Rio Grande News

  • V&S / A&K TOWNER ABANDONMENT - THEY'RE BACK...
    Posted Friday, June 12 2015 at 1359 h MDT
    V&S/A&K is back, and this time look like they might actually file the correct paperwork to actually abandon the entirety of the Towner Line.

    First, we have a rather angry response from V&S where they adamantly deny having done any removal of rail materials from the western segment of the line. I've read it, and you should, too. It's an interesting case of them being technically correct in legalese while, in my opinion, acting in bad faith to the intent of the law.

    My favourite quote from the response is: In fact, no rail or track materials have been removed from the Western Segment. Attached as Exhibit 1 is the Verified Statement of Mr. Rocky Smith, Vice President of Field Operations for A&K Railroad Materials, Inc., of which V &S is an affiliate. He states unequivocally, "No rail, spikes or tie plates were removed from the right-of-way of the Western Segment."

    This is - in fact - technically correct. However, when you remove 80% of the spikes and rail anchors from the track - even if they're still technically on the right of way - you've effectively damaged the track structure to the point it's no longer a railway. It's just a collection of track materials sitting on the right of way. It completely voids the spirit and intent of the OFA (offer of financial assistance) part of the formal abandonment process, which is intended to preserve the rail network by first offering an abandonment candidate to anyone who may wish to actually operate it.

    The STB itself keys in on this point in their May 7, 2015 decision to stop V&S/A&K's dismantling procedures: "We acknowledge there is agency precedent that indicates that, under some circumstances, a party can remove track and track materials once discontinuance has been granted (as it has been here).[13] But there is also agency precedent that holds that parties should not be permitted to remove track until they have received abandonment authority,[14] or where there is a valid OFA request to preserve rail service.[15] The Complaint thus raises novel, important, and serious questions about the requirements of 10903 and 10904, and about whether V&S has attempted to evade the requirements."

    All said and done, however, V&S/A&K appear intent to get their scrap. At least now, however, they're going through the correct procedures. They've filed notices with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and a number of federal agencies (because the line contains federal land grants) that they intend to file for abandonment of the entire route around July 1, 2015. -
    NDHolmes

  • D&RGW 168 TO BE REBORN ON THE C&TS
    Posted Sunday, March 29 2015 at 0030 h MDT
    The Colorado Springs city council, in a rare moment of sanity and agreement, approved a series of three 15 year leases that will take D&RGW T-12 #168 out of the Antlers Park downtown and send it to Chama for rebuilding and eventual operation. The press release can be found [here]. (Fixed the link - thanks to Steve Walden for letting me know it was busted.) - NDHolmes

  • MINNESOTA ZEPHYR F7s FINALLY HERE
    Posted Saturday, March 28 2015 at 2319 h MDT
    Given that their trek began with loading onto flat cars in Minnesota just before New Years, it's taken forever for the two - MNZX 787 and MNZX 788 - to finally move down the Joint Line. They arrived in Denver last week, but it took until this morning to get them moving southward towards their new home in Alamosa.

    Thanks to a heads up by Nathan Z this morning, I managed to go outside and suffer through some of the sunny, 75 degree weather today in my convertible to chase these guys. The results of the chase between Palmer Lake and Pueblo [are posted here]. -
    NDHolmes

  • SKI TRAIN RETURNS - BRIEFLY
    Posted Wednesday, February 25 2015 at 1146 h MST
    Amtrak has announced that for one day - Saturday, March 14 - the spirit of the old DRGW/Ansco Ski Train will return in the form of the Amtrak Winter Park Express. For $75, the train will leave Denver Union Station at 0700h and arrive at Winter Park two hours later at 0900h. You'll then have most of the day ski or wander around town. The return trip loads up at 1615h and arrives in Denver two hours later.

    There are only 400 seats available, so for those interested, get all the details and book your tickets here. I would suspect, given the popularity of the train over the years, that the tickets will sell quickly.
    -
    NDHolmes

 Other Rio Grande Websites
 DRGW.org
  The most comprehensive D&RGW site out there
 Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society
  The Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society
 ColoradoRailfan.com
  Kevin Morgan's D&RGW Site (formerly drgw.ws) - Route and historical info, as well as photos
 Railblazer
  An excellent site by a Mike B., a professional railroader and former D&RGW employee
 More Rio Grande Websites...
 
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