The region's rail shippers are making a push to oust incumbent Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad and go with a new player.

The region's rail shippers are making a push to oust incumbent Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad and go with a new player.

The Coos-Siskiyou Shippers Coalition said Wednesday it has filed an emergency Petition for Alternative Rail Service with the Surface Transportation Board to allow West Texas & Lubbock Railway and Yreka Western to operate the Siskiyou Summit line.

CORP ended southbound service over the Siskiyous between Ashland and Weed, Calif., last winter and reduced northbound service from Weed to Ashland to two days a week from five. Rather than pay rate increases of 300 percent, CORP's largest over-the-summit customer, Timber Products, began hauling loads of veneer on its trucks.

"This is especially good news to the shippers, travelers on I-5 and the communities of Northern California and Southern Oregon," shippers coalition spokesman Bob Ragon said in a statement. "The shippers are especially hopeful that the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad will stand aside and allow another short line operator to provide the needed service that they could not, or would not provide."

The coalition termed CORP's increased rates and reduced schedule "a de facto abandonment" resulting in a transportation and economic emergency for the shippers and the Yreka Western Railroad.

The shippers also released a study by Cal State-Chico economics professor David Gallo, who estimated the impact of CORP not operating the Siskiyou line to be $9.1 million annually. The study showed $6.7 million in added fuel costs and $1.3 million in increased road and highway maintenance costs as well $1.1 in environmental and truck-related highway injuries.

Should the Surface Transportation Board rule in favor of the shippers, West Texas & Lubbock Railway, a subsidiary of Permian Basin Railway which operates several small lines in the Midwest, would handle the south end of the line in cooperation with Yreka Western Railroad.

An STB ruling could be made in October, Ragon said.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.