Salvage firm appeals rail ruling
A Utah salvage firm interested in acquiring the valleywide rail corridor has appealed last month’s decision by a federal board to allow the “rail banking” of the corridor.In June, the Surface Transportation Board granted a request by the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority to rail bank the corridor while it studies transit options for the former Denver and Rio Grande Western right of way.In its decision, the board also rejected a move by A&K Railroad Materials Co. of Salt Lake City to acquire the corridor though a procedure called an offer of financial assistance.On Monday, A&K principals Morris Kulmer and Kern Schumacher appealed the Surface Transportation Board’s ruling in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, calling it “arbitrary and capricious” and claiming the decision exceeded the board’s authority. Their petition asks the court to set aside the federal board’s ruling and send it back to the board for further proceedings.The appeal does not affect the rail banking status granted for the corridor, said Tom Newland, RFRHA executive director, in a press release yesterday. Rail banking is a legal procedure that allows the owner of a rail line to retain ownership without meeting federally imposed obligations to provide service on the line.It may be at least a year before the appeals court makes its ruling, but Newland said he is confident the appeal will be rejected.”When looking at the [Transportation Board] ruling, it’s obvious to me that A&K has little or no ground to stand on,” Newland said in the press release. “The [board] cited many reasons to reject the A&K offer of financial assistance, not the least of which was the determination that an [offer] for a publicly owned railroad should have never been accepted in the first place.”I see this as yet another serious attempt by private interests to take this valuable community asset out of public ownership, and we will pursue every opportunity available to us to defeat the appeal in federal court,” he continued.A&K requested permission to buy the RFRHA line to provide freight service. RFRHA’s motion to dismiss was based on the knowledge that Kulmer and Schumacher sold the rails for salvage from other rail lines they have acquired.
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