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Western Railroad Discussion > Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?


Date: 11/18/20 13:29
Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: spider1319

Michael Williams has filed with the STB to purchase the remaining portion of the Nevada Northern  from McGill Junction to Robinson Mine in Ruth.Basically, it is proposed to allow the Nevada Northern operating rights for the museum and Williams would run trains to the mine.He would combine the S&S with the Great Basin and Norhtern for a continuos line to the interchange with the Uinon Pacific.The filing is dated November 13 and is quite lengthy and includes maps.Too much detail for here ,so check out stb.gov and go to filings.Pictured below is one of the last ore trains just north of Ely in 1999. Even if freight returns there will be no SD9s and a whole lot of rebuilding of the track will have to occur..If this happens those truck doubles hauing ore would vanish from US93.Bill Webb




Date: 11/18/20 13:57
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: callum_out

Mr. Williams is a known scrapper of some repute, he has some money (I'd assume) from a settlement on his South Dakota
property but I would be very dubious that he would resume service. I would be extremely happy to be wrong on that.

Out



Date: 11/18/20 21:36
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: JDLX

The PDF documents in the filing are very worth the time to read.  Bottom line, it looks like Mike Williams and the City of Ely/Nevada Northern museum and its Foundation have reached agreements to settle the long-running litigation between the parties.  Under the agreements Williams will buy from the city and the foundation the NN main line from Milepost 0 at Cobre to Milepost 127.0.  The Great Basin & Northern, the common carrier associated with the museum that presently has authority to provide service over the museum's trackage, is replacing William's company (S&S Shortline Leasing) as operator on the trackage between Milepost 127.9 and 127.0.  Williams states his intentions are to rehabilitate the line and reopen it for freight service, though actually doing that will be a huge investment.  In reading between the lines it does look like there are plans to scrap out the long-dormant part of the line between Shafter and Cobre, though they will probably have to seek abandonment authority on that as that part of the line has never been formally abandoned.  What's also not readily apparent is how S&S and GB&N would coordinate or cooperate in handling any potential freight shipments, as of now all the portential traffic sources are on the GB&N/Museum trackage and the agreements as they are written do not give either company trackage rights or operating authority on the other side of the Milepost 127.0 dividing line.

Jeff Moore
Elko, NV



Date: 11/18/20 22:52
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: callum_out

Mr. Williams has shown similar good intentions at time of purchase on several lines only to render them scrap in short
order. I'm not bad mouthing Mr. Williams, I'm only referencing his history.
Also Jeff, where do you see any statement of intent to operate on the part of Mr. Williams? The STB filing only says he
intends to purchase from the City and the Foundation the 127 miles of like. His history would inidcate that it would be
turned to scrap. 

Out 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/18/20 23:00 by callum_out.



Date: 11/19/20 00:27
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: ats90mph

If restoration of service were to happen, I highly doubt they would go all the way to Cobre, Shafter would be the likely interchange...



Date: 11/19/20 10:26
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: callum_out

The link between Shafter and Cobre is badly out of service and would require a complete rebuild AND you're
connecting with the same railroad (UP) at both ends. Another positive of Shafter is that with rnough screaming,
pleading and legal fees you and the STB might be able to procure an interchange agreement with BNSF.

Out 



Date: 11/20/20 09:18
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: JDLX

Sorry for the delayed response....

Callum_out, see the Michael Williams filing under his name on 11/13.  Bottom of Page 4:  "Authorization of Control will facilitate preservation of the line for future service to shippers.  Mr/ Williams and S&S intend to pursue common carrier rail service on the line."  Farther down in the Settlement document, Exhibit "B" to the filing, is the following:  "The Parties agree that the best course of action for all Parties,and for achieving the public purpose of developing the Nevada Northern Railway for commercial rail activities and to spur economic growth,is for: (1) the Parties to settle their differences and bring an end to all matters associated with all claims, whether made or threatened, including all claims associated with this litigation; (2) S & S, a public utility, to own, in fee simple (subject to the City’s reserved utility easement), and have the unfettered ability to control, develop,and benefit from,the Northern Line of the Nevada Northern Railway (as defined below), which will allow S & S to have the best chance possible of using its expertise in railroad development to fully develop the Northern Line for commercial rail traffic; (3) the City and the Foundation to have the unfettered ability to control, develop, and benefit from the Historical Line of the Nevada Northern Railway (as defined below),which will ensure protection of all the Foundation’s operations of a historical rail museum and train ride that are vital to the economy of the City and surrounding communities. To achieve these three overarching goals of settlement and this Agreement, the Parties will create a clear dividing line between the Historical and Northern Lines at Mile Post 127.00 on the mainline of the Nevada Northern Railway."  Language similar to this appears other places in the 178 pages of that filing, and there are also provisions stipulating the Foundation and others associated with the Musum to provide support to S&S grant applications for funding to rehabilitate the Northern route.  

