[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 237 (Friday, December 8, 2000)]
[Pages 77071-77072]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-30944]



Surface Transportation Board

[STB Docket No. AB-55 (Sub-No. 584X)]

CSX Transportation, Inc.--Discontinuance Exemption--in Hudson 
County, NJ \1\

    \1\ The petition is related to two abandonment applications 
filed on November 14, 2000, by Conrail under section 308 of the 
Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973 (3-R Act), 45 U.S.C. 748, a 
provision added to the 3-R Act by the Northeast Rail Service Act of 
1981 (Pub. L. No. 97-35). See Conrail-Abandonment of the Weehawken 
Branch--in Hudson County, NJ, STB Docket No. AB-167 (Sub-No. 766N); 
and Conrail--Abandonment of the River Line--in Hudson County, NJ, 
STB Docket No. AB-167 (Sub-No. 1067N). Conrail has requested that 
the applications be considered together because the Weehawken Branch 
and the River Line are operated as a single line due to changes made 
to track alignment and operations. Where appropriate, the two lines 
will be referenced as the River Line.
    Notices of Insufficient Revenues were timely filed on October 
31, 1983, and October 31, 1985, respectively. The Board must grant 
the applications within 90 days after their filing date (i.e., by 
February 12, 2001) unless offers of financial assistance (OFA) are 
filed within the 90-day period. See sections 308(c) and (d).

    On November 20, 2000, CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT), filed with 
the Surface Transportation Board (Board) a petition under 49 U.S.C. 
10502 for exemption from 49 U.S.C. 10903 to discontinue service over 
approximately 3.84 miles of the Weehawken Branch \2\ and approximately 
6.95 miles of the River Line \3\ in Hudson County, NJ. The

[[Page 77072]]

lines traverse U.S. Postal Zip Codes 07302, 07303, 07306, 07407, and 

    \2\ The 3.84-mile segment extends from the point of switch in 
Jersey City (approximately MP 0.00), to the southerly R.O.W. line of 
Baldwin Avenue, in Weehawken (approximately MP 2.84), and includes 
the former DL&W Railroad Lead to the Hoboken Freight Yard in Jersey 
    \3\ The 6.95-mile segment is divided into in two parts: (1) from 
the connection to the Passaic and Harismus Branch at CP ``Waldo'' in 
Jersey City (approximately MP 0.00) to the south side of Clifton 
Road in Weehawken (approximately MP 4.7), including the River Yard; 
and (2) from (a) the south side of Clifton Road in Weehawken 
(approximately MP 0.00) to the northwest side of Tonnelle Avenue 
(excluding the portion of line, associated track, and underlying 
right-of-way necessary to retain access and continue service to 
Durkee Foods) in North Bergen (approximately MP 1.53); (b) the 
National Docks Secondary in Jersey City from its connection with the 
River Line at CP ``Nave'' to the east side of Newark Avenue 
(approximately 1,350 feet); and (c) the Weehawken Branch (Chicken 
Yard) in Weehawken, from its connection with the River Line on the 
east side of Willow Avenue to the end of the track (approximately 
2,450 feet).

    CSXT acquired the right to operate over these lines under the North 
Jersey Shared Assets Areas Operating Agreement approved by the Board in 
CSX Corp.--Control and Operating Leases/Agreements--Conrail Inc., STB 
Finance Docket No. 33388 (Decision No. 89) (STB served July 23, 1998), 
clarified and modified (Decision No. 96) (STB served Oct. 19, 1998), 
petitions for review pending sub nom. Erie Niagara Rail Steering 
Committee v. STB, Nos. 98-4285, et al. (2d Cir. filed July 31, 
1998).\4\ Pursuant to that agreement, CSXT does not conduct freight 
operations over the River Line. CSXT publishes rates and maintains 
stations for the River Line's shippers,\5\ and Conrail conducts the 
actual train operations in CSXT's name.

    \4\ Norfolk Southern Railway Company also acquired the same 
rights with respect to the River Line and filed a similar petition 
for exemption on November 14, 2000. See Norfolk Southern Railway 
Company--Discontinuance Exemption--in Hudson County, NJ, STB Docket 
No. AB-290 (Sub-No. 212X).
    \5\ Two shippers, Cognis Chemical Company and Dykes Lumber 
Company, are being served.

    The lines do not contain federally granted rights-of-way. A large 
part of the real estate and track is owned by the New Jersey Transit 
Corporation (NJT), and the remainder is owned by Conrail.\6\ Any 
documentation in CSXT's possession will be made available promptly to 
those requesting it.

    \6\ The River Line's real estate and track was transferred to 
NJT on or about October 24, 1995, pursuant to the Freight Relocation 
and River Line Acquisition Agreement that Conrail and NJT entered 
into on June 8, 1989. Conrail retained a free and exclusive easement 
for the operation and maintenance of rail freight service.
    NJT will reconstruct the River Line and dedicate it to light 
rail commuter passenger service. The River Line's freight operations 
will be transferred to Conrail's Northern Branch, which will be 
reconstructed to accommodate through train service and to remove 
``at-grade'' highway and street crossings. Conrail will not 
terminate freight operations or consummate the abandonment of the 
River Line, and CSXT will not exercise the discontinuance authority, 
until the Northern Branch has been reconstructed.

    The interest of railroad employees will be protected by the 
conditions set forth in Oregon Short Line R. Co.--Abandonment--Goshen, 
360 I.C.C. 91 (1979).
    By issuing this notice, the Board is instituting an exemption 
proceeding pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 10502(b). A final decision will be 
issued by March 9, 2001.\7\

    \7\ CSXT has requested that its petition for exemption be 
granted with an effective date of February 12, 2001, to coincide 
with the anticipated effectiveness of the two related Conrail 
abandonment applications. This request will be considered by the 
Board when the petition for exemption is addressed.

    Any OFA with respect to the lines should be filed in the pertinent 
Conrail application proceeding under section 308(d) of the 3-R Act and 
49 CFR 1152.27. Each OFA must be accompanied by a $1,000 filing fee. 
See 49 CFR 1002.2(f)(25).
    All filings in response to this notice must refer to STB Docket No. 
AB-55 (Sub-No. 584X) and must be sent to: (1) Surface Transportation 
Board, Office of the Secretary, Case Control Unit, 1925 K Street, NW., 
Washington, DC 20423-0001; and (2) Natalie Rosenberg, CSX 
Transportation, Inc., 500 Water Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Replies 
to the CSXT petition are due on or before December 28, 2000.
    Persons seeking further information concerning abandonment and 
discontinuance procedures may contact the Board's Office of Public 
Services at (202) 565-1592 or refer to the full abandonment or 
discontinuance regulations at 49 CFR part 1152.
    An environmental assessment (or impact statement) is normally made 
available in abandonment or discontinuance proceedings, but under 49 
CFR 1105.6(d), the Board may modify the environmental requirements in 
appropriate circumstances. The requirements are being modified here. 
CSXT has never conducted operations over the line apart from those 
Conrail conducted on CSXT's behalf. Granting a carrier authority to 
discontinue service it has never provided appears to have no 
environmental impact. The requirement that the carrier submit a report 
and that the Board prepare an analysis are therefore superfluous.
    Board decisions and notices are available on our website at http://www.stb.dot.gov.

    Decided: November 28, 2000.
    By the Board, David M. Konschnik, Director, Office of 
Vernon A. Williams,
[FR Doc. 00-30944 Filed 12-7-00; 8:45 am]