The U.S. Surface Transportation Board on May 15 approved a coal-friendly project by R.J. Corman Railroad Co./Pennsylvania Lines Inc. to both build and re-establish rail lines in Clearfield County, Pa.
The board, which released the decision on May 21, set certain environmental mitigation conditions on the project. R.J. Corman is also authorized to acquire the adjoining right-of-way currently being used as a trail in order to provide service on the combined 20-mile segment.
R.J. Corman wants to: construct and operate 10.8 miles of previously abandoned rail right-of-way between Wallaceton Junction, Pa., and Winburne, Pa. (the Western Segment); and reactivate a connecting 9.3-mile portion of rail line between Winburne and Gorton, Pa. (the Eastern Segment) that is currently rail banked.
Together, the Eastern and Western Segments would be operated by the company to serve a new waste-to-ethanol facility, quarry, and industrial park currently being developed by Resource Recovery LLC near Gorton, as well as several other shippers located along the line that are interested in the availability of rail service. Operations over the rail line would be one or two trains per day.
The STB decision noted that an environmental impact statement on the project covered the possible use of the rail line to transport coal from surface coal mines in the area. The availability of nearby rail lines can be a key factor in whether some coal mines are developed or not, since long-distance trucking of coal to rail is relatively expensive.
In June 2008, coal operator D. Scott Kroh wrote a brief letter to the board supporting this project. “My name is D. Scott Kroh; I am 50% owner of each of the following Pennsylvania based companies: Sunbury Generation, RES Coal LLC, Robindale Energy Services, and Canoe Valley Limestone,” he wrote. “The above listed companies transport or cause to be transported on a yearly basis 9,200,000 tons of bulk material. A typical year we only move 600,000 tons of the above totals via rail primarily due to the lack of rail access. The remaining 8,600,000 tons is transported via truck. We currently control surface coal mining properties which could load on the below listed Railroad if available.”
R.J. Corman Railroad is part of R. J. Corman Railroad Group LLC, which owns several business entities and is based in Nicholasville, Ky.