Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by Jeff Smith
https://dcms-external.s3.amazonaws.com/ ... /50658.pdf

STB Decision on MNRR's request for certain exemptions. Most are granted, or deemed unnecessary, save one:
Physical Condition of the Line. Metro-North seeks a waiver of 49 C.F.R. § 1152.22(b), which requires a description of the present physical condition of the line, including any operating restrictions and an estimate of deferred maintenance and rehabilitation costs. It notes that the Board has waived the requirement for a physical description of the line in cases when such information is not “particularly relevant.” (Pet. 6 (citing South Dakota, AB 1253, slip op. at 3-4).)
Housatonic objects to this request. It asserts that Metro-North has been in complete control of the property since 1995 and has been exclusively responsible for maintaining the property. (Reply 3.) Housatonic adds that the condition of the property is an important factor for the Board to consider in reviewing the application and is particularly relevant to Housatonic’s likely opposition. (Id.)
The Board will deny Metro-North’s request. Although the Board has granted waivers of this requirement in the past, here Housatonic alleges that the information “is particularly relevant to [its] likely opposition to the application.” (Reply 3.) Moreover, complying with this requirement should not be burdensome for Metro-North, which owns the Line and is responsible for maintaining the property. See Paulsboro Refining Co.—Adverse Aban.—Gloucester Cnty., N.J., AB 1095 (Sub-No. 1), slip op. at 4-5 (STB served July 26, 2012) (finding that the requirement would not be burdensome because the party seeking the waiver owned the line at issue).
Public Use and Trail Use. Metro-North seeks an exemption from the public use provision at 49 U.S.C. § 10905 and waiver of the interim trail use/rail banking regulations at 49 C.F.R. § 1152.29. (Pet. 7.) The Board has, in the past, denied such requests as unnecessary because public use and interim trail use requirements do not apply to an adverse discontinuance. See Ind. Bus. R.R.—Adverse Discontinuance of Rail Serv.—Portion of Norfolk S. Ry.’s Rockport Branch, AB 1044, slip op. at 4 (STB served Nov. 30, 2009). Consequently, these requests will be denied.
One-Year Authorization Limit for Notice of Consummation. Metro-North seeks waiver of 49 C.F.R. § 1152.29(e)(2). (Pet. 7.) This request is unnecessary because 49 C.F.R.
§ 1152.29(e)(2) does not apply to discontinuances. Consequently, this request will be denied as moot. See Port of Benton, Wash., AB 1270, slip op. at 6.
  by Jeff Smith
Yowza: https://dcms-external.s3.amazonaws.com/ ... 302222.pdf

265 page filing by MNRR, but the first few pages contain some eye openers. I'm perusing the rest, but here's some initial highlights:

Some interesting tidbits here:

"MNRR will construct turnouts for bonafide freight customers..." and "HRRC will not interfere with MNRR's actions"

But the big zinger: "on Feb 18, 2020, Metro-North provided HRRC with 120 days' notice..." ... "HRRC refused to seek discontinuance..."

Continued on next page:

"...authority from the STB unless Metro-North provides HRRC with a lump sum payment for upgrades to HRRC grade crossings in Connecticut."...

That's pretty damning.
  by Jeff Smith
I could not find any reference within to where trails will go (and they're already pretty much along the entire ROW).

Other salient points in the first 13 pages:

-Metro-North has found that commuter service on the Beacon Line is not feasible

Certainly not on the portion between Hopewell Junction and Dykeman's into Southeast. But what of other portions, i.e. the much-talked about Danbury to Southeast portion? Lesser talk of other type service from Fishkill into Beacon as well.

-Rehab costs are $75.5 million per MNRR's estimates.

That's the whole line; for the short portion to Dykeman's it would be a fraction of the cost.

That's the gist of it.

Assuming MNRR
  by Jeff Smith
Turnouts available at initial date of trackage rights agreement:
  by Jeff Smith
HRRC has acquisition option:
  by Jeff Smith
Further reads of some of the appendices:

Page 108: "Metro-North has no plans to salvage the existing track at this time"
Page 109: "...The rest of the Line, from Beacon, New York to Hopewell Junction, New York, ,is suitable for recreational trail use"

Clearly, they just want to be relieved of maintenance obligations, and are looking to allow the conversion of the Beacon secondary as a trail.

Page 119: an email from the EPA that unless demolition is to occur, "no comment at this time".

Some interesting maps starting at page 175.

That's pretty much it for the filing.
  by Jeff Smith

1. Looks like HRRC was, yes, holding out for a payoff to cooperate. They don't use the track, have no plans to do so, have never done so (perhaps one exception being a freight car from Millerton?). They wanted money for railroad crossings IN CONNECTICUT.
2. CtDOT has no intention of getting in the middle of this. They have to work with MNRR. If it ever comes to pass that they want to run service to Southeast, I'm sure they can buy the ROW in NY necessary to do so. CtDOT did NOT respond to my question on their opinion of the abandonment.
3. ^This is providing HRRC cooperates with CtDOT for their portion of the trackage in CT along the Maybrook.
4. If any passenger service is going to come to pass, HRRC will want to be paid for same, whether it's over the Maybrook or the Berkshire. And they may want to run it, which will not be welcomed by MNRR, who has the contract with CtDOT for branch and main line operations for trains connecting to New York.
5. The bad blood continues between HRRC and MNRR. We'll see how this impacts their relationship with CtDOT.
  by J.D. Lang
Thanks for keeping us posted on the filings. If MNRR wants to abandon but keep the rails in place from at least Dykeman's to the state line than CTDOT may still have a chance to buy it if they ever wanted to entertain service to SE. As far as HRRC is concerned if they want to try and extort money from CTDOT over a purchase they had better be careful about that. The state still owns the Berkshire from Boardman's Bridge to the state line in Canaan which I'm sure that HRRC pays little or no rent to the state to use that line. The state may want to take a hard look at that arrangement if HRRC wants money for a state purchase of that portion of the Maybrook.

Another reason the state missed a golden opportunity to buy the Danbury cluster when Conrail put it on the block.
  by Jeff Smith
I do think there's some horse trading to do here. I don't see HRRC wanting to sell their mileage on the Berkshire, and I don't blame them. I've posited on the HRRC thread that they may want to consider interchanging at the southern end for that trackage, either with P&W in Danbury, or soon, G&W at Derby (Derby would be expensive as they'd need to upgrade OOS portion).

The portion west, though, is of little to no use except as real estate. But they're not going to get a lot for it; they'll have to be realistic. Prying money out of MNNR's hands for overhead rights they don't use is one thing; they don't need to have a good relationship with MNRR, and MNRR has clearly given up on keeping any of the line for positioning moves. But with CtDOT, they need to maintain a working relationship, even if it's not friendly.
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