Property Management FAQ

1) What is the difference between an active railroad and railbanked line?

An “active railroad line is a railroad line which has not been authorized for abandonment or discontinuance of a service by the federal Surface Transportation Board (successor agency to the old Interstate Commerce Commission). The actual level of train movements on an “active” railroad line may vary from occasional to many trains per day.

A “railbanked” line is an inactive line (from which the tracks may or may not have been removed) which has been approved for railbanking and interim trail use by the Surface Transportation Board under the federal Trails Act (16 U.S.C. § 1247 (d)) or by the Vermont Secretary of Transportation under Vermont’s own railbanking statue (5 V.S.A. § 3408).

2) If I am buying a piece of property and the current owners have an agreement with State of Vermont – AOT; what is the process of getting this assigned?

Current owner needs to contact us 30-60 days prior to the sale of the property.

3) How do I know if my property is next to a state-owned railroad?

State of Vermont owns 4 “active” railroads and 4 “railbanked” lines. Please see the Railroad Network Map.

4) What are the guidelines in leasing a portion of the right-of-way?

Those who wish to lease a portion of state-owned railroad property may do so if VTrans, joined by the operating railroad if applicable, determines that the property is not needed for current or future railroad operations and/or other transportation needs, and if the property is not part of an active or abandoned railroad corridor, i.e. is an ancillary or isolated parcel. As a general practice VTrans will not grant a request to build a structure of any kind that is within 25 feet of the centerline of the tracks or to use land that is within 15 feet of the centerline of the track.

5) What are the guidelines of crossing the right-of-way?

It is the policy of VTrans to limit the conflicts along the state-owned railroads caused by vehicular, utility, pedestrian or other crossings. Those who wish to construct a new crossing (vehicular, pedestrian or utility) over or under state-owned railroad property may obtain a crossing license if VTrans, joined by the operating railroad if applicable, determines that the crossing will not affect current or future railroad operations or other transportation needs and there are no other viable options for property access. A request for a new at-grade crossing or to broaden use of an existing at-grade or farm crossing will not be considered unless the applicant demonstrates that construction of a grades separated crossing (i.e., an overpass or underpass) is either unreasonable or imprudent, and that the applicant has reasonably exhausted all efforts to obtain alternative access (e.g., by constructing a frontage road parallel to the railroad to connect to an existing road or crossing).

6) How do I submit a request?

General information/questions: Please see request form under Forms link

New Requests: Address a written request to: Vermont Agency of Transportation, Property Management, 1 National Life Drive, Montpelier, VT 05633-5001 and provide the following:

  • A picture, a location map and a plan or sketch of the area showing the property lines and identifying the abutters with the addresses of each adjacent property.
  • The distance to the closest fixed landmark along the railroad right-of-way (such as a railroad milepost, culvert, or railroad bridge abutment).
  • A copy of your deed to document ownership of your property adjacent to the state-owned railroad property.
  • A description of your intended use of the land or crossing and an explanation of the need.
  • Documentation of the ability to obtain the required general liability insurance. This can be difficult to obtain and may be expensive for crossing over an active line. Please contact our office for more information or insurance contacts.

7) What is the time frame once I submit a request?

Once we receive your request and fees, VTrans and the Operating Railroad (if applies) will need to review and approve your request. This can take anywhere from 9 to 12 months.

8) Are there fees to submit a request for a new agreement?

A non-refundable document preparation fee of $300.00 ($200 for amendments or assignments) is due at the time of your submittal. Additional fees (rent, recording) will be due at the time of the signing of the agreement. Annual rental rates are based on fair market value of the property (Please contact Rail Section, Property Management Unit for fee information).   Additional non-refundable document review fees will apply for agreements on an active line that will be due to the operating railroad.

9) How do I go about working within the Railroad right-of-way?

Prior to working within the state-owned railroad right-of-way (known as “foul space”) you must obtain clearance from Vtrans (Go to forms, use Railroad Worker Clearance Form). If you are a UTILITY company, you will need to submit either an Overhead Wire Crossing or Underground Crossing form along with the Railroad Worker Clearance form (Got to forms, OHW/UG Crossing Form). Railroad foul space is 25’ parallel to the centerline of the track, both left and right to the centerline of the track and includes the air space above the track.

On the day work is to be performed within a railroad foul space the work crew needs to:

  1. Contact the railroad dispatcher prior to entering the railroad foul space. The phone number will be provided in Section 1 by VTrans Rail Operations when the completed form is sent back to the work crew contact. If a flag person is present, the flag person needs to be asked if he/she has checked in with the railroad dispatcher. This must be done prior to anyone entering the railroad foul space.
  2. Identify work crew and refer to Railroad Worker Clearance Form number. This number will be in top right corner of completed form and provided by VTrans Rail Operations.
  3. Follow the railroad dispatcher’s instructions.
  4. At the end of the day, call the railroad dispatcher to identify that the work has ended and the work crew is clear of the railroad foul space. If a flag person is present, at the end of the day that person needs to contact the railroad dispatcher to identify that the work has ended and the work crew is clear of the railroad foul space.

ON THE OCCASION NO FLAG PERSON IS AVAILABLE DURING AN EMERGENCY, NATURAL DISASTER, OR TRACK FAILURE, the work crew shall still contact the railroad dispatcher immediately, or within 48 hours prior to entering the railroad foul space, to confirm their intended site visit.

If you have any questions concerning these procedures, contact VTrans Rail Section, Property Management unit.

10) Is insurance a requirement?

For Lease, Crossing, License, Master License Agreements, you will need the following insurance:

Active Railroad:
You will need to obtain General and Railroad Protective Liability insurance that additional insures State of Vermont and operating railroad, see below:

General - The policy shall be on an occurrence form and limits shall not be less than:

$1,000,000 Per Occurrence - Combined Single Limit
$2,000,000 General Aggregate
$2,000,000 Products/Completed Products Aggregate
$ 50,000 Fire Legal Liability

Railroad Protective - Such a policy must provide minimum limits of $2,000,000 per occurrence with an aggregate limit of $6,000,000 for the term of the policy.

Railbanked:
You will need to obtain General Insurance that additional insures State of Vermont, see below:

The policy shall be on an occurrence form and limits shall not be less than:

$1,000,000 Per Occurrence
$1,000,000 General Aggregate
$1,000,000 Products/Completed Operations Aggregate
$ 50,000 Fire/Legal Liability

More Questions or Need Additional Information: Contact the Policy, Planning and Intermodal Development Division, Rail Section, Property Management Chief at (802) 461-5971.