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BNSF Conroe Subdivision Leased To Timber Rock Railroad


BREAKING NEWS NOVEMBER 2006!! Timber Rock Railroad Files To discontinue Service on Conroe Sub--Click Here

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BNSF To Lease Conroe Sub

For the first time in well over 100 years it appears the East-West Railroad thru Conroe, Tx will no longer carry Santa Fe in it's name. Effective July 1, 2004.

From the Silsbee Bee:

By Dwayne Davis

   In what was touted as a "Town Hall Meeting" held Friday, April 2, at the Beaumont Hilton, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad executives met with concerned employees from the Silsbee train yard, and discussed the future of their employment status. They were informed that as early as July 1, many of their jobs

continued on page 2

would no longer be at the Silsbee train yard.     The meeting was held behind closed doors,
allowing only personnel from the company access to the meeting. Railroad police asked all media agencies to vacate the capacity-filled meeting room.

John C. Klaus, General Manager of BNSF's Gulf Division was on-hand to preside over the three meetings which were scheduled for 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., to allow for employees from differing shifts to be able to attend.

The specific purpose of the meeting was to provide information regarding the "disposition of the Conroe and Silsbee Subdivisions between Dobbin and Beaumont."

 In a post meeting interview with BNSF public affairs spokesman, Joe Faust, who has been with the company since 1996, he explained that the meetings are an integral way for BNSF to communicate the issues of importance to their employees. He explained that at the present that there were no specifics to be reported on the jobs of the Silsbee yard employees.

"Annually at BNSF, we look at our entire network to determine what is the most profitable method of operations for our infrastructure, and how we can most effectively serve our customers," Faust stated. "We have found that some routes in our network can be more efficiently operated by smaller short-line type railroad companies. The Silsbee route, in our estimation, falls under that formula."

Faust said the Silsbee subdivision covers 120.7 miles of track from Dobbin to Beaumont. In an earlier interview, he stated that BNSF was not abandoning the track, but was in active negotiations to procure a third party that would lease the span of tracks which service Conroe, Longview and Silsbee.

Faust said that at the present there are several companies involved in deliberations, and that no plans have been finalized.

"We want to let our employees know what their employment status is," Faust assured. "At present there are approximately 150 employees on the Silsbee roster. It has not yet been determined as to how many will be called upon to relocate.

"In terms of BNSF, there are positions all over our network," Faust stated. "It is a matter of relocation for those whose jobs will end in Silsbee. I don't want that to sound trite or simple, because we know that families being uprooted abruptly is never easy. It a major concern for us. We want our dedicated employees to be assured that there are positions available."

Faust added that in no way was the third party leasee under any obligation to hire any of BNSF's employees, but that he would suspect that whoever takes over the day to day operations of the yard, would be wise to consider the experience and familiarity of those workers.

"The jobs that our employees have currently are union jobs, which are under labor agreements," Faust explained. "If they have seniority, they can utilize that leverage. The current union agreement dates back to 1995, when the two lines merged."

According to Faust, there is high demand at BNSF for all the different crafts, and opportunity is great for their employees, if they are willing to move.

BNSF operations in Beaumont will go on as is, according to Faust, with no plans for change. Paul Tibbit, a United Transportation Union representative that was present at the meeting said that BNSF was being factual and up front with their information, but it was just not what those in attendance were wanting to hear.
"They didn't sugar coat it," Tibbit said. "They gave the facts, and the facts are that around 50 train and engine workers are going to be adversely affected by this business decision."

Tibbit said that the rumor had been circulating since last March that BNSF was planning to make a move, and the consensus is that Timber Rock Railroad who currently operates 30 miles of service from Silsbee to Kirbyville will be the third party short-line service.

L. M. Hooks, a 54 year employee for the railroad, was on hand for the meeting and said that it will probably mean his retirement. Mechanical employees in the Silsbee yard, might have got the best news of all, in that Omni Trax would continue to use the yard as a staging area for its repair operations, thus providing work for those that "pull the wrenches."

