandon. It’s an interesting dilemma.

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2021 10:32 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 1428
jayrod wrote:
You have to wonder if the only reason UP is sitting on it is for an alternate route if Moffat goes down big time. It’s unlikely to be sold to a potential competitor outside of a forced sale. It doesn’t cost much to keep on the books. I can’t imagine anyone of consequence would protest the abandonment so UP could file any time for the unused portion. Then again, the cost to salvage anything would’t cover the costs to abandon. It’s an interesting dilemma.

No, they were ready to abandon it and sell the land and water rights in Minturn to Vail Associates in the late nineties, until the State of Colorado told UP they wanted it to stay in place as a possible bypass around Denver for coal trains. At that time no one knew the bottom would drop out of the coal market and CO was afraid of one coal train after another running through the city on the way to Texas.


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:07 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 102
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
jayrod wrote:
I’m no lawyer but it seems to me that until UP officially petitions to abandon the right of way, they still hold the right to operate on it “someday”. Unless something has drastically changed with the federal government, UP can hold the line simply as out of service for an indefinite period. If they decide to throw some ties in, tighten joints and bump a few boulders out of the way to run trains, there ain’t much any of of the adjacent property owners can do about it. I’d guess that if UP wanted to retain the right of way and lease to an operator that will maintain it in order to earn some cash while they sit on it, when push comes shove, UP would prevail if they choose to. Moral is, if you don’t ever want to see, hear, smell, etc. trains, don’t buy property next to existing tracks that aren’t abandoned. Do your research/buyer beware. It’s akin to buying a house at the end of a runway and then filing lawsuits to stop the noise. You won’t win and the lawyers will smile when they make their deposits at the bank.

I need another bag of popcorn....


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2021 10:31 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 102
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Quote:
PMC wrote:
jayrod wrote:
You have to wonder if the only reason UP is sitting on it is for an alternate route if Moffat goes down big time. It’s unlikely to be sold to a potential competitor outside of a forced sale. It doesn’t cost much to keep on the books. I can’t imagine anyone of consequence would protest the abandonment so UP could file any time for the unused portion. Then again, the cost to salvage anything would’t cover the costs to abandon. It’s an interesting dilemma.

No, they were ready to abandon it and sell the land and water rights in Minturn to Vail Associates in the late nineties, until the State of Colorado told UP they wanted it to stay in place as a possible bypass around Denver for coal trains. At that time no one knew the bottom would drop out of the coal market and CO was afraid of one coal train after another running through the city on the way to Texas.


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 Post subject: Is it wrong?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 173
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
From what it sounds like, the STB is only stopping the lease/sale of the line to Colorado Midland Pacific, but Union Pacific could simply rehabilitate the trackage and run trains at any time.

Is it wrong for me to want Union Pacific to do repairs to the line themselves and start running trains on Tennessee Pass, just to spite those who don't want it to be an active railroad any more? :)

I was finally able to visit the line back in 2018, when I dragged my family to Colorado for a vacation. We rode the Royal Gorge excursion, then drove along the ROW up to Salida on our way to Alamosa. My wife was annoyed that I kept pulling over to take pictures of the tracks. I explored the old yard in Salida, and I wish that I could have seen it alive with trains, but glad I was able to see what was still there. Western railroading seems to have a different vibe from our railroad back east.

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:07 pm
Posts: 156
Location: Utah
You may want to re-read the articles. The STB isn't stopping anything. The only thing that they did was reject the expedited approval process. They did not kill the lease. Rio Grande Pacific/Colorado Midland & Pacific is still moving forward with the normal, non-expedited review process.

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 Post subject: Government approval process
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 5:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 173
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
Utah Josh wrote:
You may want to re-read the articles. The STB isn't stopping anything. The only thing that they did was reject the expedited approval process. They did not kill the lease. Rio Grande Pacific/Colorado Midland & Pacific is still moving forward with the normal, non-expedited review process.


Good point Josh! I was aware that it was just the expedited approval process that was rejected, but I also harbor the pessimistic viewpoint that environmental groups will be able to manhandle the current government agencies who make decisions.

I hope that I'm not right, and that the CMP will be able to survive the extended approval process, without it taking something like fifteen years.

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:30 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 102
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
For some reason I don't completely understand, I'm shown as the author of the posts at 9:07 and 9:31 PM on 3/29. I'm not the author of either of these posts. I did, in fact, REPLY to them, but the replies were never posted. I don't understand why this happened either, since there was no purple prose or anything else in my posts that should caused the moderators to reject them.


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:41 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 969
Location: New Franklin, OH
I don’t believe you were moderated. However, I do believe you were glitched. Some electrons got misplaced while others wandered off into the ether. I noticed some hinky site behavior that day. Might have been something as simple as host maintenance.

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:15 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 102
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
PMC's note of 3/30 states that UP was ready to abandon the TP line in the late 90's until the State of Colorado told UP they wanted the line to stay in place as a possible Denver bypass.

