Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby ricebrianrice » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:36 am

First, I am a big supporter of the railroad, I have ridden it with my family in both Phoenicia, and Kingston.
I was at one time a volunteer also.

But....
30+ years ago CMRR blew their opportunity with this rail line. If they had been running trains from Kingston to Highmount, from the 80's till now, none of this would have ever happened.
They proved in the last years that it could have been done.

Since large sections of the line were not used, everyone "assumed" it was abandoned, so the county leaders of today grew up with an "abandoned" rail line. Those of us with some rail knowledge knew differently, but we are a small group of people.

This lawsuit is very interesting, and I look forward to the STB's answer, but None of this is going to change that fact that Ulster County controls (owns) the corridor, the current leadership is not interested in a railroad, and rails have been removed. Those rails will never be put back, even if the STB rules against them.

My question is, What happens to the operating sections of the line if the line was declared abandoned back in the 70's?
If the property did revert back, The section around the reservoir would go to the city, and can still be come a trail, and the rest is lost forever.
I hope that they did not doom the entire corridor, by filing this lawsuit.

Again, I support CMRR and wish them all the best.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby BandA » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:31 pm

The county wants it abandoned and not abandoned at the same time. If it wasn't abandoned & they have a willing operator they would have to lease it to them I think? County would continue to play games. Too bad the County Executive for Life hasn't run for another office.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby airman00 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:51 pm

Well I for one think this U&D Railway Revitalization Corporation has a strong case! For what it’s worth, Ulster County has been very cavalier throughout this whole ordeal, almost as if the rules don’t apply to them. I think it might just come back to bite them in the butt.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby BandA » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:14 am

I agree, it is a strong case! I'm assuming there is no injunction and that the county's contractor is continuing to rip up track. It would be funny if the STB required the county to restore the removed track! Or they might require them to restore any portion ripped up after the notice was filed. The whole thing is complicated by the fact that CMRR doesn't have a lease right now to much of the ROW. A good result would be if they have to cancel the rail removal in the reservoir and have to put the remaining portion of the line out to bid. What happens to the OOS portions and the washed-out portions? CMRR proved that the tracks up to the dike were in good enough condition to run a full-size train, and pretty much the whole corridor was brush cut.

If the STB comes back with a decent recommendation, perhaps some county commissioners or state DOT or public groups could create a better result. People contributed money, and the county paid good money in the 1970s to preserve a rail corridor, not a bike/walking path. Railroads shouldn't be "kicked when they are down", especially when they are rising up from the mat.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby BandA » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:15 am

Oh, and if the line was abandoned in the 1970s, NYC can cancel their agreement for the rail-trail and stop payment on any further checks to the county.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby cjvrr » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:09 pm

The STB is not going to rule in favor of restoring the track. Any owner can remove track from their railroad. That doesn't automatically trigger abandonment or reversion rights of the property.

As to the abandonment papers. At the time of Conrail's formation lines were being abandoned left and right and an expedited process was permitted. This has left a lot of holes in the records. However the document produced by Ulster County is interesting. If the line was abandoned, how was it allowed to run as a railroad.

In my opinion I believe the STB will rule in favor of the County. The revitalization group is not a business owner, shipper, or potential shipper on the line. Very much reminds me of Mr. Riffin's various attempts to take over long un-used railroad lines.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby lvrr325 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 1:43 am

If they rule it's abandoned, then the county owns nothing.

If they rule it's not abandoned, then they have to abandon it formally to remove the track.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:10 pm

ricebrianrice wrote:30+ years ago CMRR blew their opportunity with this rail line. If they had been running trains from Kingston to Highmount, from the 80's till now, none of this would have ever happened...


If by "blew their opportunity," you mean, "dealing with 30 years of obstructionist politics that CMRR had no control over?"

Stop the finger-pointing and examine the facts.

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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:17 pm

cjvrr wrote:In my opinion I believe the STB will rule in favor of the County. The revitalization group is not a business owner, shipper, or potential shipper on the line. Very much reminds me of Mr. Riffin's various attempts to take over long un-used railroad lines.


Respectfully, the STB has no reason to rule in favor of the County. You don't have to be a business owner, shipper, or railroad operator to file for declaratory relief. This is a routine filing that many individuals make with the STB as a precursor to further litigation regarding railroad rights of way and potential operation.

The legal definition: "Declaratory relief refers to a judgment of a court which determines the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages. By seeking a declaratory judgment, the party making the request is seeking for an official declaration of the status of a matter in controversy."

