Otto Vondrak wrote:
Cascade Northern wrote:That is true, but what I don't understand is that if the trail is turned into a least a light rail passenger line, then more people would ride on the railroad and thus less cars on the road and thus less fuel usage and emissions. So wouldn't having at least light rail actually benefit the environment.....
Yes, but unfortunately the process to build a new railroad, even where one existed before, is extremely difficult, thanks to an extensive review and permit process that makes it almost financially impossible.
In at least one case, where it is tied to reactivation of a fully-abandoned line, the STB isn't sure if reactivation of a railbanked line requires an EIS: http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readin ... enDocument
STB wrote:RJCP argues that reactivation of the rail banked Eastern Segment does not require Board approval under 49 U.S.C. 10901 (or an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502) and that therefore, the Board should not perform an environmental review of that segment of the proposed rail line. At this time, the Board has not decided whether reactivation of the Eastern Segment requires Board authority.
STB approval is not required to reactivate a line, even if fully abandoned (not railbanked), that parallels another owned by the same company: http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readin ... enDocument
STB wrote:UP contends that this project does not fall within the Board's licensing jurisdiction under 49 U.S.C. 10901 as an extension or additional railroad line, because the reactivated line will not invade or penetrate new territory. Rather, by adding what is in effect a second mainline (or "double track") that is roughly parallel to the existing mainline, the project will simply add capacity and enhance the efficiency of UP's current operations, improvements that, the carrier claims, do not require the Board's authorization.
After reviewing UP's petition, subsequent comments, and the carrier's reply, we agree. We find that we do not have section 10901 jurisdiction over this project, and that UP may proceed with the rehabilitation and reactivation of the line in question without Board approval.
I'm not sure exactly what, if any, authority reactivation of the fully-abandoned Staten Island Railway required (the connection to the Chemical Coast Secondary required none since it did not "invade or penetrate new territory"), but the state ownership may have allowed for a "modified certificate of public convenience and necessity": http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readin ... enDocument
STB wrote:The rail lines qualify for a modified certificate of public convenience and necessity. See Common Carrier Status of States, State Agencies and Instrumentalities and Political Subdivisions, Finance Docket No. 28990F (ICC served July 16, 1981).
When the Morristown and Erie Railway reactivated the fully-abandoned Rahway Valley Railroad, it too received a "modified certificate of public convenience and necessity". It was not required to go through an environmental review process: http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readin ... enDocument
STB wrote: For requests to operate an existing rail line pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10901, the Board prepares an Environmental Assessment if the operation will result in operational changes that exceed certain thresholds. See 49 CFR 1105.6(b)(4), (c)(2)(i). The Board generally does not undertake a case-specific environmental review in such cases if the operational changes would fall below the threshold at 49 CFR 1105.7(e)(5)(A): an increase of at least eight trains a day on the rail line (or three trains a day in a “nonattainment area” under the Clean Air Act), or an increase of 100 percent over the existing rail traffic level.
So reactivation of a line, whether railbanked or fully abandoned, does not appear to need a long process unless it will see at least 3-8 trains per day, or will otherwise have "the potential to result in significant environmental impacts" (see RJCP; there may be bridges or grades that need rebuilding). Even if that threshold is crossed, we saw with the recent EJ&E case that the STB looks at overall impacts, and is likely to approve a high-traffic reactivation that will take trucks off the road.