A stalemate over whether Saratoga & North Creek Railway should be allowed to store out-of-service rail cars on its line in the state Forest Preserve promised to roll into 2018.
Opponents of the plan got a late Christmas present when the company that owned 80 or so old tanker cars that had been stored in Minerva announced plans Dec. 26 to pull them out. That announcement came days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo went public with a state plan to petition federal authorities to force the cars’ removal.
SNCR’s parent company, though, announced Dec. 27 that it planned to bring “hundreds” more cars in from another owner or owners, telling the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a letter that the state will have to buy its freight easement for the Tahawus line north of North Creek, where the cars were being parked, if it wants the practice to end. That would amount to a payoff of millions of dollars.
“Short of such an agreement, however, SNCR will continue to store rail cars on its line and, in fact, has plans to bring in hundreds of more cars over the next few months,” corporate counsel David Michaud wrote to the DEC.
Where the stalemate was headed as of the end of the year was anyone’s guess.
All of the maneuvering over the tanker cars overshadowed SNCR’s business troubles in Warren and Saratoga counties, where a cancellation of winter trains in January 2017 and late payments to municipalities and contractors has led to questions about the company’s future.
The company does plan to run a winter train on Saturdays, from Jan. 6 through the end of March.