This isn't what happened. I was at UP at the time and very closely involved in the TP discontinuance/abandonment. During the UP/SP merger, UP made commitments to the state of Colorado that it would cooperate with the state to find a buyer for all or part of the Colorad abandonment lines. The result of that commitment was the sale of the Canon City-Parkdale segment to Royal Gorge Express, a partnership comprised of Rock & Rail (a freight road) and Canon City & Royal Gorge (a tourist road). The state evaluation panel considered a larger proposal by an outfit called Colorado Kansas & Pacific for the entire TP line and the Towner Line, but rejected it as unrealistic. At that point, the only remaining commitment UP had to the state was, when it finalized abandonment of the rest of the TP line, to sell the ROW for a trail at net liquidation value of the real estate, and UP expected to do this in short order.

Then came UP's 1997-98 service meltdown. As a result, UP decided to retain several lines it had previously planned to abandon which represented potential future capacity. The TP line was the major line in this category. UP informed STB of its decision to retain the line in "discontinued" status in 1998. And so it has remained ever since.

I've since retired from UP, and I have no information as to why UP has retained the TP line in "discontinued" status all of these years, particularly with the collapse of Colorado coal traffic. I also don't understand the reasons for the more recent CMP lease. But, whatever the reasons may be, these were clearly deliberate decisions, not oversights. My own view (which is simply my own speculation) is that this may be related to the upcoming expiration of the Moffat Tunnel lease in 2025 (the state owns the tunnel - UP leases it)


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:45 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
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Robert Opal wrote:
At that point, the only remaining commitment UP had to the state was, when it finalized abandonment of the rest of the TP line, to sell the ROW for a trail at net liquidation value of the real estate, and UP expected to do this in short order.

You are talking about formal, juridical obligations. What I recall from the time: I lived in Denver then, my uncle worked for the Rio Grande until retiring (he had the distinction of being thrown through a plate-glass window at the notorious bar in Minturn during a fight), and mostly, there was talk in the media, including the two Denver newspapers, but also an article in Trains magazine at the time, written by someone who started with the Rio Grande but is now apparently associated with one of the efforts to take over TP. The operative word in all of those sources was "capacity": as you point out, UP's problems had a lot to do with reducing capacity (primarily in TX) after the SP takeover, and Colorado had noted it. Now, as you say, UP had no formal commitment to the state to keep it in place, but that is different from saying that the state couldn't do anything about it. Indeed, it had been communicated to them QUITE clearly that any abandonment/ dismantlement would be opposed, along with many other unfortunate consequences for a company with many main lines in the state, some of which were causing unpopular disruptions with the public (e.g. the route between Denver and the Springs, which hauled very profitable coal trains of both lines between both the PRB and the old RG and Texas, and had been single tracked in a cost cutting move).


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:19 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 102
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Well, I was never thrown through a plate glass window in Minturn, but I was on the "front line" of UP's dealings with Colorado officials on the TP line during and after the UP/SP merger. As such, I can say with some authority (not "I heard it from someone who heard it from someone else") that this was not what happened. Our dealings with the state were collaborative and not in any way confrontational. Anyone who suggests otherwise clearly wasn't in the loop. Our objective was to make a "friendly" deal with the state and avoid a confrontation, and that is exactly what we did.

And, again, I point out that UP's ultimate decision to retain the TP line was made in 1998, AFTER the UP/SP merger had been approved and effectuated. It was an internal decision made in response to UP's post merger service meltdown. During the merger proceeding, the state and everyone else understood that UP intended to abandon the line, and the state did NOT oppose the abandonment That's the reason the deal we made with the state called for selling off all or part of the line for continued rail service (which resulted in the Canon City-Parkdale sale), and selling the rest of the ROW for a trail following final abandonment.


Last edited by Robert Opal on Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:25 pm 

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Robert Opal wrote:
Well, since I was on the "front line" of UP's dealings with Colorado officials on the TP line during and after the UP/SP merger, I can say with some authority that this was not what happened. Our dealings with the state were collaborative and not in any way confrontational. Anyone who claims otherwise clearly wasn't in the loop. Our objective was to make a "friendly" deal with the state and avoid a confrontation, and that is exactly what we did.

And, again, I point out that UP's ultimate decision to retain the TP line was made in 1998, AFTER the UP/SP merger had been approved and effectuated. It was an internal decision made in response to UP's post merger service meltdown. During the merger proceeding, the state and everyone else understood that UP intended to abandon the line. That's the reason the deal we made with the state called for selling off all or part of the line for continued rail service (which resulted in the Canon City-Parkdale sale), and selling the rest of the ROW for a trail following final abandonment.

You keep saying "that's not what happened", but your alternative is completely consistent with what I had just said. "Our objective was to make a "friendly" deal with the state and avoid a confrontation, and that is exactly what we did." is not the same as "we had no formal agreement so we could do anything we wanted".


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