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Coal downturn hits railroads hard

Federal transportation board rejected a proposed Montana railroad due to coal bankruptcies.

In the latest ripple effect from the coal industry’s troubles, the federal Surface Transportation Board cancelled a proposed railroad in southeastern Montana on Tuesday. The Tongue River Railroad project was designed to connect the proposed Otter Creek coal mine to an existing BNSF Railway line. Arch Coal, one of several large U.S. coal companies that have filed for bankruptcy, pulled its application for mine permits last month but Arch and its partners still wanted the federal government to keep the proposal for the railroad alive, in hopes that they could revive the mine project in the future. Ranchers, who have fought the rail line for decades, appealed to the Surface Transportation Board to reject the railroad, given the bankruptcies and the weak market for coal.

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High Country News