[Dont they have to bring the tracks up to all 40mph standards by 2009? Will the line revert back to NS at that time?]
I will have to check a copy of the lease I have acess to later in the week, but If I remember correctly it is a 20 year lease with an option for 10 more. As Chris mentioned, the maintenence standards are in there so that the NYSW will do what was intended at the time of the lease; a short line railroad has more federal and state money availible to it than the larger systems. What Walter may be able to get the state to pay for, NS may have had to do out of pocket. I do not see the line going back to NS for a long time, but as Chris also mentioned, contracts can be renegotiated at any time, and the current contract has clauses for either side to back out. Right now, it costs NYSW about the same amount of money to maintain Port to Binghamton as they where paying in Trackage Rights fees prior to leasing the line.
As for the signal system, it is not as easy as you would think to shut them down; FRA approval is needed to remove them and is hard to get these days for reasons mentioned in previous posts. The work going into them for the one train a day may not seem needed now, but 10 to 15 years from now , who knows how much traffic will be on this line. How many times have we seen lines be abandoned and then we all want them back 15 years down the road as the other routes cannot handle the increased traffic?
NYSW is putting a great deal of money into rebuilding the signal system, ( radio controlled CPs as opposed to the 504 code system and all line wire replaced by Harmon EC5) and by the end of 2007 it will be one of the most up to date ,state of the art systems even though it will still look the same to the casual observer.
NS had no interest in doing this when they had the line, and it did become a maintenence nightmare.[/quote]