Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad (2001)
|Headquarters||Falconer, New York|
|Locale||Northwest Pennsylvania and Western New York|
|Dates of operation||2001–|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||330 miles (530 km)|
The Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad (reporting mark WNYP) is a short-line railroad that operates freight trains in Western New York and Northwest Pennsylvania, United States. The company is controlled by the Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad, with which it does not connect. It started operations in 2001 on the Southern Tier Extension, a former Erie Railroad line between Hornell and Corry, owned by the public Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben Southern Tier Extension Railroad Authority (STERA). Through acquisitions and leases, the line was extended from Corry to Meadville in 2002 and to Oil City in 2006, and in 2007 the WNY&P leased and sub-leased portions of the north-south Buffalo Line, a former Pennsylvania Railroad line mostly built by a predecessor of the defunct Western New York and Pennsylvania Railway. The two lines cross at Olean.
The WNY&P operates a system centered on Olean, where it operates the ex-Erie yard just west of the crossing of its two main lines. The Southern Tier Extension heads east to the Norfolk Southern Railway's (NS's) Southern Tier Line at Hornell and west to NS at Meadville, with a branch continuing to the Oil City area. The WNY&P's segment of the Buffalo Line stretches north to Machias, a junction with the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad (B&P), and south over Keating Summit to Driftwood, which the B&P and NS both serve. Other connections include the Canadian Pacific Railway at Hornell, B&P at Salamanca and Corry, New York and Lake Erie Railroad at Waterboro, and Oil Creek and Titusville Lines at Rouseville. The NYLE connection has been out of service for decades; as it stands, the NYLE stops at a dead end several miles north of the WNY&P track. The NYLE has expressed interest in rehabilitating the line and restoring the connection.
Since 2001, when the WNY&P began operation of the Southern Tier Extension from Corry PA to Hornell NY per a sub-lease with Norfolk Southern, local service levels have increased from less than one to several trains per day. NS retains overhead trackage rights and operates daily coal trains over the line from Southwestern Pennsylvania to Upstate New York and New England. WNY&P business on the Buffalo Line includes hauling coal from Emporium (north of Driftwood) to a power plant at Jamestown (west of Olean). By 2012, all coal trains had ceased to run over the WNYP due to the closure or conversion of coal fired power plants in the north east.
The New York and Erie Railroad completed its line between Piermont and Dunkirk, New York via Hornell and Salamanca in 1851. The 1852 completion of the Hornell-Buffalo Buffalo and New York City Railroad turned the Hornell-Dunkirk line into a branch. A line extending west from Salamanca was completed by the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad (A&GW) to Jamestown in 1860, Corry in 1861, Meadville in 1862, and into Ohio in 1863, finally reaching Dayton in 1864. The same company opened a branch from Meadville via Franklin to Oil City by 1866. Except for a realignment east of Corry, built by the Columbus and Erie Railroad by 1908, the A&GW eventually became the main line of the Erie Railroad to Chicago. It was retained by Conrail in 1976, though it ceased to be a primary route for through trains, and the portions between Corry and Jamestown and between Olean and Hornell were taken out of service in 1991.
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) authorized Conrail to abandon part of this line, which it called the Meadville Line, between Corry and Meadville in August 1994, effective at the end of the month. The on-line municipalities of Corry, Union City, Cambridge Springs, Saegertown, and Meadville filed an offer of financial assistance that month to purchase the line for its net liquidation value of $2.9 million, and the abandonment authority was rescinded. Through the newly created Northwest Pennsylvania Rail Authority they acquired the property on October 31, 1995, after some delay, for operation by the Oil Creek and Titusville Lines (OCTL), and operations began soon after. But the courts ruled in August 1996 that the ICC had no authority to force the sale, since they had authorized abandonment again in April 1995, and so the line was to pass back to Conrail, who wanted to keep it from falling into the hands of a competitor. In the midst of talks between Conrail and the two companies that were buying its assets, CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway, the authority reached an agreement with Conrail in June 1997, allowing it to keep the line.
Norfolk Southern (NS), successor to Conrail's lines in the immediate area, agreed in June 1998 to place the Corry-Hornell "Southern Tier Extension" back in service, in exchange for certain financial incentives. This June 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was memorialized in the Surface Transportation Board's record of Decision in July 1998. The New York Legislature then created the Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Steuben Southern Tier Extension Railroad Authority (STERA) in June 2000 in order to acquire the New York portion of the line and lease it back to NS. This was done in February 2001, and on April 23, the newly created WNY&P, a subsidiary of the Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad, sub-leased the line from Norfolk Southern and began operating the line. Except for a short segment near the Buffalo Line crossing at Olean, which NS did not sub-lease to WNY&P (but for which Norfolk Southern did provide overhead trackage rights to WNY&P), the WNY&P sub-leased the line from Corry PA to Hornell NY from Norfolk Southern.