Conroe Sub Gone 7-3-04
County railroad leased out to Timber Rock
By: Burton Speakman, Courier Staff June 28, 2004
Customers along the east-west railroad that travels through Conroe soon will be served by a new company. Advertisement
Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad has agreed to lease the line to Timber Rock Railroad Company, according to Joseph Faust, regional director of public affairs for BNSF.
The line Timber Rock would take over begins in Dobbin in the west part of the county and continues east to Beaumont, he said.
The final details of the arrangement have not been approved, and the deal has not been finalized, Faust said.
"We do not expect any problems or challenges to the agreement," he said.
The transfer is scheduled for Saturday, Faust said. The deal has to be approved by the national office for BNSF.
"BNSF consistently reviews its network to ensure the most efficient use of assets and to provide the most effective service for its customers," Faust said. "We believe Timber Rock Railroad Company has the operating flexibility and local business development focus to better serve the needs of the customer base in the area."
The company reviews its system annually to make these determinations, Faust said.
"We think that Timber Rock, because of its local focus, will be more efficient in meeting customers needs," he said.
More details about the deal will become available when an official announcement is made regarding the agreement Thursday or Friday, Faust said. Timber Rock General Manager Pat LaCaze said his company intends to take over the line Saturday. This transaction is one of several Timber Rock has made with BNSF, he said.
"They're better at long hauls with 100 to 200 cars, while we're better with small hauls," LaCaze said. "A good comparison is to the airline industry ... BNSF is like Continental, and we're like Continental Express." Timber Rock began leasing lines from BNSF along the route in 1998. This line connects the company from Dobbin to Somerville.
Customers along the line have been made aware of the change.

Burton Speakman can be reached at

©The Courier 2004

Official STB Decision on Change 7-14-04

Full Text of Decision
Surface Transportation Board
[STB Finance Docket No. 34503]
Timber Rock Railroad, Inc. –Lease Exemption– The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company

Timber Rock Railroad, Inc. (TRRR), a Class III rail carrier, has filed a verified notice of
exemption under 49 CFR 1150.41 to acquire by lease and to operate approximately 117.82 miles of rail line owned by The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF): (1) between milepost 4.5 near Beaumont, TX, and milepost 21.8 near Silsbee, TX; (2) between milepost 52.5 near Dobbin, TX, and milepost 152.56 at Silsbee, TX, and (3) between milepost 0.5 and milepost 0.96 near Kirbyville, TX.  TRRR will also acquire incidental overhead trackage rights over 54.72 miles of BNSF's rail line: (1) between milepost 4.5 near Beaumont, TX, and milepost 2.28 at Beaumont, TX; and (2) between milepost 52.5 near Dobbin, TX, and milepost 144.0 on the BNSF Galveston Subdivision at Somerville, TX, for the purpose of interchanging traffic with BNSF.

TRRR certifies that its projected revenues as a result of this transaction will not result in the
creation of a Class II or a Class I rail carrier. But, because TRRR's projected annual revenues will
exceed $5 million, TRRR has certified to the Board on May 4, 2004, that it sent the required notice of the transaction on May 3, 2004, to the national offices of all labor unions representing
employees on the affected lines and posted a copy of the notice at the workplace of the employees on the affected lines on May 2, 2004. See 49 CFR 1150.42(e).

The transaction was scheduled to be consummated on or after July 3, 2004 (which is 60 days or more after TRRR's certification to the Board that it had complied with the Board's rule at 49 CFR

If the notice contains false or misleading information, the exemption is void ab initio. Petitions to revoke the exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502(d) may be filed at any time. The filing of a petition to revoke will not automatically stay the transaction.

An original and 10 copies of all pleadings, referring to STB Finance Docket No. 34503, must be filed with the Surface Transportation Board, 1925 K Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20423-0001. Also, a copy of each pleading must be served on Karl Morell, Ball Janik LLP, Suite 225, 1455 F Street, N.W.,
Washington, DC 20005.

Board decisions and notices are available on our website at .

Decided: July 2, 2004.
By the Board, David M. Konschnik, Director, Office of Proceedings.
Vernon A. Williams

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