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Short Line/Regional

Opponents of $2.3 Billion DM&E Loan Voice Concern as Public Comment Period Draws to a Close

WASHINGTON – As public comments came to a close, a distinguished group of national leaders has voiced their opposition to the loan and called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to deny a Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (DM&E) proposal. “The American taxpayer is being railroaded again,” George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom Institute, a public policy foundation dedicated to promoting free market principles, said in a statement during the comment period. “The DM&E railroad has a history of failing to live up to its financial obligations. American taxpayers deserve to know who the money is going to and

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Short Line/Regional

Rochester Coalition: Largest Federal Loan in U.S. History Relying on Faulty Environmental Impact Statement

ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) erred in adopting the environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) concerning the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad’s (DM&E) coal train expansion proposal, the Rochester Coalition said in comments filed today. “The FRA is relying on a dated, insufficient EIS that the Department of Transportation’s General Counsel’s Office has indicated is problematic,” said Steve Ryan, of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP and legal counsel for the Rochester Coalition. “When considering granting a $2.3 billion taxpayer-funded loan – the largest federal loan to a private company in U.S. history

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Short Line/Regional

Surface Transportation Board Approves DM&E Request

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) has approved DM&E’s application to utilize a separate subsidiary to build and operate a new 280-mile rail line into the Powder River Basin. “We’re pleased with this latest victory,” said Kevin V. Schieffer, DM&E president and CEO. “It’s another step closer to our goal of creating the best, safest, most efficient and most modern railroad in the United States.” The STB’s decision, released late yesterday, will help expand the market for financing the $6 billion project. “We have to attract a lot of private financing regardless of the outcome of

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Short Line/Regional

Minnesotans Overwhelmingly Support DM&E Railroad Plan to Upgrade Track in Southern Minnesota

NEW ULM, Minn. – By a 7-to-1 margin, Minnesotans favor Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad’s plan to upgrade its existing tracks in southern Minnesota, according to a new statewide survey of Minnesota voters about the railroad improvement plan. Asked why they favor it, supporters most often said that it would improve rail safety. The statewide survey found that 74 percent favor the DM&E plan, 10.4 percent oppose it and 15.7 percent did not know or refused to answer. Minnesotans voiced an equally strong conviction that the project would benefit farmers. The survey found that 71 percent believed the DM&E upgrade

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STB

STB Seeking Public Comments on Railroad’s Fuel Surcharge Practices

WASHINGTON – The Surface Transportation Board is seeking public comments on several measures the agency proposes to adopt regarding railroad practices involving fuel surcharges. The proposals follow the agency’s May 11, 2006, public hearing about how fuel surcharges are calculated and charged by railroads and the extensive testimony submitted to the agency by the rail industry, the public and railroad customers regarding those practices. Specifically, the STB is proposing that: A railroad wishing to assess a fuel surcharge would need to develop a computation more closely linked to its increased fuel costs attributable to that movement Railroads would be prohibited

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STB

STB Planning to Hold Grain Public Hearing

WASHINGTON — Some time this fall, the Surface Transportation Board is planning to hold a public hearing to address "certain issues related to the rail transportation of grain," the agency announced in a news release. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) on June 21 released preliminary observations on rates, competition and capacity issues within the American rail freight industry. GAO reported that the changes that have occurred in the rail industry since the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 are widely viewed as positive. The financial health of the industry has improved substantially as railroads have cut costs and boosted

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BNSF

STB Releases Fall Peak Service Plans

WASHINGTON — The Surface Transportation Board has released letters from Class I railroads outlining their “peak season” service plans. In June, Chairman W. Douglas Buttrey sent letters to the chief executive officers of the seven largest railroads and to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), asking the railroads to inform the STB of their plans to ascertain the demand for, and to prepare for, the provision of peak-season service; their performance goals for the remainder of 2006 and their plans for achieving those goals; and their plans to communicate their service goals and plans with customers. In

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Short Line/Regional

Settlement for South Dakota Core Line Announced

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Mike Rounds and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) on Nov. 28 announced a settlement has been reached for the sale of the state-owned Core railroad line to BNSF. “South Dakota producers and shippers will benefit by enhanced transportation access to markets,” Rounds said. “As a condition of the sale, we negotiated a settlement protecting and expanding access to the Core line for our South Dakota shippers. This is access to worldwide markets that our smaller carriers have never before had.” The state will collect approximately $40,337,295 from BNSF for the sale of the Core Line. The proceeds

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BNSF

Success Story? Twenty-Five Years Ago, Railroads Changed Forever, but the Debate Continues Over Whether the Staggers Act is a Success

WASHINGTON — On Oct. 14, 1980, the fate of American railroads changed. Congress passed the Staggers Act, legislation that deregulated the industry. But a quarter of a century later, the debate over the law rages on. By 1980, between a fifth and a third of the railroad industry was bankrupt, the byproduct of government regulation. An investor could have made more money putting money into the typical savings account than investing in the railroad industry. Maintenance was, to say the least, sub par and the rate of wrecks was skyrocketing. Despite the grim outlook of the railroad industry, it was