Apr 1, 2009
I'm hoping that this day comes around. I love working with that little mike.
Yes, you and me both Tim.
(Relevant to the headline claim by the shippers, note particularly CORP's statement against that claim in the final sentence of the article.)
Shippers say rail traffic up
by John Sowell, The News-Review (Roseburg, OR)
Shippers on the Siskiyou Pass rail line between Dillard and Black Butte, Calif., dispute that lower rail traffic led to a cutback in service by Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, according to a new filing with the federal Surface Transportation Board.
Roseburg Forest Products and Timber Products Co. of Yreka, Calif., claim rail traffic over the 218-mile line increased by 22 percent in the 11 months before service was cut back in December 2007 from five or six days per week to two, compared with the same months between January and November 2006.
"CORP is thus shown to have radically curtailed rail service at a time when the demand for such service was decidedly on the upswing That confirms what petitioners have consistently alleged -- that there was no legitimate transportation-related reason for CORP's substantial reduction of rail service," Fritz Kahn and Thomas McFarland, attorneys for the shippers and the Yreka Western Railroad Co., wrote in the filing submitted Monday.
Earlier this month, railroad lawyers Scott Williams and Louis Gitomer claimed that CORP cut back service in response to a decrease in rail traffic from Northern California to Oregon.
"As the traffic declined and the number of cars per train decreased, for the sake of efficiency, CORP determined to operate fewer trains to retain the density generated by longer trains," Williams and Gitomer wrote in an April 10 filing.
The shippers have asked the three-member Surface Transportation Board, based in Washington, D.C., to allow Yreka Western to take over operation of the Siskiyou line. They have accused the railroad of deliberately downgraded service on the line by limiting service and raising rates.
CORP has accused the shippers of taking the disagreement over the adequacy of service over the line and turning it into a rate dispute. It said it's willing to provide service over the Siskiyou Mountains, but only if it received a fair price.
The railroad asked the STB to reject the shippers' request. In a separate filing, CORP said the shippers had not proven that overall rail traffic over the line had increased, only as it pertained to the two companies.
Now *that*, is very interesting ... indeed! Thanks Matt.
Matt and Bill, here's another version that was in this morning's Medford Mail Tribune.
By Greg Stiles
The Coos Siskiyou Shippers Coalition thinks it's found the Achilles heel in RailAmerica's most recent Surface Transportation Board filing as the shippers battle to restore rail service over the Siskiyou Summit.
RailAmerica claims demand for rail service had dropped prior to announcing it would curtail operations between Weed, Calif., and Ashland in December 2007.
But the coalition found that demand for railcar use over the Siskiyou Summit rose throughout 2007.
Rail service from Northern California over the Siskiyou Summit stopped altogether last spring when the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, a RailAmerica unit, ceased operation between Weed, Calif., and Ashland. The shippers coalition filed an emergency service petition with the STB last September, asking another rail line to take over the route.
Since then, both sides have submitted arguments and counter-arguments to the board with no sign of resolution.
"All along those guys have just been saying stuff and it's been hard to counter it," Coos Siskiyou Shippers spokesman Bob Ragon said. "Fortunately, in their last filing, they said pricing is the reason we did it (filed the petition). The whole thing about an emergency service petition is that it has to be based on lack of service, not pricing. That's exactly our case. They'd say 'Oh no, it's pricing' and did everything they could to get STB to think it was pricing. We were startled to see that demand had gone up."
In its filing on April 10, CORP and RailAmerica stated they reduced service to the shippers beginning in late 2007 because the number of cars that needed to be hauled had dropped off. As a result, the rail line said it reduced service from five days to two days per week.
In the shippers' rebuttal, Roseburg Forest Products and Timber Products documented that car volume had increased through November 2007 and was 22.4 percent higher in an 11-month comparison over corresponding periods in 2006. Traffic in every month exceeded the corresponding period a year earlier.
