Digest: AAR filing supports right to perform maintenance in Del Mar Bluffs issue

News Wire Digest second section for Sept. 21: New tunnel completed on Vermont Rail line in Middlebury, Vt.; man remodeling Kansas house discovers it's built from two 1880s boxcars
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An Amtrak Pacific Surfliner heads north along the Del Mar Bluffs in January 2020. The North County Transit District, which owns the lines along the bluffs, has gone to the Surface Transportation Board for a ruling regarding conflicting rules regarding rail operations and coastal use.
TRAINS: David Lassen

More Monday morning rail news:

AAR files letter in support of right to perform maintenance in California matter before STB

Saying the matter raises “complex and important legal issues,” the Association of American Railroads has filed a letter of reply on the San Diego-area North County Transit District’s petition to the Surface Transportation Board regarding its right-of-way maintenance plans along the Del Mar Bluffs in Del Mar, Calif. The district seeks an order from the STB that federal law governing railroads, specifically the ICC Termination Act, preempts state and federal coastal-use law [see “Digest: San Diego transit agency seeks STB ruling …,” Sept. 15, 2020]. Citing prior precedents, the AAR’s legal counsel writes that “there should be no set of facts that should cause the board to reach an outcome here that would allow states or localities to use permitting and preclearance requirements to prevent railroads from performing maintenance necessary to safely fulfill their common carrier obligations.” The AAR indicated that, should the STB seek further evidence it will evaluate how the case “could implicate the broader railroad industry.” Also, in a separate filing, the California Coastal Commission requested more time to respond to the NCTD filing; as was the case in a similar request made Thursday by the City of Del Mar, the district filed its opposition to that request. All three filings are available on the STB website.

Middlebury, Vt., tunnel opens, ending 10-week shutdown of Vermont Rail line
Ending a 10-week shutdown of the Vermont Rail System line through the community, the city of Middlebury, Vt., held a ceremony on Friday to mark the completion of a $72 million tunnel project, replacing two 1920s-era bridges through the middle town. VermontBiz.com reports the 360-foot tunnel provides sufficient clearance for double-stack container traffic, and sets the stage for an extension of Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express from its current northern terminus of Rutland, Vt., to serve Middlebury and Burlington, Vt. The passenger service is expected to begin in 2021. Completion of the tunnel means Vermont Rail system is no longer forced to make a lengthy de

Man remodeling home discovers it's built from two largely intact early Santa Fe boxcars
A man remodeling a bungalow-style home in Newton, Kan., made an unexpected discovery — the home, built in 1929, was originally constructed out of two 1880s-era Santa Fe boxcars. The Hutchinson News reports Ryan Welker first realized the situation when he discovered a tin roof while trying to run some new electrical line. Further work uncovered an 1873 built date on one of the cars. The remodeling ended up making use of the beams in the car roofs as part of the house’s ceiling, and exposed some of the original wood car sides as part of the walls in some rooms. The house may be going on the market — Welker’s family is looking to relocate to help Ryan Welker’s father on the family farm.

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