Appeals Court Reverses Course in SEDA-COG Dispute

The fight over a Pennsylvania short-line railroad took another turn last week when a Pennsylvania state appeals court reversed its earlier order and instructed a lower court in Clinton County to reconsider a short line service contract approved by the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority Board of Directors.

The legal action stemmed from the Susquehanna Union Railroad, also known as the North Shore Railroad, being turned down by SEDA-COG for a seven-year operating contract. Instead, the contract went to Carload Express of Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

Susquehanna Union has operated the lines in question since they were purchased by the state from Conrail in 1984.

In awarding the operating contract to Carload Express, SEDA-COG said it used a scoring system that showed Carload Express scored one point higher than Susquehanna Union.

The line is made up of five branches and 200 miles of track in central Pennsylvania.

The 2015 decision has displeased both railroads with each filing lawsuits.

One issue is that state law requires nine of the board’s 16 members to approve the contract, but six members abstained during the voting.

In sending the case back the appeals court said the lower court “failed to resolve all issues” and additional pertinent information has since been disclosed.

The latter includes a news report saying that in a sworn deposition, a SEDA-COG board member said he had given no points to the North Shore when submitting his tally in 2015, but had planned to give the railroad 60 out of a possible 100 points.

That would have been enough to put Susquehanna Union into a tie with Carload Express.

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