While the shippers anticipated a quick decision by the STB last fall, there isn't any reason to expect quick action now.
One of three positions on the board is vacant and the Obama administration needs to appoint a third board member.
"At this point, we don't think a decision is going to come any sooner than two months," Ragon said.
Ragon said the supplementary brief is one more filing than normally allowed by the STB, but it is a special response detailing RailAmerica's error.
"We sincerely hope that the STB will allow it into the record," Ragon said, adding a similar supplemental filing was accepted when the Coos Line issue was decided last year. The STB ruled the Port of Coos Bay could acquire the line instead of letting it be abandoned.
The shippers coalition is seeking for the West Texas and Lubbock Railway to take over the Siskiyou Line.
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I thought so as well! We shall see where it goes from here....
No matter who says what, the whole point is the right of way is in terrible shape. The FRA and STB both agreed that the tunnels are unsafe, there are numerous washouts, the line is full of steep grades and horrendous curves...basically an operating man's nightmare. And oh by the way, it is going to cost a ton of money to repair the trackge and right of way to just 10 MPH track speed. Even if the Port obtains the line where is the muti million dollars to repair it? What railroad in their right mind could justify operation on such track for minmal profit or break even?
Folks, we are not talking about a tiny freight railrod with just a few carloadings or an excursion/dinner train type operation. We are talking about a lot of very expensive line to operate and maintain which will require personnel who are well experienced in handling tonnage trains over diificult terrain and who know how to fix track problems correctly. The same goes for the Siskiyou main over the mountains... a lot of expense for very little revenue much less profit.
About the only way I believe these lines can be repaired and operated is to obtain government financing for the whole thing and the current administation in Washigton has it's own problems with that little situation right now.
I have operated and managed shortlines and you haven't lived until you try to handle a train on bad track with the locomotive weaving back and forth trying to find "gauge" in order to stay on the rails ... it's not fun but it is expensive and not for the in-experienced railroader or fan.
My heart says I hope it happens because I like trains. My mind says it is probably a waste of money because "I have been there done that" and it often does not pay off.
Just a quick footnote to the previous post to prevent you from thinking I am the "grinch" who stole shortlines.
Tomorrow and Sunday I will be one of the engineers on a passenger excursion train we are operating on one of our railroads. Why? Because I like trains but only on railroads which turn a profit.
"Even if the Port obtains the line where is the muti million dollars to repair it?"
Refering to your earlier post, we are not discussing the Coos Bay Line. We are talking about the Sisikiyou Line between Black Butte and Ashland/Medford. However I do see where you are coming from. However the track appears to be in good shape on the Siskiyou Line. CORP I believe is still running hyrailers to check conditions.
I can see your point(s) Barry. I know what you mean as to running on rough trackage. I'm also aware it costs big bucks to operate any railroad. But my thoughts are ... I'm very sure the Shippers Coalition have given great thought in regard to costs vs revenue. I can't believe anyone would try and take operation of the Siskiyou Line if they did not believe they could make a decent profit doing it. It just would not make sense. Actually, the tunnels on the Siskiyou Line are in good shape now (I realize you were referring to the tunnels on the Coos Bay Line). Where are you located Barry? Are you local?
The CORP does still run locomotives over the Siskiyou summit for service / inspections. And Matt is correct about high-railers being seen on the rails as well. I believe they are required to inspect the rails before sending a loco north for inspection, and then return.
What I'm trying to figure out is why one publication lists the Yreka Western as the possible alternate operator, and another lists the WT&L. It's no secret that I'm partial to the YW, and I'd love to see that happen. It would be a boon for the railroad, the county and cities in this depressed area. So I pray it will happen. And on the selfish side ... IF that happens, maybe I could do a little hogg'in again, myself.
Long live the Yreka Western!
