Railtrails which reverted back into railways

General discussion related to Rail Trails nationwide, including proposed rail trail routes. The official site of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy can be found here: www.railstotrails.org.

Moderator: railtrailbiker

Postby NellsChoo » Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:11 pm

So while the odds of a trail turning back into an active line is slim, in some cases, it is still possible? I know around here you'd have to sacrifice your first born to get people to let their paths go, even though they could be put to better use by geting cars off the road during commuter times... which around here seems to be 24 hours a day...

But, as usual, I am in the minority with my opinions. I just feel a bike path does nothing to bring jobs and business. An active rail line could, both commuter or freight.

To each his (or her) own...

JD
It is still GUILFORD to me... http://www.newenglanddepot.net
User avatar
NellsChoo
 
Posts: 1240
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2004 3:52 pm
Location: Middlesex County, MA

Postby icgsteve » Sun Oct 14, 2007 6:56 pm

NellsChoo wrote:So while the odds of a trail turning back into an active line is slim, in some cases, it is still possible?
JD


That is the situation today. However the ground can and probably will at some point shift rapidly. All that is required is a change in the laws to completely change the landscape. Law is driven by politics. At some point national politics and a desire for national transit policy will probably override local politics and a desire by property owners to keep the rail lines shut down.

BTW-I have doubt id the desires of those who use the trails matter much. I have not seen a study of those who use the trails, but in my experience they tend to be young and politically disenfranchised. The voices of those who don't have political or economic power are ignored in America today, so the degree to which trail users are poor and non voters is the degree to which their desires are ignored. I believe that it is the property owners who are primarily responsible for keeping the trails in place, not those who use them.
icgsteve
 
Posts: 1286
Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:56 pm

Postby walt » Sun Oct 14, 2007 7:18 pm

icgsteve wrote:
NellsChoo wrote:So while the odds of a trail turning back into an active line is slim, in some cases, it is still possible?
JD


That is the situation today. However the ground can and probably will at some point shift rapidly. All that is required is a change in the laws to completely change the landscape. Law is driven by politics.


I doubt that a change in the laws is what is necessary here. The problem at this point is more political than legal. The most common legal challenge to this kind of effort would lie in the enviornmental arena with allegations being made that restoration of rail service would somehow adversely affect the enviornment. While these kinds of challenges will continue to be made, they can be met if the entity which makes an attempt to restore rail service to a trail meets the challenge by conducting whatever enviornmental study that would be required to refute whatever allegations are made. How the results of such a study are interpreted will largely be a product of the political climate, and it is in this area that we will need to see changes before we will see any significant restoration of rail service to present rail-trails.
Please Move to the Rear and Speed Your Ride
( Philadelphia Transportation Company)
walt
 
Posts: 1090
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 4:51 pm
Location: Columbia, MD

Postby icgsteve » Sun Oct 14, 2007 9:09 pm

walt wrote: I doubt that a change in the laws is what is necessary here. The problem at this point is more political than legal. The most common legal challenge to this kind of effort would lie in the enviornmental arena with allegations being made that restoration of rail service would somehow adversely affect the enviornment.


Tis the main problem. If the line was never legally abandoned then why must there be an environmental assessment? This is the main cost, and is the primary argument against restarting rail. It would be one step to make law that states that environmental challenge to restarting rail lines has no standing in the courts.
icgsteve
 
Posts: 1286
Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:56 pm

Postby walt » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:36 pm

icgsteve wrote:
walt wrote: I doubt that a change in the laws is what is necessary here. The problem at this point is more political than legal. The most common legal challenge to this kind of effort would lie in the enviornmental arena with allegations being made that restoration of rail service would somehow adversely affect the enviornment.


Tis the main problem. If the line was never legally abandoned then why must there be an environmental assessment? This is the main cost, and is the primary argument against restarting rail. It would be one step to make law that states that environmental challenge to restarting rail lines has no standing in the courts.


If the line was never legally abandoned, then it wouldn't be a trail, even if there were no trains using it. In most cases, in order to abandon service, some approval is necessary-- used to be ICC approval for interstate operations, and PUC approval for intrastate operations. Without that approval, a line could not be abandoned.
It would not be possible to pass any law that would eliminate access to the courts for enviornmental challenges, as long as those challeges are brought under some enviornmental statute. If an allegation that a statute is being violated is brought before the court, the court will have to deal with it. It is not consitutionally possible to have a valid statute in effect, but to prohibit the courts from enforcing that statute. That is what places this issue squarely in the political arena. The kind of laws that would have a greater effect would be "grandfather" clauses--- something to the effect that if a ROW was ever used as a railroad, restoration of rail service could be accomplished without any limitations which might otherwise be imposed under modern day enviornmental protection statutes. Again, passage of such a clause will require a shift in the present politicial climate.
Please Move to the Rear and Speed Your Ride
( Philadelphia Transportation Company)
walt
 
Posts: 1090
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 4:51 pm
Location: Columbia, MD

Postby RussNelson » Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:28 am

walt wrote: If the line was never legally abandoned, then it wouldn't be a trail, even if there were no trains using it.

Please, walt, you are using incorrect terminology. When a railroad is "abandoned", its right-of-way ceases to be a railroad right of way. If it was created through an easement, then control of the property reverts to the landowner from whose property the easement was created. Congress created the status of "railbanking" in 1983. It still requires governmental approval, but the right of way remains a railroad right of way, with railroad use having priority over any other use.

Railroads are almost never abandoned anymore. They are railbanked.
User avatar
RussNelson
 
Posts: 3791
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:20 am
Location: Potsdam, NY

Postby RussNelson » Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:38 am

People seem to be grumping about how the NIMBYs don't want to give up their trail. Just imagine where we would be WITHOUT railbanking and trails! Try rebuilding the Rutland Railroad -- it's got houses built on the ROW. Or the NYO&W. The Norwich yard is now the high school. There's tons of examples of ROWs lost because of no railbanking.

