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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Surface Transportation Board

[Docket No. FD 35848]


Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, L.L.C.--Acquisition and Operation 
Exemption--Union Pacific Railroad Company

AGENCY: Surface Transportation Board.

ACTION: Notice of acquisition and operation exemption.

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SUMMARY: The Board is granting an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502 from 
the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 10902 for Wisconsin & 
Southern Railroad, L.L.C. (WSOR), a Class II rail carrier, to acquire 
from the Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) and operate a permanent 
exclusive freight rail operating easement over approximately 69.62 
miles of rail line (the Line) in the State of Wisconsin. Specifically, 
the Line includes: (a) The Reedsburg Line, between milepost 134.0 and 
milepost 191.90 near Reedsburg; (b) the Central Soya Industrial Lead, 
between milepost 83.78 and milepost 85.5 in Madison; and (c) the 
Cottage Grove Industrial Lead, between milepost 81.00 and milepost 
71.00. WSOR has been the exclusive operator over the Line since 1996 
pursuant to a lease with UP, and upon consummation of the transaction, 
will continue to operate the line. The exemption is subject to standard 
labor protective conditions. In the same decision, the Board is 
granting WSOR a waiver of the employee notice requirements of 49 CFR 
1121.4(h).

DATES: This exemption will be effective on December 6, 2014. Petitions 
to stay must be filed by November 17, 2014. Petitions to reopen must be 
filed by November 26, 2014.
    

 

 

 

Lipinski on track with new rail policy post in Congress

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Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, is poised to become the highest-ranking Democrat on a House subcommittee on railroads at a time when issues involving Metra and Amtrak will be barreling down the track next year.

His Southwest Side turf has more rail lines than any congressional district in the country, or so he claims. “No one has disputed that,” Lipinski said. “It's just critically

important to this area.” His father and predecessor as congressman, William Lipinski, also served as the senior Democrat on the rail panel.

Although the subcommittee passed an Amtrak reauthorization bill in September, it's expected to die without a House vote when Congress adjourns. That bill didn't make cuts in Amtrak service, he said, but “the question is whether federal support will continue” when the legislation comes up again with Republicans in control of the Senate next year, when the GOP increases its majority in the House of Representatives.

The Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials subcommittee also has to decide whether to extend next year's deadline for the rail industry to install sophisticated collision-avoidance equipment, called positive train control. Metra is very concerned about the cost, he added.

The system is expected to cost Metra “upwards of $400 million,” according to a spokesman for the commuter rail service.

About $133 million of that expense is in hand, with rest expected to come from recently approved fare hikes.

Lipinski said there's talk of adding a railroad or freight section to a massive highway-transit bill that's coming up for renewal in May, which would help steer funding to rail projects such as Chicago's bottleneck-eliminating Create program.

Does that also mean more money to complete the Chicago-St.Louis high-speed rail project? “My expectation is it's going to be extremely difficult,” the congressman said.