Looking to the west, the WNY&P acquired the Corry-Meadville line from the Northwest Pennsylvania Rail Authority in January 2002, for $1 and the cancellation of the authority's $1.9 million debt. The authority had borrowed the money in the 1990s from NORPA, then a subsidiary of the Delaware Otsego Corporation, to pay for the acquisition in conjunction with $1 million from the state. (Delaware Otsego financed the purchase to preserve a possible connection between its subsidiary New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway and CSX Transportation in the case of a Norfolk Southern Railway/Conrail merger.) The WNY&P bought NORPA in 2001, allowing it to cancel the debt. At the same time as it acquired the line, the WNY&P replaced OCTL as operator. Thanks to state and federal funding, the WNY&P began repairing the out-of-service parts of the line in August 2002, and by fall 2003 it had been sufficiently rehabilitated to allow full operations. In its agreement with WNY&P in which it sub-leased operating rights to WNY&P for the portion of the line from Corry PA to Hornell NY, NS retained overhead trackage rights for that portion of the line, allowing NS trains to enter or exit that portion of the Southern Tier Extension operated by the WNY&P at either Hornell (Southern Tier Line), Olean (Buffalo Line), Corry (Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad trackage rights), and Meadville (Meadville Line). This provided a bypass around Buffalo for freight including Upstate New York- and New England-bound Monongahela coal.
In December 2005, the WNY&P expanded further with the lease from NS of the ex-Erie Franklin Secondary and associated lines between Meadville and Rouseville, just north of Oil City. This connected the WNY&P directly to industries in the Franklin-Oil City area, and indirectly to Titusville via Oil Creek and Titusville Lines. By the end of 2006, NS decided to discontinue operations north of Driftwood, Pennsylvania on the Buffalo Line, a line that the Pennsylvania Railroad had acquired through its control of the former Western New York and Pennsylvania Railway and Philadelphia and Erie Railroad. The line north of Machias would be leased to the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad, which then had trackage rights, and the remainder between Machias and Driftwood was to become a WNY&P operation. STERA acquired the line between Machias and the state line in February 2007, appending this portion of the line to the arrangement specified in its June 1998 MOU with Norfolk Southern. STERA then leased the line between Machias and the state line back to Norfolk Southern, which in turn sub-leased it to WNY&P. Norfolk Southern leased the line from the state line to Driftwood PA directly to WNY&P. On August 4 the WNY&P took over operations between Machias and Driftwood. The sub-lease of the Machias to state line portion of the Buffalo line also included the sub-lease of the small portion of the Southern Tier Extension near the crossing at Olean (the "Olean Rail Yard"), and installed WNY&P as operator of a short branch to Farmers Valley, Pennsylvania. The latter had been built, in part, by the Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern Railroad, and acquired by the Pennsylvania after that company ceased operations in 1947.
In 2009 the Buffalo Line was used to film scenes in the film Unstoppable. Filming took place over three months during the daylight hours while the railroad ran its regular services at night. "It stretched our assets to the limit," said Carl Belke, the railroad's chief operating officer. "We had all hands on deck."
- Roy Blanchard, Trains, Pennsylvania's Colorful Commerce, June 2008, pp. 36–37
- Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, accessed December 2008
- Miller, Rick (January 20, 2017). "Buffalo to Jamestown passenger line picking up steam". The Gowanda Press. p. 5,20. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- Hahn, Tim (January 27, 2008). "Railroad Revived". Erie Times-News. pp. 1B.
- Christopher T. Baer, PRR Chronology (Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society), accessed December 2008
- Interstate Commerce Commission, 33 Val. Rep. 1: Valuation Docket No. 1069, Erie Railroad Company and its Leased Lines (1930)
- Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 33388 (Sub-No. 91), February 2, 2001
- Erie Times-News, Rail Line to Get a Test Run, November 10, 1995
- Surface Transportation Board, Docket No. AB-167 (Sub-No. 1139), February 10, 1997
- Philadelphia Inquirer, Ruling Threatens Rail Line, August 25, 1996, p. B6
- Erie Times-News, CSX Chairman Says Meadville-Corry Line Can Be Kept Open, March 21, 1997
- Tim Hahn, Erie Times-News, Corry-Meadville Rail Deal Reached with Conrail, June 3, 1997
- John Bartlett, Erie Times-News, Western New York, Northwest Pennsylvania Rail Officials to Discuss Link, May 25, 2001
- Railroad Retirement Board, Employer Status Determination: Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, LLC, July 23, 2001
- Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 34017, April 30, 2001
- Bill Stephens, The Susie-Q Saga, Trains, January 1998, p. 47
- John Bartlett, Erie Times-News, Railroad Company No Longer Seeks Pennsylvania Approval for New Line, August 23, 2001
- Donna Snyder, The Buffalo News, Rail Line Purchase to Improve Freight Service, January 12, 2002
- Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 34176, March 18, 2002
- Southern Tier Extension Rail Authority, History, accessed December 2008
- Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 34470, March 9, 2004
- Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 34801, January 18, 2006
- Gushard, Keith (December 22, 2005). "Meadville will be a railroad town again: Railroad companies expanding operations through Meadville". The Meadville Tribune.
- Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 35044, August 14, 2007
- Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 35019, June 1, 2007
- Zimmermann, Karl (2012). "Where Alcos Tough It Out". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing. 72 (6): 44.