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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:15 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
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Indeed, though I'm sure UP would take the traffic after someone else paid to get it up to 10k feet and over the divide. Another issue is that BNSF has trackage rights on the Moffat Route and then on to California, I wonder if a new company could hand trains over to BNSF to take to the coast? One thing I noted in the article is that these NY guys are looking to contract operations to Watco, which pretty much means no steam or excursions over Tennessee Pass.


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 3:02 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 179
The Union Pacific is in a poor position. Much like mining, foresting, farming, etc, the Federal Government owns land and leases it to people for production. You simply pay the taxes on the land every year to use it. You never really own it. Sometimes you get the land for free (such as if the previous tenant failed to pay taxes). The current tenant can also sell you his deed if the land is valuable such as a gold mine claim. Once again you don't own it and never will, but you can have it as long as you like, as long as you pay the taxes. It's a great system. Free land if you want to use for something productive. There are rules such as you can't build a house on your land. It's meant for producing.

I have read some of these claims and many say that you must either be working the land or making improvements to the property. If you fail to do either then the Government will take back the land and give it to someone else. In this case the Union Pacific hasn't done anything productive or made improvements to this route since it closed. The prospecting owner has a strong case for this land including a solid plan with financial backing.

Even if the Union Pacific has a buyer, the buyer must still have a plan for the route. Otherwise it's just back to dead, unproductive land. I am not sure but likely some right of way has already been deeded to probably dozens of other people who are doing something to the land. In those cases it could be a long legal battle especially if they are doing large scale mining. In any case it's pretty clear that the long dormant Tennessee pass is about to rumble again. It might be turned into a highway or used as a railroad.


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 12:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
CREEPING DEATH wrote:
Sounds like the buyer went a little 'New York' on the UP, not exactly the best way to build relationships.
I recall reading a federal publication that specifically advised against this maneuver, something like "How well do you think negotiating rates will go with a Class 1 you just forced to sell you a branch line?"

CD


I definitely see your point there. They would be on poor footings for future rate negotiations.

But I also think that the powerful people behind KCVN probably weren't too pleased to be rebuffed as a common, underfunded shortline railroad would be. They probably think that UP is not being truthful with the "other interested parties" stuff, and intend to call that bluff. I imagine that Mr. Soloviev knows how things work in the business world.

I for one am fascinated by this whole thing, and would be thrilled if it results in this dormant Tennessee Pass being reactivated!

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 4:20 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:39 pm
Posts: 15
The reason that the Tennessee Pass/Royal Gorge Route is part of STRATRAIL the list of critical lines for national defense is solely as a backup for if something were to happen to the Moffat Tunnel. Otherwise the UP is habitually afraid of either BNSF or others gathering a route off of their tracks or through partnered ownership of track to the Salt Lake/Ogden gateway to be able to truely be able to challenge there monopoly of everything between there and Oakland as being while on paper BNSF has rights west of Salt Lake they have to completely turn over their trains to the UP for everything going west of there or coming west to there. By having a completely owned route there would make forcing a true trackage rights or full challenge of the monopoly much easier.


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 Post subject: UP replies to the STB
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
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Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
As expected, UP has replied saying "NO!" to KCVN:

https://prod.stb.gov/proceedings-actions/filings/
Filing date: 3/2/2020
Docket Number: FD_36386
Filing ID: 300453

https://dcms-external.s3.amazonaws.com/ ... 300453.pdf

Quote:
The February 14, 2020 feeder line application filed by KCVN, LLC and Colorado Pacific Railroad, LLC (collectively “KCVN”) is legally unsupportable. In the coming days, Union Pacific will file a formal request that you reject KCVN’s application.


Quote:
The Tennessee Pass Line is simply not an appropriate target for a feeder line application. The feeder line process was created to preserve rail service to existing shippers. It is meant to prevent railroads from allowing active rail lines to fall into such a state of disrepair that shippers can no longer ship via rail.


Quote:
KCVN’s feeder line application does not fall within either the letter or the spirit of the feeder line application procedure. The Board should not intervene to force Union Pacific to sell the Line and lose a valuable, strategically important corridor where no shipper on the Line is receiving inadequate service. Nor should the Board allow KCVN’s attempt to secure the Line through regulatory means to interfere with market participants working toward a privately negotiated transaction

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:06 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 2:31 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Quote:
Indeed, though I'm sure UP would take the traffic after someone else paid to get it up to 10k feet and over the divide. Another issue is that BNSF has trackage rights on the Moffat Route and then on to California, I wonder if a new company could hand trains over to BNSF to take to the coast? One thing I noted in the article is that these NY guys are looking to contract operations to Watco, which pretty much means no steam or excursions over Tennessee Pass.


