|SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD DECISION DOCUMENT|
|GRAINBELT CORPORATION--TRACKAGE RIGHTS EXEMPTION--BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY AND STILLWATER CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY|
|DECISION GRANTED A PETITION FOR PARTIAL REVOCATION OF A TRACKAGE RIGHTS CLASS EXEMPTION TO PERMIT GRAINBELT CORPORATION'S SUPPLEMENTAL TRACKAGE RIGHTS OVER CERTAIN LINES OF BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY AND STILLWATER CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY TO EXPIRE ON SPECIFIC DATES 10 YEARS FROM THE EXECUTION DATES PROVIDED IN THE PARTIES' SUPPLEMENTAL TRACKAGE RIGHTS AGREEMENTS. DISCONTINUANCE OF THE TRACKAGE RIGHTS OPERATIONS ARE SUBJECT TO STANDARD LABOR PROTECTIVE CONDITIONS.|
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|Full Text of Decision|
40440 SERVICE DATE – MARCH 12, 2010
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD
STB Finance Docket No. 35332 (Sub-No. 1)
GRAINBELT CORPORATION—TRACKAGE RIGHTS EXEMPTION—BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY AND STILLWATER CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY
Decided: March 8, 2010
By petition filed on December 1, 2009, Grainbelt Corporation (GNBC) requests that the Board partially revoke a class exemption to permit the supplemental trackage rights arrangements between grantee GNBC and grantors BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) and Stillwater Central Railroad Company (SLWC) exempted in Grainbelt Corporation—Trackage Rights Exemption—BNSF Railway Company and Stillwater Central Railroad Company, STB Finance Docket No. 35332 (STB served Dec. 17, 2009) and published in the Federal Register on December 21, 2009 (74 FR 67951-2), to expire 10 years from the execution dates provided in the parties’ supplemental trackage rights agreements.
notice of exemption, BNSF and SLWC each agreed to grant supplemental
trackage rights to GNBC, which together will allow GNBC to operate between
GNBC submits that, while the trackage rights are only temporary, because the rights include more than just overhead trackage rights and will remain in effect for more than one year, they do not qualify for the Board’s class exemption for temporary trackage rights at 49 CFR 1180.2(d)(8). GNBC adds that it is filing this petition, with the agreement of BNSF and SLWC, to enable the parties to realize the negotiated economic benefits of the supplemental rights and to allow expiration of those rights without the need for discontinuance authority at that time.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Trackage rights approved under the class exemption at 49 CFR 1180.2(d)(7) typically remain effective indefinitely, regardless of contractual provisions to the contrary. Occasionally, trackage rights exemptions have been granted for a limited time period rather than in perpetuity. See Union Pacific Railroad Company–Trackage Rights Exemption–The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, STB Finance Docket No. 34242 (Sub‑No. 1) (STB served Oct. 7, 2002).
Under 49 U.S.C. 10502, the Board may exempt a person, class of persons, or a transaction or service, in whole or in part, when it finds that: (1) continued regulation is not necessary to carry out the rail transportation policy of 49 U.S.C. 10101; and (2) either the transaction or service is of limited scope, or regulation is not necessary to protect shippers from the abuse of market power.
GNBC’s supplemental trackage rights have already been authorized under the class exemption at 49 CFR 1180.2(d)(7). See Railroad Consolidation Procedures, 1 I.C.C.2d 270 (1985). Granting partial revocation in these circumstances will promote the rail transportation policy by eliminating the need to file a second pleading seeking discontinuance when the agreements expire, thereby promoting rail transportation policy goals at 49 U.S.C. 10101(2), (4), (5), (7) and (15). Moreover, limiting the term of the trackage rights is consistent with the limited scope of the transaction previously exempted and will not result in an abuse of market power. Therefore, we will grant the petition and permit the supplemental trackage rights exempted in STB Finance Docket No. 35332 to expire 10 years from the execution dates provided in the parties’ supplemental trackage rights agreements.
In order to provide protection to any employee adversely affected by the discontinuance of trackage rights, we will impose the statutorily mandated employee protective conditions set forth in Oregon Short Line R. Co.–Abandonment–Goshen, 360 I.C.C. 91 (1979).
This action will not significantly affect either the quality of the human environment or the conservation of energy resources.
It is ordered:
1. The petition for partial revocation is granted.
2. Under 49 U.S.C. 10502, the transaction described in STB Finance Docket No. 35332 is exempted, as discussed above, to permit the BNSF supplemental trackage rights to expire on October 16, 2019, and the SLWC supplemental trackage rights to expire on November 1, 2019, subject to the statutorily mandated employee protective conditions set forth in Oregon Short Line R. Co.–Abandonment–Goshen, 360 I.C.C. 91 (1979).
3. Notice will be published in the Federal Register on March 12, 2010.
4. This decision is effective on April 11, 2010. Petitions to stay must be filed by March 22, 2010. Petitions for reconsideration must be filed by April 1, 2010.
By the Board, Chairman Elliott, Vice Chairman Mulvey, and Commissioner Nottingham.