How many miles of abandoned rail lines been returned to service ?

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How many miles of abandoned rail lines been returned to service ?
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Thursday, May 25, 2017 9:14 AM

How many miles of abandoned rail lines been returned to service?

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Posted by Falcon48 on Friday, June 30, 2017 11:59 PM

ROBERT WILLISON

How many miles of abandoned rail lines been returned to service?

 

I don't have a specific number for you.  But my offhand answer is "not much", if you're are talking about "fully abandoned" lines.   By "fully abandoned" I mean a line where the railroad "consummated" an STB/ICC approved or exempted abandonment, not a line whch was put into trail use under the National Trails Systems Act (NTSA).  The latter lines are not deemed to be "abandoned".

To my mind, Class I railroads in recent years have not been particularly aggressive in "abandoning" rail lines where they see any possiblilty for future use, even if pretty remote.  What a railroad will typically do in these situations is to obtain "discontinuance" authority from STB (rather than "abandonment" authority) and leave the line in place.  A good example of this approach is the UP (ex DRGW) "Tennessee Pass" line in Colorado, which has been "discontinued" since 1997, but never fully abanodned. 

My experience is that a  railroad that knows what it's doing will typically not use a NTSA trail conversion as a way to preserve a rail corridor for future rail use.  Even though the railroad would technically have an absolute right to restore rail service on a NTSA corridor essentailly at will, the political fallout of tearing up an established rail/trail could be pretty adverse (think "firestorm"). The better approach for a railroad which wants to hold a corridor for possible future use is the "discontinuance" approach described above.   

 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 02, 2017 2:50 PM

Many if not most of the modern light rail sysems use in part the roadbed of an abandoned or even still functioning railroad line or a roadbed of an abandoned interurban line.  The Baltimore light rail system used much of the Baltimore and Anapolis road bed and part of the Baltimore-Northern rout of the PRR.  The Blue line of the LA system is essentially the old Watts and Long Beach route of Pacific Electric.  Hudson and Bergen County in New Jersey uses parts of old West Shore and Jersey Central road beds.  Street running and the Smithfield Street old route of Pittsburgh Light Rail was abandoned in favor of the old PRR "Pan Handle" bridge and a new subway.  Part of Portland's MAX light rail is on old Oregon Eletric interurban right-of-way.  Then most downtown new streetcar lines are on streets that once had streetcars.  The Howard Street route in Baltimore that connects the ex-PRR roadbed on the north with the ex-B&A-WB&A roadbed on the south once had its own streetcar line.  I remember them tearing up the tracks in 1949 and saw them putting down the tracks in 1974 or 1976.  Others can surely add other examples.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, July 02, 2017 2:59 PM

Then there are museum operations.  Some took over directly from opersting railroads and transit companies, some repaired abandoned track, and some put donw new track on abandoned roadbeds.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, July 02, 2017 9:18 PM

daveklepper

Then there are museum operations.  Some took over directly from opersting railroads and transit companies, some repaired abandoned track, and some put donw new track on abandoned roadbeds.

 

A prime example would be the Georgetown Loop railroad that not only relaid about 4 miles of NG track, but also rebuilt a 100' high steel bridge.  The Colorado historical group also had to convince the highway builders to move the planned alignment of I-70 off the old C&S ROW, and up the mountanside.

Further down I-70, D&RGW moved their mainline between Glenwood Springs and Newcastle, over to the abandoned Colorado Midland ROW to accomodate the new interstate highway construction.

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Posted by tk48 on Sunday, July 02, 2017 11:02 PM

So how are these discontinued routes taxed by local jurisdictions? Railroads don't like to pay property taxes on non performing assets.