Watco has hosted excursions, including under steam (LASTA SP 745) in Kansas. They also permitted Iowa Pacific to operate "Eastern Flyer" demonstration trips and excursions in Oklahoma.


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 6:32 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2017 2:37 pm
Posts: 56
Very unlikely, that WATCO would entertain any thoughts of steam or passenger excursions over their properties/leased properties with the exception of using the three, old, RDCs for local Kansas runs.

After, their less than positive experience with Iowa Pacific down in Oklahoma and Wisconsin...with too many loose, financial debts left behind it's very doubtful WATCO will be interested in excursions.

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 Post subject: UP and Rock and Rail fire back
PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2020 1:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
Three new documents were filed with the STB as seen here: https://prod.stb.gov/proceedings-actions/filings/
Under docket number FD_36386

Both UP and Rock and Rail fire back, saying that KVCN's statement of:
“all of the statutory and policy justifications for a forced sale set forth in Section 10907 and the STB’s feeder line program are easily met in this case.”
is not true.

As a summary....

Rock and Rail says:
Quote:
THE TENNESSEE PASS LINE CONSISTS OF NUMEROUS OWNERS AND OWNERSHIP INTERESTS AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A UP OWNED RAILROAD LINE THAT CAN BE ACQUIRED UNDER THE FEEDER LINE STATUTE

APPLICANTS HAVE FAILED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT ANY OF THE PC&N FACTORS DIRECTED AT SHIPPERS CAN OR ARE MET

CONCLUSION
The simple fact is that the Application, while laudable in its goal to restore service over
the discontinued portion of the Tennessee Pass Line, cannot be accepted as currently structured. Applicants’ have not established that the interests currently possessed by UP over the various segments of the Tennessee Pass Line meet the criteria of a “railroad line” over which one can file a feeder line application, nor could they. UP does not own and does not operate the Canon City to Parkdale segment and the line between Pueblo and Canon City is owned and operated jointly between UP and R&R. Furthermore, Applicants have failed to establish even a prima facie showing that any of the criteria of §10907(c)(1) are met or can be met with further discovery or an evidentiary proceeding. As such, the Director of OP should reject the Application, or, at a minimum, reject that portion of the Application that pertains to the Cañon City to Parkdale Segment and the Pueblo to Cañon City Segment.


UP Says:
Quote:
KCVN’s Application contains basic deficiencies because the Line is not properly subject to a feeder line application. Congress enacted the feeder line statute to preserve feeder lines and to preserve service to existing shippers. The Line is not a feeder line. It is a critical alternative rail line through the Rocky Mountains. And no shipper who transports traffic over the Line has complained about Union Pacific’s existing service. KCVN’s Application also fails to establish that KCVN qualifies as a “financially responsible person.” The Board should reject KCVN’s effort to seize the Line from Union Pacific.

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:50 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 76
The majority of the article is behind a Trains Magazine paywall, but it makes clear there is a third party in play; Rio Grande Pacific: https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2 ... -crude-oil

It seems RGP is interested in growing their western railroads, seeing they are also spearheading the Uinta Basin Project in Utah. I actually briefly chatted with RGP's Mark Hemphill at the Hostler's Train Show in Ogden last Friday. I am glad it wasn't public knowledge that RGP was planning on bidding for Tennessee Pass before the show, or else poor Mark would have been pestered by every foamer in the building, especially since that show was full of many many many Rio Grande fanatics who would sacrifice their own mother to see trains on Tennessee Pass again!


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
xboxtravis7992 wrote:
The majority of the article is behind a Trains Magazine paywall, but it makes clear there is a third party in play; Rio Grande Pacific: https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2 ... -crude-oil

It seems RGP is interested in growing their western railroads, seeing they are also spearheading the Uinta Basin Project in Utah. I actually briefly chatted with RGP's Mark Hemphill at the Hostler's Train Show in Ogden last Friday. I am glad it wasn't public knowledge that RGP was planning on bidding for Tennessee Pass before the show, or else poor Mark would have been pestered by every foamer in the building, especially since that show was full of many many many Rio Grande fanatics who would sacrifice their own mother to see trains on Tennessee Pass again!


Wow! I checked the STB filings last night, and the document was already redacted. I did my normal gEEk tricks to see if I could get text out, but it was already converted to spaces. That's wild that the Rio Grand Pacific is the other group competing for the line's operation. Very interesting to suddenly have multiple parties interested in this line after all of this time. Maybe they could work it out to have oil East and grain West!

