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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.