Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. PRC-R-09-01, Order No. 30891

September 2, 2009

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712



PUC to conduct telephonic hearing on proposed rail abandonment


The Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad is asking the federal Surface Transportation Board for permission to abandon a 3-mile section of rail line in Moscow, adjacent to Paradise Creek.


In order to receive a waiver from a much longer abandonment process, the railroad must certify that no rail traffic has moved on the line for the past two years and there are no outstanding complaints about the lack of rail service on the line.


The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is required to conduct a public hearing before the proposed abandonment is considered. The commission’s role is to determine if the abandonment 1) adversely affects the area being served, 2) impairs the access of Idaho shippers to vital goods and markets, and 3) whether the rail line has the potential for profitability. If the commission determines the proposed abandonment is not in the public interest, it files comments and represents the state before the Surface Transportation Board. If there are no objections, the commission will not file comments.


The railroad states that the rail line is in “poor condition and in need of substantial rehabilitation.” Once the company receives authority for abandonment it intends to remove the rail, track material and ties. A small bridge on the line and the bridge ballast will not be removed.


The commission will conduct a telephonic hearing from its headquarters in Boise on Tuesday, Sept 15, at 10 a.m. MDT. The railroad, any shipper, local government leaders and any other interested parties are welcome to participate either in person in the hearing room at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise or telephonically by dialing 1-208-334-0391.


Under the exemption procedure, the Surface Transportation Board will publish a notice in the Federal Register within 20 days after the petition for exemption is filed. Thirty days after the notice is published, the railroad is permitted to abandon the rail line unless the STB stays the abandonment.


A copy of the railroad’s application is available on the commission’s Web site at Click on the rail icon, then on “Open Rail Cases,” and select Case No. PRC-R-09-01.