Re: Santa Cruz Branch Line - Railbanking
Date: 10-09-2017 - 08:20
Railbanking is straightforward and would be uneventful in the case of Santa Cruz. I spoke several times with the staff attorney, Gabe (forgot last name), at the STB. It is an administrative 5 month process and usually approved IF all there is no opposition litigation. One key issue is whether Roaring Camp would be considered an "orphan" railroad, which would preclude railbanking. My impression is, tourist trains such as Roaring Camp do not carry much weight in the "orphan" area as it is intended for freight and heavy passenger trains. Another potential is an interested carrier - but in this case would pay market rate for use of corridor as opposed to a rent-free lease (or very small payment) enjoyed by Iowa Pacific. As to the litigation, this is Santa Cruz. There will be litigation against a $700M (over 30 yrs) commuter train for a variety of reasons and there will be litigation against taking up the tracks. I think the latter has less chance of prevailing as a delaying tactic. The former may be moot as a commuter train needs local money and there is opposition. In political terms, there is no chance for a 2/3 approval of a new tax measure if there is any organized opposition. The rest that everyone squawks about is bluster and a waste of time.