Reject Approval of Union Pacific's Lease Agreement For The Tennessee Pass Line

Reject Approval of Union Pacific's Lease Agreement For The Tennessee Pass Line

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Colorado Pacific Railroad started this petition to Surface Transportation Board

There are two railroad lines across the Rocky Mountains of Colorado; these are the Moffatt Tunnel Line west of Denver, and the Tennessee Pass Line west of Pueblo.  Union Pacific Railroad (“UP”) owns both of these lines, but has held the Tennessee Pass Line inactive and out of service for more than 20 years.  There are now big trees growing between the rails in places, and rockslides covering them in other places.  Colorado Pacific Railroad, owner of a line of railroad from Towner Colorado to a point near Pueblo, sought in November 2019 to purchase the inactive Tennessee Pass line from UP for $10 million and restore it to service, to offer competitive grain shipping options across the Rockies to the West coast.  UP spurned the offer, without a counter, and refused even to meet with Colorado Pacific to discuss the matter.  Instead, on December 31, 2020 a press release indicated UP would lease the Tennessee Pass line to another railroad company, which has chosen a deceptively similar name, dba Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway (“Colorado Midland Pacific Railway”).  This lease agreement maintains UP monopoly control, as a landlord, of freight interchange rights on the line, and the time for reopening of the line is indefinite.  Rail shippers without access to competing railroads are captives of their local service provider, and have little or no bargaining power when it comes to transportation charges.

Colorado Pacific Railroad has filed an objection at the Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) to the application of Colorado Midland Pacific Railway for STB approval to lease the Tennessee Pass Line, because the lease agreement preserves the UP monopoly across the Rockies.  This case has been assigned STB Finance Docket Number 36471, and pleadings filed in the case are available electronically at the agency’s website, www.stb.gov Petitioners hereby urge the Surface Transportation Board to deny approval of the UP lease of the Tennessee Pass rail Line to Colorado Midland Pacific Railway, and ask that the Board instead take such action as will enable competitive access across the line, to points of interchange with multiple national rail carriers at Pueblo and at Dotsero Colorado.  This will enable grain shippers from eastern Colorado and western Kansas to have competitive rail access to west coast flour mills and ports for overseas exports, such that they will no longer be at the mercy of the UP for rate setting.  Petitioners respectfully ask the Surface Transportation Board to end Union Pacific railroad monopoly control over Rocky Mountain freight traffic.

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