And, in all reality, the entire line needs a complete rebuild.  The entirety of the mainline north of McGill Junction is still laid with the original 60-pound steel rolled in 1905/1906.  The line was never built nor intended to handle heavy tonnage trains.  Northern Nevada Railroad and then BHP Nevada Rail replaced most of the ties (with untreated ties) during their tenures and dumped a lot of ballast but did nothing with the rail, and even at 10 mph or less they went on the ground constantly.  By 1998 BHP was starting work on building a truck scale at the Ruth concentrator and a reload on the LA&SL in Utah that would have bypassed the former NN altogether but the operation shut down before that could come to pass.  I did a quick off the cuff cost estimate a couple years back based on various published sources, I came up with around $41 million to replace the rail with 115-pound jointed rail (assuming $37 per track foot to purchase and $15 per track foot to install), the purchase price may have come down a bit due to the tanking of steel markets in the years since I did this.  Ballast work and replacing eight ties per 39-foot rail added about another $12+ million to the cost total.  I should also add this assumed rebuilding the entire 150 miles of the main line, as noted there is no need at present for them to do anything with the line north of Shafter so that would knock around 15% off of these estimates.  

Lastly, the Williams group definitely does have a checkered history with these kinds of projects.  One one hand they, working with the State of South Dakota, have successfully rehabilitated much of the old Dakota Southern, though it looks like the state may sell that line out from underneath them to Watco.  On the other hand they either very recently lost or are about to lose a major TIGER grant that would have funded restoring part of the old Camas Prairie to service for log traffic, something apparently supported by local governments and others in that area but that they never got around to doing much if any work once the funds had been allocated.  My impressions in watching the organization for a few years now is they have way too few people especially in management or decision making roles trying to oversee way too many operations spread across an enormous geographical area, resulting in few of their operations being able to live up to their potentials even for basic stuff like car storage.  Perhaps the loss of the Washington & Idaho and pending loss of the Dakota Southern might allow them to focus their organizational energies and resources to a project like the NN, or whatever they will call it so as to avoid infringing on the Museum/Foundation trademarks.  At present Williams/S&S after a lull has recently gotten back into the car storage business n a big way, much of the old NN Shafter yard is now full of pressure differentiated covered hoppers and there are several long strings of coal hoppers occupying several miles of the mainline south of Shafter. 

Jeff Moore
Elko, NV




Date: 11/20/20 13:06
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: callum_out

Jeff, yes there was rehabilitationon the Murdo line in South Dakota but the state paid for it! The Platte line was run until it needed work and since
no money was forthcoming they just quit running on it. The Iowa line ran all the way down to Marshalltown, they made no effort increase traffic
South of Eldora and the cut back evn further isolating an active receiver in Eldora. They made many promises on the line out of Fremont NE and
did nothing. They have a history and I'd like for them to prove me wrong on the NN but they aren't going to invest $40-50 million they don't have
on the NN. They gave  a bit to the museum in the hope that they wouldn't join the anti-abandonment group.
BTW, thanks for the heads up on the 11/13 letter, didn't even see it. 
So read the portion you quoted and my reaction would be that the City would far better ensure that the line would be preserved. 

Out 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/20/20 13:16 by callum_out.



Date: 11/20/20 19:09
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: Drknow

callum_out Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Jeff, yes there was rehabilitationon the Murdo
> line in South Dakota but the state paid for it!
> The Platte line was run until it needed work and
> since
> no money was forthcoming they just quit running on
> it. The Iowa line ran all the way down to
> Marshalltown, they made no effort increase
> traffic
> South of Eldora and the cut back evn further
> isolating an active receiver in Eldora. They made
> many promises on the line out of Fremont NE and
> did nothing. They have a history and I'd like for
> them to prove me wrong on the NN but they aren't
> going to invest $40-50 million they don't have
> on the NN. They gave  a bit to the museum in the
> hope that they wouldn't join the anti-abandonment
> group.
> BTW, thanks for the heads up on the 11/13 letter,
> didn't even see it. 
> So read the portion you quoted and my reaction
> would be that the City would far better ensure
> that the line would be preserved. 
>
> Out 

The old M&StL between Steamboat Rock and Marshalltown could be operational today if they would have worked with shippers along the line. Now the line ends about 2 miles north of Steamboat Rock and everything from the ethanol plant at Cleves goes north to the CN/IC at Ackley.The best hope is the abandoned ROW becomes a bike trail. Another missed opportunity.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 11/20/20 22:39
Re: Nevada Northern:Will this Freight Scene Return?
Author: JDLX

I found the following news article from 2009, a lot of the things Williams was saying about the Dakota Southern then are pretty close to the same things he is saying about the NN now:

https://www.rtands.com/news/dakota-southern-owners-consider-rehabilitation-for-regional-railroad-line/

That being said, a series of TIGER grants from the Federal government paid for most of the rehabilitation of the Dakota Southern.  And reading between the lines of the STB filings strongly indicates that major rehabilitation of the old NN main is dependent on getting similar grants.

I also won't argue that the Williams group as a whole has a long record of big talk but little action.  

White Pine County/Cit of Ely/Nevada Northern museum and foundation have been in litigation with S&S/Williams since at least 2015.  What's in the present transactions on the STB website are effectively the same terms Williams offered the museum and municipal governments in a settlement offer two years ago.  It's taken this long for everyone to get on board with it.  

Jeff Moore
Elko, NV 



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