As expected, BNSF Railway today filed an Abandonment Exemption with the federal Surface Transportation Board. In this 62-page document, BNSF proposes abandonment of 14.5 miles of track between Dunfermline and Farmington 50 days after the date of filing notice, or March 6, 2013.
The document claims “there has been no local or overhead traffic on the line since 2003.” A map of the track proposed for abandonment is shown on page 9. BNSF intends to salvage the line, and it will not be rail-banked.
Regarding traffic, the diamond (at-grade crossing) with the Keokuk Junction Railway at Canton was removed in the spring of 2000, so no overhead traffic has been possible since then. In fact, the last reported train to use this line was in the fall of 1999 when BNSF pushed a string of autoracks from Yates City south through Farmington and Canton. Cars were apparently stored along Rt. 78 for salvaging by Hitchcock Scrap Yard. Another barrier to such a move is that about a mile of track north of Farmington was abandoned and pulled up in 2007.
Brief, historical background to this trackage is provided on page 28.
While there is no guaranteed outcome, I expect the Keokuk Junction Railway (KJRY) to file an Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) in the coming days. To counter the City of Canton’s desire for recreational trail development, the KJRY will have to make a case for preserving all or a portion of the Dunfermline-Farmington line.
A potential shipper, Hitchcock Scrap Yard, will need to provide a letter of support to KJRY’s OFA petition and explain how rail service to their facility is only viable through establishment of KJRY shortline service. If Aventine Renewable Energy would like KJRY service sometime in the future, they should provide a letter of support as well.
As I wrote in the previous post, this could be a significant story for 2013. Come back here for updates.
- David P. Jordan