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PENNSYLVANIA PUC v. UNITED STATES

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


April 13, 1970

PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION et al., Plaintiffs, City of Pittsburgh and City of Philadelphia, Intervening Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Interstate Commerce Commission and Penn Central Transportation Co., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON

OPINION OF THE COURT

NEALON, District Judge.

This is an action filed July 18, 1969, to annul and set aside a July 11, 1969, decision *fn1" of the Interstate Commerce Commission (Commission), entered after hearing in a formal investigation conducted by the Commission, allowing Penn Central Transportation Company (hereinafter Penn Central) to discontinue two passenger trains, one operating daily in each direction between New York, New York, and St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiffs and intervening plaintiffs are State agencies, municipalities and representatives of railroad labor organizations that were parties in opposition to the proposed train discontinuance in the Commission proceeding brought to this Court for review. Defendants are the United States of America, Interstate Commerce Commission, and Penn Central.

 The Commission's decision was entered under Section 13a(1) of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. § 13a(1), as the involved passenger trains operate from a point in one State to a point in another State. Chief Judge Sheridan, after hearing witnesses for plaintiffs and the railroad, entered a temporary restraining order the evening of July 18, 1969, preventing discontinuance of the trains.

 A Three-Judge Court was duly convened. The railroad moved that the temporary restraining order be dissolved. Meanwhile, plaintiffs and intervening plaintiffs petitioned the Commission for reconsideration of the agency's report. After hearings, the motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order was denied.

 The petition for reconsideration was denied by Division 3 of the Interstate Commerce Commission, acting as an Appellate Division, on September 19, 1969 (served September 23, 1969). Plaintiffs and intervening plaintiffs thereupon filed an amended complaint with this Court, and the agency's action became ripe for judicial review. 49 U.S.C. § 17(9).

 Penn Central operates two pairs of trains daily in each direction between New York, New York, and St. Louis, Missouri. These two sets of trains are known as the "Penn Texas" (No. 3 westbound and No. 4 eastbound) and the "Spirit of St. Louis" (No. 31 westbound and No. 30 eastbound). The trains operate via intermediate points, such as Trenton, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Terre Haute and Indianapolis, Indiana and Effingham, Illinois, a distance of about 1,050 miles in each direction. Both trains have coaches, sleeping car, and dining car equipment.

 The instant proceeding involves the proposed discontinuance of Train No. 3 (the westbound Penn Texas) and Train No. 30 (the eastbound Spirit of St. Louis). Penn Central, or its predecessor, Pennsylvania Railroad Company, for a number of years has attempted to discontinue two of its four trains operating between St. Louis and New York. It first attempted to discontinue Trains Nos. 30 and 31 by a Section 13a(1) notice filed October 25, 1964. After hearing and decision in an investigation instituted by the Commission, discontinuance was denied and continued train operation required for the maximum one-year statutory period provided by Section 13a(1). Pennsylvania R. Co. Discontinuance of Trains, 328 I.C.C. 921 (1965). The second attempt to discontinue Trains Nos. 30 and 31 was likewise unsuccessful, the Commission again requiring continued operation for a year. Pennsylvania R. Co. Discontinuance of Trains, 330 I.C.C. 458 (1966). The carrier then proposed to discontinue Trains Nos. 3 and 30 by notice filed December 20, 1967, but subsequently withdrew its notice prior to the hearings. (Finance Docket No. 24873). The fourth attempt was also to discontinue Trains Nos. 3 and 30, and the Commission denied discontinuance after hearing and decision in its investigation. Penn Central Co. Discontinuance of Trains, 333 I.C.C. 736 (1968). This decision was by a divided two-to-one vote of the Commission's Division 3, and continued operation was ordered for a four-month period.

 The fifth attempt, which resulted in the decision and order (see footnote 1 above) allowing discontinuance of the two trains, gives rise to this action. Penn Central filed its notice proposing discontinuance of the trains prior to 11:00 A.M. on February 18, 1969, stating that the discontinuance would become effective March 20, 1969, and setting forth a schedule of the trains which showed that the eastbound train started at 12:10 P.M. and the westbound train at 6:45 P.M. *fn2" The notice posted on February 17, and filed with the Commission prior to 11:00 A.M. on February 18, reads as follows:

 

"Notice of Proposed

 

Discontinuance of Service

 

"Penn Central Company * * * has filed a notice with the Interstate Commerce Commission of its intention to discontinue passenger trains No. 3 (The Penn Texas, westbound) and No. 30 (The Spirit of St. Louis, eastbound) between New York, New York and St. Louis, Missouri. Penn Central Company intends to discontinue these trains effective March 20, 1969.

 

"The schedules of trains No.s 3 and 30 and the places served by these trains are shown below:

  (Read Down) (Read Up) No. 3 No.30 Daily Local Time Daily v 6.45 P Lv. New York, N.Y. Ar. 9.20 A * * * * * * * * * 3.30 P Ar. St. Louis, Mo. Lv. 12.10 P * * * * * * * * *

19700413

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