Lori and I followed the old Pacific Highway last Tuesday to shoot the Steinman and Dollarhide overpass areas. We'd come across some ancient O&C/CP/SP RoW blueprints that I wanted to compare to current geography. I noticed ties and materials at both locations - looked to me like recent maintenance. Also, the rails were shiny, like there'd been traffic over them recently. Visiting Tunnel 13 back in October, other than a little water dripping from the ceiling, it also looked to be in good shape - and supporting recent traffic. Yeah, I'm thoroughly baffled by the 'politics,' but it looks to me like all we need is trains!
Long Live The Yreka Westen!
Ditto from me!!!!
More of the same stuff, but the most recent article on the situation.....
Siskiyou shippers try to add evidence
By David Smith
Siskiyou Daily News
Mon Apr 27, 2009, 09:16 AM PDT
Siskiyou County, Calif. -
More filings will have to be considered in the Siskiyou rail line case before the Surface Transportation Board (STB), as the shippers on the line have filed a surrebuttal in the hopes that the board will consider the information before making a final decision on whether or not it will require Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) to allow alternative rail service on the line.
The surrebuttal, filed by Roseburg Forest Products (RFP), Timber Products (TPC), Suburban Propane, Cowley D&L, Sousa AG Service and Yreka Western Railroad, attempts to address CORP’s claim that it curtailed rail service in response to the shippers’ decline in traffic volume.
CORP, the rail provider on the line, made its claim in a supplemental statement filed with the STB on March 31, and the shippers aim in their surrebuttal to provide traffic data “to ensure that the record is accurate on that important subject matter.”
The shippers provide with the surrebuttal a table showing the carloads tendered by RFP and TPC during 2006 and 2007, which they state shows that “traffic in every month between January and November 2007 exceeded traffic in every corresponding month of 2006,” giving the corresponding percentage of higher traffic volume for each month leading up to the curtailment of service.
“In summary, CORP’s service curtailment announced in December, 2007 could not have been undertaken in response to a decline in Petitioners’ traffic volume because Petitioners’ traffic in every month between January and November, 2007 exceeded corresponding traffic between January and November, 2006,” the shippers state. “CORP is thus shown to have radically curtailed rail service at a time when the demand for such service was decidedly on the upswing.
“That confirms what Petitioners have consistently alleged: that there was no legitimate transportation-related reason for CORP’s substantial reduction of rail service.”
CORP’s response, filed soon after, moves to strike the evidence from the record, due to what it claims is a “violation of 49 C.F.R. §1104.13(c), as a violation of the Board’s decision, as unreliable under 49 C.F.R. §1114.1, and as an attempt to untimely supplement the Petition filed by Petitioners on August 26, 2008.”
CORP then lists four reasons why it believes that the surrebuttal should be rejected: “The Surrebuttal is an impermissible reply-to-reply; The surrebuttal violates the schedule ordered by the Board; The surrebuttal is unreliable; and The surrebuttal is an attempt to untimely supplement the Petition.”
CORP claims that the surrebuttal is unreliable because it only addresses RFP and TPC’s traffic and “it is unclear whether the traffic is north bound or south bound over the Siskiyou Pass, since the traffic in issue in this proceeding is the north bound traffic.”
CORP also justifies its claim that the surrebuttal is an attempt to untimely supplement the petition by stating that the information should have been presented in the original petition or in the supplemental statement provided by the shippers.
CORP states, “Under the Board’s schedule, the Petitioners were not entitled to the last word, but seek to have the last word through the surrebuttal.”
Both CORP and the shippers await a decision by the board on the original petition for alternative rail service on the line, which may or may not include consideration of the surrebuttal evidence.
Thanks Matt. I'll probably get this in the paper tonight (mail and a day late each issue).
I disagree with the claim the CORP makes about the issue is only about northbound freight. It seems to me there was considerable freight, including logs for RFP that were moving over the Siskiyous, southbound before they stopped service. What the heck difference does it make what direction the train is going, anyway??
I hope someone will take note of that before the STB makes their decision.
I hate all this legal posturing and mumbo-jumbo!