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    Posted Sunday, August 24 2014 at 1056 h MDT
    I'd heard a few reports circulating lately that A&K had actually started in on the Towner Line, so I went out late yesterday afternoon to try to verify those and collect proof. I'm sad to say that the news is bad. They indeed have everything in place they need to scrap out the line - except STB permission for abandonment. In fact, there's at least one OFA on the table (Offer of Financial Assistance - basically a request to buy the line intact), and I've heard there may be a second.

    No need to let pesky legalities get in the way, however. (In fact, I'm sure V&S/A&K will argue they're not abandoning it, they're just borrowing the rail for an indefinite period and betting they don't have to put it back.) V&S brought in a string of empty rail carriers and SMNR 3518 - an M420 from a Canadian branch they ripped out in 2007. Those are sitting at NA Junction. The washouts near the Highway 96 crossing have been fixed. A&K crews have pulled most of the spikes and rail anchors starting at Arlington, CO, and working west as far as halfway between Sugar City and Ordway. There's a line of heavy machinery at Arlington, including a speed swing, backhoe with a magnet attached to the arm, a grader, and a front end loader.

    With the track structure is now unsuitable for anything except one last train to pull up the rails and all the machinery you'd need to scrap out the track in place, it's pretty much a done deal. The west end of the Towner Line is toast, due process be damned.

    Photos substantiating its current status have been posted [here]. -

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