SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority
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 Policies amd Procedures

The SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority was created in 1984 for the primary purpose of preserving rail lines serving central Pennsylvania. Our priority is to ensure safe, efficient, and quality rail freight service to industries along our railroads. We recognize, however, in owning 200 miles of railroad infrastructure, other needs and uses of our property may arise.

All requests regarding land owned by the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA) should be directed to Rail Authority Property Management Staff (See Additional Contacts).  Each request is then discussed by the appropriate JRA Committee and ultimately presented to the full JRA Board for approval.  The Rail Authority strives to remain consistent in its fees and policies in accordance with the rent schedule and procedures adopted by the JRA.  The license and easement fees collected are in turn generally used for various rail/highway crossing improvements and other appropriate railroad infrastructure projects in the communities we serve. 

The following is a brief summary of standard procedures taken when applying for various Railroad occupation agreements, as adopted by the Rail Authority. In all such cases, it is the responsibility of the applicant to be in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws governing the request. The Rail Authority reserves the right to deny any request for use of railroad property.

APPLICATION/LETTER OF REQUEST

1. If the proposed occupation is within the confines of a public street, application must be filed through the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).

2.  If the occupation will be solely on railroad property, a cover letter of request must be submitted along with other information as outlined below.  The cover letter must include the following detail:

  • Brief description of the project purpose, objectives, background, and specific circumstances the railroad may need to consider.
  • Purpose of utility, expected end users, and number and nature of end users.
  • Name and contact information of owner/maintainer of facility.
  • If facility is required as a result of public highway or bridge construction, name and contact of project sponsor must be provided.

UTILITY CROSSINGS

1. When the occupation crosses within the railroad right-of-way and/or runs along our track, 3 sets of 11 x 17 detailed plans/profile and site location map must be submitted with the letter of request.  The plans and profile must clearly indicate property lines, distances from centerline of track, and depth and height below or above the track, along with a pipe data sheet.  The Rail Authority has adopted the engineering specifications of the former Conrail. If you are not familiar with these, a copy is provided under engineering specifications. Also, you may wish to refer to the PUC site for minimum clearances of permanent obstructions near a railroad.

2. The agreement may be established as an annual rental or as a permanent easement.  Rail Authority agreements will be used (Refer to Easements Forms and License Agreement Forms).  The easement fee is found by multiplying the applicable annual rental by 20 (refer to rent schedule).

3. The Rail Authority may request a site visit with the applicant and our railroad operator. The applicant must provide proof of applicable insurances including general liability and workmen's compensation. In most cases, the applicant will be required to obtain Railroad Protective Insurance. In addition, in some instances, the Authority may require a Performance Bond.

4. The applicant must coordinate construction of the utility with our operating railroad (see additional contacts) prior to entering upon railroad property.  Any required flagging services by the railroad will be billed by and paid directly to the operating railroad company.  This is in addition to the Rail Authority agreement fee.  The need for flagging is at the sole discretion of the operating railroad. 

5. The applicant must also be in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local ordinances.

6. All railroad occupation requests are granted or denied solely at the discretion of the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority, and the Authority reserves the right to deny any such request. If approved by the Authority, turn around time for an agreement is usually 30-45 days from the time plans are submitted.

TEMPORARY USE OF RAILROAD PROPERTY

1. These requests are reviewed on a case by case basis.

2. When applicable, the insurances and bonding outlined under utility crossings will be enforced.

3. Charges for temporary use are decided on an individual basis, and the Authority reserves the right to reject any proposal or request.

PRIVATE CROSSINGS (VEHICLE/PEDESTRIAN)

In accordance with FRA safety policy and the railroad industry, we strongly discourage the creation of any new at-grade crossings along the railroad. An applicant must submit a map showing the necessity of the crossing and also showing that there is no other access available.

1. The applicant will be responsible for construction, maintenance, and liability of the crossing.

2. If the request is approved, the crossing will be installed by our railroad operator, in accordance with railroad specifications, at the applicant's sole expense. This includes warning signs, cross bucks, and future maintenance.

LAND LEASES

1. Most land lease costs will be determined on a square footage basis.

LAND SALES

1. The JRA's standard policy is to sell property at no less than appraised value.  All rail property is sold by Quit Claim Deed only, prepared by the buyer's attorney at the buyer's expense, and no property will be transferred for less than $750.00 regardless of the appraised value.

2. A site location map must be submitted along with a letter of request explaining the reason the proposed buyer is interested in purchasing the railroad property.

3. A site visit will normally be scheduled.

4. If the request is approved, the buyer will be responsible for obtaining the appraisal, using the appraiser of the Authority's choice, at the buyers sole expense.  Buyer will also obtain a survey at his/her sole expense.  Survey must be performed by a registered surveyor and must be a metes & bounds survey with notation of adjacent land owners.  Appropriate property markers must be placed in the field, and the survey must comply with standard error of closure and all Pennsylvania land survey standards.  For a list of surveyors familiar with our railroad property please contact the JRA Property Manager (see additional contacts)

5. The buyer will also be responsible for any other fees associated with the purchase of property (transfer taxes, etc.).