Digest: Rocky Mountaineer won't run in 2020

News Wire Digest third section for July 22: Uinta Basin group says opponents have no grounds to stop STB exemption for project; Canadian crude-by-rail hits four-year low
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Wednesday evening rail news in brief:

Rocky Mountaineer scraps 2020 season

Rocky Mountaineer, the luxury tour train operation in Western Canada, has ended its efforts to salvage at least some of the 2020 season, suspending all remaining departures planned for this year because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite the challenging environment, we remained hopeful we would be able to operate our trains at some point this season,” Steve Sammut, president and CEO, said in a press release announcing the decision. “However, given the continuing government travel and health restrictions, we have no choice but to postpone our rail tours until the scheduled start of our 2021 season.” Those holding reservations can contact Rocky Mountaineer to reschedule for the 2021 or 2022 seasons. More information is available here.


Uinta Basin group says opponents' objections are irrelevant to its request for STB exemption
The group seeking to build a new Utah rail line is asking the Surface Transportation Board to grant the exemption that would allow it to start construction despite objections of groups opposing the project, saying those groups’ objections have nothing to do with the matters of transportation policy that are the STB’s purview. The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, which wants to build the Uinta Basin Railroad to transport oil out of an isolated portion of Utah, says in its latest filing with the STB that the railroad will provide an alternative and cheaper means of transportation for an area now reliant on trucks. Opponents “do not appear to be concerned with the transportation merits of the project at all,” the filing says. “These parties oppose the project for environmental reasons” and want the STB to require a full application to build “by attacking the project’s financial viability and reason a number of other issues that do not preclude an exemption.”  Several groups have filed objections to the project, beginning with an environmental group that said it planned to “strenuously oppose” the Uinta Basin request [see “Environmental group files opposition to Utah rail project,” News Wire Digest, June 18, 2020].


Canadian crude-by-rail hits four-year low

Canadian crude-by-rail exports dropped by 63% in May, a Canadian regulatory agency reports, reaching a four-year low as U.S. fuel demand fell because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Press reports May shipments fell to about 58,000 barrels per day, down from 156,000 per day in April, and just 14% of the record 412,000 barrels per day in February. The move reflects an increase in available pipeline space to transport the oil as producers in Western Canada reduced production because of declining demand.


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