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Montana railroad corridor.


Surface Transportation Board
The federal agency that oversees changes made by railroad companies. Formerly the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC).

As used by railroad companies, "abandon" means to cease operation on a line, or to terminate the line itself. Abandonment is official when the STB has issued an order authorizing abandonment of the line AND the railroad has notified the STB that it has consummated the abandonment authorization.

A trail on or directly adjacent to an active railroad corridor.


Condition allowing a railroad to "bank" a corridor for future rail use if necessary. During the interim, alternative trail use is a viable option.

Trails Glossary and Acronyms


RTC Resources

Secrets of Successful Rail-Trails , Chapter 6, "What is the Status of Those Tracks?"

Acquiring Rail Corridors: A How-To Manual , Chapter 6, "Can You Take Advantage of Railbanking?"

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Additional Resources

The Surface Transportation Board's public information on rails-to-trails


Corridor Research

Active vs. Abandoned Corridors

Explore the latest resources on this topic:

Corridor Research in RTC TrailBlog
Corridor Research in the Library

The first step in your search is to determine the corridor status—does the Surface Transportation Board (STB) recognize the corridor as "active" or "abandoned?"

A line can be ACTIVE if:

  • Trains are running and the railroad is profitable—Consider Rail-with-Trail
  • Trains are using it, but the line is not profitable—Railbanking may be an option
  • Trains are not using it — Railbanking
  • The railroad is undergoing abandonment proceedings with the Surface Transportation Board—ACT NOW: Railbanking

A line is ABANDONED when:

The railroad has applied to the STB for abandonment authorization, the STB has issued an order authorizing abandonment of the line, and the railroad has notified the STB that is has consummated the abandonment authorization.

The Surface Transportation Board:

The STB posts information about railroad abandonments on its Web site. Their searchable database holds full text records of filings (submitted by railroads, independent buyers, trail groups, etc.) and subsequent decisions administered by the STB. To locate filings or decisions related to a specific corridor, visit the STB Web site and follow these steps:

  1. On the top menu bar, scroll over E-LIBRARY and choose "Filings" or "Decisions and Notices."
  2. You can view posted filings and decisions by date, or click on "Full Text Search at the top of the screen to search by keywords.
  3. On the "Full Text Search" screen, choose "AB" from the first dropdown menu box to the right of "Docket #." In the bottom search box, enter keywords that are relevant to the corridor you are researching; county and state names will usually yield appropriate results.

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