The U&D group is asking for a ruling, and the STB will be very much involved because no matter the legal status of the corridor (abandoned in 1979 or about to be abandoned in 2018), the county apparently did not follow required procedure of law.

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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Feb 05, 2018 4:08 pm

This line was officially abandoned for freight service in 1976. The switch was spiked OOS almost immediately and was removed sometime during the period that I was running freight trains on the River Line (1976-1982). The county apparently bought the property from the Penn Central estate because Conrail never owned this line. It was not designated to be operated nor owned by Conrail by the USRA Final System Plan. Unfortunately New York State has not had a history of supporting the preservation of this and other railroad lines that were not needed for operation. As a result you have abandoned railroads all over New York State. Again at this point New York State has not been too supportive of efforts to preserve these old wonderful lines. Adirondack, Catskill and probably others as well are suffering as a result of lack of real suport from the state. I guess the state does not realize how much these operations can accomplish. You only need to go next door to Connecticut to witness Essex or Thomaston to see what state ownership and realistic state support can and does accomplish. While Catskill and Adirondack might not be candidates for resumption of freight operations that is no reason to just rip up the tracks and forget about the railroad. Railroad museum and tourist type operations have had good state and local support all over the US, it is too bad New York State does not follow suit here.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby airman00 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:55 pm

According to the U&D group Facebook page, there is news! It appears that ulster county asked for an exstenion of time (30 days) to answer the petition and the STB gave them till February 23rd? to answer. The county claims they need time to answer the petition because the questions and documents in question are all things that happened 40 years ago. Sounds like they need time to dig up what they need, or claim they already have? Check their Facebook page for more information, I am relaying this second hand from what I read.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby RussNelson » Mon Feb 05, 2018 10:56 pm

lvrr325 wrote:If they rule it's abandoned, then the county owns nothing.

If they rule it's not abandoned, then they have to abandon it formally to remove the track.


I haven't done the research to say definitively, but it's possible that the U&D had a mix of in-fee-simple land and easement land. For sure the county doesn't own any easement land, and probably doesn't have the right to operate anything but a railroad on it. I've heard nothing about them railbanking anything. It looks like they thought they owned the entire ROW outright, it was abandoned, and were allowing the CMRR to operate on it solely under authority of their ownership.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby lvrr325 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:50 am

Noel Weaver wrote:This line was officially abandoned for freight service in 1976. The switch was spiked OOS almost immediately and was removed sometime during the period that I was running freight trains on the River Line (1976-1982). The county apparently bought the property from the Penn Central estate because Conrail never owned this line. It was not designated to be operated nor owned by Conrail by the USRA Final System Plan.
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Some corrections... It was run under Conrail, as a subsidy line, for about six months, easily verified several sources; last train October 2 '76 with a PC GP38 as power. County bought the line from PC Estate 1979. Some conflict on the switch at Kingston but one was in place from 1986 through 1996; engine 401 and some other things came on their own wheels through the switch. Some freight service was operated in the 1980s in Kingston. How does an abandoned railroad have freight service?

As for official abandonment, that's what this conflict is all about. Until someone produces an official record from the ICC/FRA showing it was abandoned, it was not abandoned by law. Further, if it is abandoned, it would affect who owns portions of the property.

One interesting thing; most resources indicate the county purchased the line to preserve the corridor for rail use. It might be worthwhile to dig up official period documents to confirm this, as they'd seem to contradict the abandonment, along with the initial lease to CMR. Not operating a line is not the same as abandoning it - in fact the very end of the line after 1965, Stamford, saw little to no traffic but remained part of the line sold by the PC estate.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby airman00 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:32 am

If I remember correctly from past years of this thread, wasn’t the switch removed, and then put back into place, and then later on ultimately removed for good? And the “current” end of track, where it appears the switch was, is not where the switch was previously? I seem to remember it being said that this current end of track is not the original placement of the switch.
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Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) Discussion - 2018

Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:51 pm

airman00 wrote:If I remember correctly from past years of this thread, wasn’t the switch removed, and then put back into place, and then later on ultimately removed for good? And the “current” end of track, where it appears the switch was, is not where the switch was previously? I seem to remember it being said that this current end of track is not the original placement of the switch.


My understanding is the Catskill Mountain Branch was taken out of service (NOT ABANDONED) and the switch spiked shut following the last subsidized Conrail train in 1976. That switch got unspiked sometime after 1982 since CMRR had established a freight customer in Kingston, plus was receiving equipment by rail. Conrail removed the switch in 1996 because payments had not been kept up on maintenance (somehow CMRR never got the invoice).

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