I never got to see the Tennessee Pass in operation, but two years ago I dragged my family out West on a vacation, and we rode the Royal Gorge Train, then followed the ROW up to Salida, before driving down to Alamosa. I kept stopping and taking pictures, imagining what it would have been like to see heavy trains on that line.

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 Post subject: STB responses
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 9:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2004 10:51 pm
Posts: 110
Location: Eastern Pennsylvania
So, on 03/13/2020 the STB issued two decisions under docket FD 36386.

In document 50182, they strike down the KCVN line sale demand, saying that the application is incomplete:
https://dcms-external.s3.amazonaws.com/DCMS_External_PROD/1584132594440/50182.pdf

Quote:
A feeder line application must include the information set forth at 49 C.F.R. § 1151.3(a). Under 49 C.F.R. § 1151.2(b), the Board, through the Director of the Office of Proceedings, must accept a complete feeder line application or reject one that is incomplete no later than 30 days after the application is filed. Because the application does not contain the information required under § 1151.3(a), the application will be rejected as incomplete.


Beyond that technicality, they go on to argue that the line may not fall under the statue for feeder line sale.
Quote:
An application under the PC&N standard must contain “detailed evidence that permits the Board to find,” in accordance with 49 U.S.C. § 10907(c), all of the following:
(A) The rail carrier operating the line refused within a reasonable time to make the necessary efforts to provide adequate service to shippers who transport traffic over the line;
(B) The transportation over the line is inadequate for the majority of shippers who transport traffic over the line;
(C) The sale of the line will not have a significantly adverse financial effect on the rail carrier operating the line;
(D) The sale of the line will not have an adverse effect on the overall operational performance of the rail carrier operating the line; and
(E) The sale of the line will be likely to result in improved railroad transportation for shippers who transport traffic over the line.


Quote:
It is ordered:
1. Applicants’ feeder line application is rejected without prejudice to filing a new application.
2. Applicants’ request for issuance of a protective order is dismissed as moot.
3. UP’s motion to reject and R&R’s motion for partial rejection are denied as moot.
4. This decision is effective on its service date.


In document 50185, it looks like the STB approved the UP's Motion For Protective Order, dealing with confidential information being shared.

It looks like Trains.com has an article on this, but I'm not a subscriber, so I don't know what it says.

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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 12:32 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 179
The article says in short that the Rio Grande Pacific was already negotiating with the Union Pacific to buy the Tennessee Pass route. If purchased the route would see 3 to 10 trains daily hauling crude oil and fracking sand. It does not appear the KCVN corporation which was trying to take over the route by force, by using feeder extension laws has made any progress. Further arguments will be heard in that case.

With crude oil down to the twenty somethings a barrel, it is almost certain that the Rio Grande Pacific will give up on this project. With no progress being made with the KCVN corporation, the future is not looking so bright for the Tennessee Pass route. I am surprised that billionaire is being so cheap with the land deal. If he wants it that bad he should make a good offer. Even if he paid double his original offer of ten million it hardly puts a dent in his pocket book.


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 9:16 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:17 pm
Posts: 63
How much traffic is even operated over the Moffat/WP route now without the previous coal traffic? Haven't there been continual rumors that line could be mothballed?


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 1027
It has occurred to me that the NY group was never interested in operating their own railroad, but that the attempt to force UP to sell Tennessee Pass could have been a bluff intended to coax UP to lower its rates for grain. The Moffat Tunnel route actually struggles with heavy westbounds through the tunnel district, there was a rule around 1992 when the SP started handling grain off the KP for UP that what qualified as a "grain train" (based on the symbol) was not to be put in a siding over the entire district to avoid starting them on the grade, which really tied up the railroad.


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 Post subject: Re: Tennessee Pass route may be sold
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 11:29 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 179
CA1 wrote:
How much traffic is even operated over the Moffat/WP route now without the previous coal traffic? Haven't there been continual rumors that line could be mothballed?


There is two daily Amtraks and not much else. I am a regular visitor to the Moffat Route and have no seen any freights the last 7 times I was up there. Last year it was probably averaging around 6 trains per day including Amtrak. The BNSF was running a sand train now and then but have not seen that since last year. I believe Union Pacific still runs a weekly coal train. Even in Wyoming on the Cheyenne to North Platte main line you might not see a train for over 3 hours now. That line used to be non stop action. I don't know where all the rail traffic went. It just seemed to disappear.


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