It appears you truly believe what the M&E folks told you personally at the meeting you attended. Some people on this forum however, don't share your views. They believe that absent an STB filing, the M&E can't get to Bound Brook.
Did you know that it is very possible for the M&E to get to Bound Brook Jct. without an STB filing? In fact, it may already be done
for all we know........
I thought I'd propose a little research project for you to do. I tried to start a search for the proper document trail, but quite frankly, I just don't have the time to finish it. (plus, some of the documentation doesn't exist in public filings, but it is still real and valid none the less, or it is contained in private agreements none of us will ever get the chance to see. Well, some of us, maybe
So, here is what I know, and where you need to take your research to in order to start to speak definitively on this subject.
In 1983, the newly reorganized M&E (the spent the late 70's in bankrupcty) took over the original M&E mainline. A year later, they became the operator of the Chester Branch. The Chester Branch was owned by Holland Manufacturing and Westinghouse (for that matter, they still do to this day). The Morristown and Erie got trackage rights over NJT from Morristown to Lake Jct.
But there was a catch, which few people realized at first. The M&E could only move work trains, light power, passenger cars and non revenue moves at first. I tried to find an ICC filing for the trackage rights. You know, I couldn't find one.
Why, you ask
. Well, the answer lies in the Northeast Rail Passenger Termination act of 1981-2(date?), the act that created today's NJT Rail Operations. I beleive a filing with the ICC didn't take place because the then contemplated transaction and operation between NJT and the M&E did not allow the M&E to conduct revenue freight
operations in support of or on the account of interstate commerce over an NJT owned property because of the exclusivety issue with Conrail. Remember NJT owns the Property, but Conrail remained the operator of all freight trains.
If you look at photos of the M&E trains of the early 80's running around on NJT, didn't they look more like work trains and passenger extras similiar to NJT's, rather than a true local wayfreight? Ever wonder why that was?
Also, in the early days, the M&E had two interchanges with Conrail. One at Morristown for the Whippany line, and the other at Lake Junction for the Chester Branch. If they had true trackage rights over the Morristown line, why not file them with the ICC?
Now some will jump up and scream that the M&E runs to and conducts all freight interchange at Lake Junction today. Today's M&E freight trains are true freight trains. Doesn't this mean that the M&E has trackage rights over NJT for freight operations now?
Well, I don't know. Why? Because try to find an ICC filing for overhead trackage rights on the Morristown line from Lake Junction to Morristown for the M&E. I couldn't find one. Maybe you can.
How could the M&E move freight then over the Morristown line without trackage rights?
Because they were given running rights outside the jurisdiction of the ICC for the conduct of interchange only.
The rights aren't memorialized in a true trackage rights agreement (which are today filed with the STB the successor to the ICC), but rather governed under the terms of a private interchange agreement between two carriers! An interchange agreement stipulates the who, what, where, when, why, and how
railroads give cars back and forth between each other.
The new interchange agreement
at Lake Junction eliminated the confusion of which M&E junction cars needed to be routed too. Cars bound for the Chester Branch would get sent to the M&E at Morristown and vise versa. The M&E was barred from moving a misrouted car on their own until the new agreement was put in place. The M&E and Conrail agreed to make the interchange at Lake Junction the sole point for both lines. This improved service on both lines and facilitated better coordination between the two carriers.
Why was this fascinating history lesson important to know? Well, because of the very next series of questions.
Could the M&E negotiate a private, non regulated, interchange agreement with Conrail that stipulates a point in Bound Brook as the interchange point for any freight headed to or from the reactivated SIRR-RVRR?
Answer: Yes they can.
Does it have to be filed with the STB?
No it doesn't, if its part of an interchange agreement.
(Railroads are usually left to determine their interchange arrangments on their own. Only when they can't reach an agreement will the STB step in and set terms. Then, and only then, will the terms become public knowledge.)
Does NJT have to be included in the agreement?
Yes they do.
Will it also require the approval of Conrail owners NS and CSX?
Yes it will.
Will we know when, or if the agreement is done?
No. However, when the first train rolls, you can safely assume the agreement is done
Knowing Trainlawyer will be really unhappy if there are M&E trains running on the Raritan line without an STB filing.