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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Surface Transportation Board

Wisconsin Central, Discontinuance of Service - Ashland and Iron Counties, WI;

and Gogebic and Ontonagon Counties, MI

 
Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WCL) has filed a verified notice of 
Abandonments and Discontinuances of Service to discontinue service over approximately 
77.8 miles of rail line, known as the White Pine Subdivision, between 
milepost 332.4 at Marengo Junction, Wis., and milepost 254.6 at White 
Pine, Mich., in Ashland and Iron Counties, Wis., and Gogebic and 
Ontonagon Counties, Mich. (the Line). The Line traverses United States 
Postal Service Zip Codes 49910, 49911, 49938, 49947, 49953, 49968, 
54534, 54559, 54806, and 54855.

    WCL has certified that: (1) No local traffic has moved over the 
Line for at least two years; (2) there is no overhead traffic on the 
Line; (3) no formal complaint filed by a user of rail service on the 
Line (or by a state or local government entity acting on behalf of such 
user) regarding cessation of service over the Line either is pending 
with the Surface Transportation Board (Board) or with any U.S. District 
Court or has been decided in favor of complainant within the two-year 
period; and (4) the requirements at 49 CFR 1105.12 (newspaper 
publication) and 49 CFR 1152.50(d)(1) (notice to governmental agencies) 
have been met.

    As a condition to this exemption, any employee adversely affected 
by the discontinuance shall be protected under Oregon Short Line 
Railroad--Abandonment Portion Goshen Branch Between Firth & Ammon, in 
Bingham & Bonneville Counties, Idaho, 360 I.C.C. 91 (1979). To address 
whether this condition adequately protects affected employees, a 
petition for partial revocation under 49 U.S.C. 10502(d) must be filed.
    Provided no formal expression of intent to file an offer of 
financial assistance (OFA) to subsidize continued rail service has been 
received, this exemption will become effective on January 2, 2015
unless stayed pending reconsideration.



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.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

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.