Metro-North must resubmit application
The Surface Transportation Board, a federal agency that regulates the railroad industry, has denied Metro-North’s request to abandon 41 miles of the dormant Beacon rail line that runs from the city’s waterfront to the Connecticut border and has been proposed for a rail trail.
According to a decision issued by the Surface Transportation Board in July, Metro-North should apply to “railbank” — or pause usage along the line — rather than abandon it. Railbanking would keep the Beacon Line as part of the national rail network and allow Metro-North to retain its right-of-way. In turn, that would allow the creation of an interim (but likely long-term), publicly accessible rail trail.
The Surface Transportation Board denied Metro-North’s request “without prejudice,” which means it can submit a new application.
Earlier this month, Dutchess County said it had spent $278,000 to hire a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study on creating a trail along a 13-mile stretch of the line, from the Beacon waterfront to Hopewell Junction. That study, to be conducted by a firm based in Syracuse, is expected to be completed in 2025.
Beacon officials have long called for the conversion of the dormant line as a rail trail. Those talks have intensified in the last month as the City Council considers rezoning a portion of the Fishkill Avenue corridor, which runs parallel to parts of the line.