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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB dismisses petition for proposed Tongue River Railroad line

The U.S. Surface and Transportation Board (STB) yesterday posted its decision to dismiss a petition for the Tongue River Railroad Co.'s (TRRC) rail line proposed for southeast Montana.

The STB decided to kill the proposed 42-mile rail line in light of the recent bankruptcy of Arch Coal Inc. and its subsdiary, Otter Creek Coal Mine.

The Tongue River Railroad is jointly owned by BNSF Railway Co., Arch Coal Inc. and TRRC Financing LLC. Late last year, Tongue River Railroad asked the STB to suspend its permitting process for the railroad's plan to build the rail line that would have served the proposed Otter Creek mine.

In March, Arch Coal suspended its permit application at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

The STB dismissed the proceeding without prejudice.

"At this time, there appears to be little prospect that Otter Creek Coal's mine permit will be secured in the foreseeable future," the board wrote in its decision. "Otter Creek Coal and its parent, Arch, have both filed for bankruptcy, and Otter Creek Coal has suspended its application for an MDEQ mining permit indefinitely."

While it's possible that Otter Creek or another party could restart the mining permit process, "it is unclear whether and when this might occur," the board said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/27/2016