|SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD DECISION DOCUMENT|
|NORTH SHORE RAILROAD COMPANY--ACQUISITION AND OPERATION EXEMPTION--PPL SUSQUEHANNA, LLC|
|Director Of Proceedings|
|DECISION DIRECTED PPL SUSQUEHANNA, LLC TO RESPOND TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS CONCERNING ITS ACQUISITION OF APPROXIMATELY 6 MILES OF RAIL LINE IN LUZERNE COUNTY, PA.|
| 17 KB|
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|Full Text of Decision|
41182 SERVICE DATE – APRIL 26, 2011
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD
Docket No. FD 35377
North Shore Railroad Company—Acquisition and Operation Exemption—ppl susquehanna, llc
Decided: April 25, 2011
On May 17,
2010, North Shore Railroad Company (North Shore), a Class III rail carrier,
filed a verified notice of exemption under 49 C.F.R. § 1150.41 to acquire a
rail operating easement over approximately 6 miles of rail line (the Line) in
Luzerne County, Pa., that PPL Susquehanna, LLC (PPLS), the owner, had acquired
from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT
). The operating easement extends from
the eastern terminus of North Shore’s existing rail line at M.P. 177.00 at
Berwick, Pa., to M.P. 171.00 at the PPLS nuclear power plant at Hicks Ferry,
Specifically, the Board directed
On August 13, 2010,
In Maine Dep’t of Transp.—Acquis. & Oper. Exemp.—Maine Cent. R.R., 8 I.C.C.2d 835 (1991) (State of Maine), and in more than 60 subsequent decisions, this agency has held that the sale of the physical assets of a rail line by a carrier to a state or other public agency does not constitute the sale of a railroad line within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. § 10901, if certain conditions are met. The required conditions are that the selling carrier must retain a permanent, exclusive freight rail operating easement, together with the common carrier obligation for the line, and that the terms of the sale must protect the carrier from undue interference with its ability to carry out its common carrier obligation to provide freight rail service.
In Anthony Macrie—Continuance in Control Exemption—N.J. Seashore Lines, Inc., FD 35296, (STB served Aug. 31, 2010) (Macrie), the Board recently addressed the regulatory consequences that arise when a noncarrier-owner leases an abandoned rail line to a rail carrier that seeks to operate the line in common carrier service. The Board found that the owner-lessor did not have an obligation to seek acquisition or operation authority from the Board for leasing the abandoned line to a rail carrier, and that the owner-lessor would not acquire a residual common carrier obligation as long as the lease terms did not allow it to exercise control over or interfere with the lessee’s ability to provide common carrier service. The Board emphasized that a rail carrier seeking a certificate or an exemption to operate a line leased from a noncarrier-owner should provide sufficient information and documentation for the Board to determine whether the owner-lessor can exert undue control over the lessee-carrier’s operations.
The transaction here has
similarities to State of
This action will not significantly affect either the quality of the human environment or the conservation of energy resources.
It is ordered:
1. North Shore is directed to serve a copy of
this decision on PPL Susquehanna, LLC, within 5 days of the service date of
this decision and to certify within 5 days of service that it has done so.
2. PPLS is directed to respond to the above questions concerning its acquisition of the Line within 30 days of the service date of this decision.
3. The publication of the notice and the effectiveness of the exemption will be continued in abeyance pending responses from the parties and further decision of the Board.
4. This decision is effective on its service date.
By the Board, Rachel D. Campbell, Director, Office of Proceedings.
 North Shore’s verified notice of exemption states that the Operating Easement extends from its existing line “at Berwick, Pennsylvania at M.P. 171.00 to M.P. 177.00 at the PPL Susquehanna, LLC Beach Haven, PA power plant,” and the map accompanying the notice places Beach Haven at a point midway between M.P. 171.00 and M.P. 177.00. In its Supplement at 3, North Shore repeats these mileposts but places the PPLS power plant at Hicks Ferry, the same location cited in Volume II of the Final System Plan (FSP) at pp. 471-74 (“Pennsylvania Power & Light is building two nuclear units at Hicks Ferry, 5 miles north of Berwick.”) See infra note 5.
 See Verified Notice of Exemption at 3 (“Since commencing operation of the rail line owned by the Joint Rail Authority in 1984, [North Shore] has provided contract rail service on the Subject Line when the line was owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and upon its subsequent conveyance by the Department to PPL Susquehanna, LLC.”).
 By decisions
served on June 23 and July 29, 2010,
 The FSP was formulated in the 1970s by the United States Railway Association. It designated which lines were to be retained in active service through transfer to Conrail, a government-created successor railroad to the various northeastern railroads in reorganization, and which lines would be allowed to be abandoned. The FSP was submitted to Congress on July 26, 1975, and was specifically approved in § 601(e) of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, Pub. L. No. 94-210, 90 Stat. 127. Lines not included in the FSP could be abandoned without a proceeding under 49 U.S.C. § 10903, formerly § 1(18) of the Interstate Commerce Act.
 See, e.g., S. Pac. Transp. Co.—Aban.