Resources - Abandonment

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Public Information > Resources: Abandonment

Applications for abandonment are normally handled under a "modified procedure." Cases are decided based on the written submissions of the parties.

Most abandonment applications are filed by the rail carrier owning the track to be abandoned. The most frequent type of abandonment requests the STB receives is from a railroad stating that the track has not been used for two years or more (such a case is entitled "Notice of Exemption") or that the track has so little traffic on it that it is clear that the carrier could not be making a profit on it (such a case is entitled a "Petition for Exemption").

Pleadings filed in opposition to abandonments are usually filed by shippers or receivers who are stationed along the line to be abandoned, but other persons may also file in opposition provided that they either challenge the railroad's statements as filed or offer evidence to show that the shippers and receivers on the line would suffer more harm by losing the rail service than the carrier would suffer by continuing to provide the service.

Procedures are available for those who would like to purchase the line and assume the common carrier obligation to provide service (contract or non-contract) over the line, or who would like to offer the carrier a subsidy to continue to provide the service. This is called an "Offer of Financial Assistance."

Procedures are also available for those who would like to see the rail corridor made into a public trail or who would like to put the right-of-way to another public use.

To learn about past abandonments please contact the Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance (OPAGAC). Be prepared with the docket number if you have it, the name of the railroad that last provided service over the line, the location of the line (State and County), the end points of the line, and direction of the line (north-south or east-west).

To learn more about the abandonment processes please contact the Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance (OPAGAC).

The STB's rules governing abandonments are at 49 CFR Part 1152.

You can view recent abandonments using the Railroad Map Depot.