Don't complain about trails -- they're your friends, not your enemy.
User avatar
RussNelson
 
Posts: 3791
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:20 am
Location: Potsdam, NY

Postby pennsy » Tue Oct 16, 2007 9:39 am

Hi All,

Metrolink in Southern California took over what was left of the Pacific Electric ROW through the La Verne, San Dimas area on its way to Los Angeles, LAUS. The light rail, what was left of it, was replaced and all of what remained was upgraded to high speed ROW. Metrolink trains going through the area, where the old Pacific Electric ROW was, routinely go through at 79 mph. Pacific Electric was an old trolley line, used by the Big Red trolley cars and the Blimps.

Today's ROW is ribbon rail and mostly concrete ties. It also takes you down the center of the Interstate 10 Freeway into LAUS, at 79 mph. Makes the fellas stuck in traffic, bumper to bumper on the freeway, really happy, and has made getting a seat on the Metrolink trains, during rush hours, a problem.
pennsy
 
Posts: 1697
Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2006 4:07 pm
Location: Southern California

Postby Pacobell73 » Tue Oct 16, 2007 10:37 am

The most ill-conceived rail trail in recent memory was the southern extension of New Jersey's Henry Hudson trail. The old CNJ line between Freehold and Matawan ceased being used in phases, the lower portion in 1972, the upper in 1983. Rails remained in place, and the ROW was purchased by NJ Transit. NIMBYs wanted a trail, NJT wanted to reactivate the line for passenger service.

What is worse, the ROW runs through many rich, snobby neighborhoods, littered with new McMansions. See link below:

http://www.topix.com/city/middletown-nj/2007/09/juvenile-charged-in-assault-on-henry-hudson-trail

The tracks were ripped out, and the trail put in place. Unfortunately, scenery is dull, and the upper portion through Matawan is busy and dangerous, cutting through old industrial areas.

NJT still retains the right to convert the trail back into an active line. The good news is that the trail has only been completed in chunks. Some areas required extensive digging and funneling to put down a trail, so there are significant gaps along the trail.

Now that NJT has openely stated they are looking to reopen the line again, additional trail construction has ceased. That is the good news.

http://www.boblucky.com/Biking/NewJersey/Henry%20Hudson%20South/Freehold.htm
"A train running once a week is better than no train at all." - Me
User avatar
Pacobell73
 
Posts: 621
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 8:11 am
Location: Phoenixville, PA

Postby walt » Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:09 pm

RussNelson wrote:
walt wrote: If the line was never legally abandoned, then it wouldn't be a trail, even if there were no trains using it.

Please, walt, you are using incorrect terminology. When a railroad is "abandoned", its right-of-way ceases to be a railroad right of way. If it was created through an easement, then control of the property reverts to the landowner from whose property the easement was created. Congress created the status of "railbanking" in 1983. It still requires governmental approval, but the right of way remains a railroad right of way, with railroad use having priority over any other use.

Railroads are almost never abandoned anymore. They are railbanked.


In that case, the railroad was never legally "abandoned"-- it was railbanked. Under that 1983 law, reversion to rail use, in these cases, would not run into the obsticles that restoring rail service to actually abandoned ROW's are running into. The only ROW's that will revert to the "original" owners of the land are those acquired under the eminent domain process. In those cases, with actual legal abandonment, there would be no possibility of a return to rail, unless the owners of the reversion ( ie to whom ownership reverted upon abandonment) are willing to sell the land. A second use of eminent domain to re acquire the land is possible, but, in today's climate, probably not politically likely.
Please Move to the Rear and Speed Your Ride
( Philadelphia Transportation Company)
walt
 
Posts: 1090
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 4:51 pm
Location: Columbia, MD

Postby #7470 » Tue Oct 23, 2007 3:45 pm

You know, of you really wanted to conserve the ROW and keep it there for the possibility of future use, why not make it a track-car line so people can have fun with it. This way, we get no compaints from railfans and don't have to deal with the snobby rail-trail bikers who don't want to give it up.

I hate rails-to-trails...hate it.


Matt
User avatar
#7470
 
Posts: 547
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 10:19 pm

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:20 pm

----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
 
Posts: 20146
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Postby icgsteve » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:22 pm

icgsteve
 
Posts: 1286
Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:56 pm

Re: Do rail trails ever go back to being a RAILROAD?

Postby NE2 » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:27 am

Let's look at those, one by one.
Council Bluffs to Shenandoah: 350 feet. Feh. It's a "rail with trail" anyway.
Minster to St. Mary's: no actual trail use apparently
Carondelet Branch: 1100 feet, again a "rail with trail"
Sasser to Albany: doesn't look like this has been reactivated yet
2nd Subdivision: don't think this was an actual trail
Bisbee Branch and Douglas Branch: not reactivated yet
Charleston to Douglas: not reactivated yet

The best bet for reactivation seems to be a "rail with trail": http://home.comcast.net/~phyilla1/sstra ... rails.html
NE2
 
Posts: 280
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 8:24 pm

Re:

Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:27 pm

icgsteve wrote:HAve railbanked lines gone active? Yes.
http://www.americantrails.org/resources/railtrails/rerail04.html


Fighting tooth and nail all the way. Once you give these guys a trail ROW, forget it, they'll never give it back. They'll cry like babies that the mean old railroad trying to ruin the environment or some such nonsense...

Once the rails are gone... they're gone.
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
 
Posts: 20146
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

PreviousNext

Return to Rail Trails

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests