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Colorado Pacific Railroad to challenge Union Pacific over ‘its monopoly stranglehold’

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January 2, 2021, 5:45 pm
Union Pacific tracks along the Eagle River through Dowd Junction.

Colorado Pacific Railroad on Saturday announced it will challenge a deal between Union Pacific and Rio Grande Pacific to possibly rehabilitate the Tennessee Pass Line and offer passenger and freight service through Eagle County.

In a brief press release, Hayden Soloviev, Vice Chairman of New York-based Solow Building Company and Crossroads Agriculture – the parent companies of Colorado Pacific Railroad – made its plans known Saturday afternoon after Rio Grande Pacific subsidiary Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway Company announced its deal with UP on Thursday.

Here’s the statement from Soloviev in its entirety:

“Colorado Pacific Railroad LLC (CXR) will be filing a protest at the Surface Transportation Board asking it not to approve the Tennessee Pass lease agreement announced December 31st between Union Pacific (UP) and Rio Grande Pacific (RGP) on grounds that UP thereby maintains its monopoly stranglehold across the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, in defiance of concerns about the Tennessee Pass line stated by the Board in its decision in the 1996 UP-SP merger case. It appears that CXR should also request the reopening of that case, to enable Colorado’s competitive access to the national railroad network. Further, RGP has selected a business entity name deceptively similar to ours, in a purposeful effort to confuse the public. This is legally actionable and will not be tolerated.”

Soloviev’s father, Stefan Soloviev, told RealVail.com in November that he intended to challenge UP for control of the line in much the same way he gained control of the Towner Line in southeastern Colorado, where he has significant agricultural holdings. At that time, he alleged UP was engaged in monopolistic practices.

“We can show that we can bring these freight rates down by competing with UP’s flow to the west. That’s number one; that’s paramount,” Soloviev said. “There’s a law in this country that if you own a railroad and you do not operate service at a fair rate, you are subject to lose the railroad and we used that case and it worked. Union Pacific has a grain monopoly.”

Soloviev also made assurances that he was sincere in offering to operate daily, year-round, roundtrip passenger service between Pueblo and Minturn, as well as rights of way along the tracks for recreational trails. His company had reached out to Eagle County to discuss the line from Sage (near the Eagle County Regional Airport) southeast over Tennessee Pass.

In its announcement on Thursday, Colorado Midland said it would “assess the interest of the communities served by the Tennessee Pass Line for commuter passenger rail services connecting the residential areas and workplaces of Eagle, Lake, Chaffee, and Fremont counties. If there is interest, CMP will assist public agencies in obtaining funding for establishing passenger rail services.”

Soloviev, in filings with the federal government and via an attorney, has confirmed his Colorado Pacific Railroad Company would have to spend an estimated $278 million to refurbish the approximately 160 miles of track, which have been dormant since 1997.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

8 Responses to Colorado Pacific Railroad to challenge Union Pacific over ‘its monopoly stranglehold’

  1. Robert E Bichon Reply

    January 3, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t know what everyone is arguing about? You can’t get to Pueblo from Minturn even if you spend the mega bucks to rehab the track west of Parkdale. CGRX owns the track between Parkdale and Canon City. They are never going to allow 3rd party traffic on their track. The liability alone will prevent that.

  2. Jesse Truax Reply

    January 3, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    @Robert E Bichon – it sounds like the STB could force CGRX to allow 3rd party traffic on their track. I think the state of Colorado should use the Moffat Tunnel negotiations as leverage to acquire the line between Parkdale and Leadville to create a conservation area with bike trail. We could protect the valley once and for all, as well as generate tens of millions in annual recreational tourism traffic.

    • Chris Remlinger Reply

      January 5, 2021 at 7:47 am

      How would you like to have something forced upon you? Tens of millions in tourist dollars ?
      Let the UP do its business as it wishes, it owns the ROW.
      Let the whiners go back to the East Coast.

  3. T.l.b Reply

    January 3, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    Omg. I’m a freight train conductor, not for union pacific, but the other major class 1 railroad. If they wanted to complain they should’ve done so in the last 30 years that the Tennessee Pass subdivision has been out of service. If they wanted that subdivision they should’ve tried to buy it. What a bunch of whiners.

  4. Forrest Whitman Reply

    January 3, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    A historical note: Pres. Lincoln guaranteed to those railroads (as he gave them all that land),that public access be guaranteed. We need to remind the mighty Class Is, and for darn sure the top brass at AMTRAK.

  5. V12Tommy Reply

    January 4, 2021 at 10:50 am

    This just seems like grandstanding by the one railroad, because they are butt hurt that they didn’t make a deal, and so UP made a deal with someone else.

  6. relentless cactus Reply

    January 4, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    I don’t think the commenters here have been following the story. They did try to buy it. Amtrak, huh? And the reason they didn’t make the deal was UPRR was already negotiating with RGP.

  7. Forrest Whitman Reply

    January 5, 2021 at 8:07 am

    Of course AMTRAK has nothing to do with it, just threw that in under the category of entities not getting the historic access piece. Take away: UP wants to continue their monopoly on east-west traffic. Soloviev’s plan breaks that hold and very probably lowers shipping rates especially for the ag business in eastern Colorado. Also, Soloviev has bought and saved a decrepit railroad.

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