DesertXpress Enterprises, LLC-Petition for Declaratory Order
In response to a petition filed by DesertXpress Enterprises, LLC (DesertXpress), the Board is instituting a declaratory order proceeding under 5 U.S.C. 554(e) and 49 U.S.C. 721 to determine whether the Board's jurisdiction preempts state and local environmental review, land use restrictions, and other discretionary permitting requirements that might otherwise apply to DesertXpress' proposed construction of an interstate high speed passenger rail system between Victorville, CA, and Las Vegas, NV. No responses to the petition have been filed. The Board seeks public comment on this issue.
CSX Transportation, Inc., Norfolk Southern Railway Company, and Consolidated Rail Corporation-Joint Use and Operation Exemption
On August 8, 2006, CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT), Norfolk Southern Railway Company (NSR), and Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) (collectively, petitioners), jointly filed a petition for exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502 from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 11323-25 for petitioners to provide for the joint use and joint rail freight operations over 7.69 miles of abandoned rail line of the former Staten Island Railway Corporation \1\ in New York and New Jersey lying generally between the Conrail Chemical Coast Line and points on Staten Island, NY. The line consists of two segments as follows: (a) The North Shore Line between the end of track at milepost 4.6 at Union Avenue east of Arlington Yard, Richmond County, NY, and milepost 7.4, via the Chemical Coast Connector, at the proposed point of switch at the connection between the Chemical Coast Connector and Conrail's Chemical Coast Line in Union County, NJ, a distance of 2.8 miles, and (b) the Travis Branch between milepost 0.00 Arlington Yard Station and milepost 4.41 in Richmond County, a distance of 4.41 miles. Included within the North Shore Line segment are all tracks in Arlington Yard together with lead tracks on both the east and west ends of the yard, the so-called Wye Connector, that provides a direct connection to the Travis Branch from the North Shore Line and a track designated as the Travis Lead that provides a connection to and from the Travis Branch to the east end of Arlington Yard.\2\
PYCO Industries, Inc.-Feeder Line Application-Lines of South Plains Switching, Ltd. Co.; Keokuk Junction Railway Co.-Feeder Line Application-Lines of South Plains Switching, Ltd. Co.
The Board accepts the application of PYCO Industries, Inc. (PYCO) to purchase the entirety of the rail lines of South Plains Switching, Ltd. Co. (SAW) in Lubbock, TX, as complete under 49 U.S.C. 10907 and 49 CFR 1151. The Board also sets a procedural schedule, including the date for the filing of competing feeder line applications to purchase the entirety of SAW's rail lines.
Rail Fuel Surcharges
The Surface Transportation Board has instituted a proceeding to seek public comments on proposed measures regarding railroad practices involving fuel surcharges. These changes are intended to address concerns raised at the Board's public hearing on May 11, 2006, and in written comments received in this proceeding.
Simplified Standards for Rail Rate Cases
The Surface Transportation Board has instituted a proceeding to seek public comments on proposed changes to revise and clarify its guidelines for deciding small rate cases. In particular, the Board proposes to: create a simplified stand-alone cost (Simplified-SAC) method to be used in medium-size rate disputes for which a full stand- alone cost (Full-SAC) presentation would be too costly, given the value of the case; retain the Three-Benchmark method for small rate disputes for which a Simplified-SAC presentation would be too costly; and establish eligibility presumptions to distinguish between large, medium-size, and small rail rate disputes. These changes are intended to advance Congress' mandate to ``establish a simplified and expedited method for determining the reasonableness of challenged rail rates in those cases in which a full SAC presentation is too costly, given the value of the case.'' 49 U.S.C. 10701(d)(3).