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Posted by Los Angeles Rams Guy on Monday, July 03, 2017 8:39 PM

This is going back more than thirty years ago but it may be one of the better examples out there.  Back in 1980 when the bankrupt Milwaukee Road embargoed a large portion of their system in the trustee's efforts to slim down to a "core system", one of the segments that got embargoed (and had an application in for abandonment) was the mainline along the Mississippi River from La Crescent (actually IM&D Junction just south of there) and the north yard limits at Marquette.  In the short period that followed, MILW was rerouting its St. Paul - Kansas City trains via Milwaukee and Chicago - obviously a VERY long way around. The auto business from Ford began to spike in late 1980 as did other traffic modes in this lane and an enlightened MILW announced in early 1981 that it was reopening the mainline from La Crescent to Marquette for its St. Paul - Kansas City trains.  The MILW spent a lot of money on new rail, ties and ballast as the mainline had really gone to hell in a handbasket in the late 70's and had things ready to go by August 1981.  Today, of course, this section is part of the CPRS' busy Marquette Sub that can see anywhere from 5-8 trains a day.  

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 9:52 AM

1 mile in Adams MA to be used on Hoosic Scenic Railway next to bike trail former Guilford line

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 1:42 PM

Some isolated tourist operations are non-profit and have special dispensation regarding real-estate taxes, from low to none at all, seeing the benefit to the local economy.  Regarding tracks such as Saluda and Tennesse Pass, I asume taxes are still being paid, despite the lack of use.

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 5:55 PM

tk48

So how are these discontinued routes taxed by local jurisdictions? Railroads don't like to pay property taxes on non performing assets.

 

Railroads do pay taxes (slightly less, but not much) for embargoed lines and discontinued (by STB rules) lines. You had best define how the rail-trail was created (NITU or CITU status) and who owns it. The owner of an abandoned line, if it is a public or quasi public agency does not pay taxes. If it's a rail corridor owned by a non-public agency (some trail groups are) and it's got NITU/CITU status, it's taxed as a railroad BECAUSE IT STILL IS ONE. Abandoned line with out an NITU/CITU or Section 934 roadway status becomes just another piece of taxable real estate.

Then again, showing up in the newswire soon, will be the beyond rediculous issue playing out between the Granola Bowl Republic Tax man and the LA Basin commuter agencies (LACMTA/LACTC/SCRRA MetroJoke et al.) in FD-36112. CA is desperately trying to squeeze taxes out of any rock/turnip they see to sustain their failed rose-colored glasses system.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by schlimm on Thursday, July 06, 2017 7:54 AM

How much property tax does either the UP or BNSF actually pay, as opposed to deferring?

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Thursday, July 06, 2017 10:34 AM

I am surprised that no one has mentioned KCS's ex-SP/UP line in Texas, which they spent a fortune to rebuild from nothing to mainline standard about 10 years ago, to better connect to their Mexican lines.

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Posted by Buslist on Thursday, July 06, 2017 12:31 PM

schlimm

How much property tax does either the UP or BNSF actually pay, as opposed to deferring?

 

don't know how much they pay but the UP has a job position devoted to the task.

 

Description

 

 

  • Oversee the property tax payment process. Depending on experience, the position may also assume property tax compliance responsibilities (e.g. prepare returns, analyze property assessments and appeal property overvalued).

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Posted by IslandMan on Saturday, July 08, 2017 6:44 AM

daveklepper

Many if not most of the modern light rail sysems use in part the roadbed of an abandoned or even still functioning railroad line or a roadbed of an abandoned interurban line.  The Baltimore light rail system used much of the Baltimore and Anapolis road bed and part of the Baltimore-Northern rout of the PRR.  The Blue line of the LA system is essentially the old Watts and Long Beach route of Pacific Electric.  Hudson and Bergen County in New Jersey uses parts of old West Shore and Jersey Central road beds.  Street running and the Smithfield Street old route of Pittsburgh Light Rail was abandoned in favor of the old PRR "Pan Handle" bridge and a new subway.  Part of Portland's MAX light rail is on old Oregon Eletric interurban right-of-way.  Then most downtown new streetcar lines are on streets that once had streetcars.  The Howard Street route in Baltimore that connects the ex-PRR roadbed on the north with the ex-B&A-WB&A roadbed on the south once had its own streetcar line.  I remember them tearing up the tracks in 1949 and saw them putting down the tracks in 1974 or 1976.  Others can surely add other examples.

 

 

I wonder if the Cincinnati Subway tunnels will ever be used for rail?  I believe that use for light rail has been proposed in recent years.  If this went ahead, the Cincinnati Subway would surely rank as the longest-running rail construction project in history (100 years so far).

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