230 F.Supp. 456 (W.D.Tenn. 1964), Civ. A. 5192, I. C. C. v. Memphis Union Station Co.

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 5192
Citation:230 F.Supp. 456
Party Name:I. C. C. v. Memphis Union Station Co.
Case Date:June 12, 1964
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit, Western District of Tennessee

Page 456

230 F.Supp. 456 (W.D.Tenn. 1964)

INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, Plaintiff, City of Memphis, Tennessee, and Railway Labor Executives' Association, Intervenor-Plaintiffs,



Civ. A. No. 5192.

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division.

June 12, 1964

Page 457

Thomas L. Robinson, U.S. Atty., Memphis, Tenn., for plaintiff.

Patrick Johnson, Sr., City Atty., Memphis, Tenn., for City of Memphis, intervening petitioner.

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William F. Kirsch, Jr., Memphis, Tenn., for Railway Labor Executives' Ass'n, intervening petitioner.

Edward P. Russell, Memphis, Tenn., for Mumphis Union Station Co., Missouri Pac. R. Co., Union Ry. Co. and St. Louis S.W. Ry. Co.

John Mack, Memphis, Tenn., for Louisville & N. Ry. Co.

Jesse Johnson, Jr., Memphis, Tenn., for Illinois Cent. R. Co.

Harry Laughlin, Memphis, Teen., for Southern Ry. Co.

BAILEY BROWN, District Judge.

This is an action filed by the Interstate Commerce Commission (I.C.C.) against several railroads and a railroad passenger terminal operating company seeking an injunction requiring three of these railroads to continue to use this abandoned terminal and to cease using certain other passenger terminals. The City of Memphis (City) and the Railway Labor Executives' Association (Labor Association) have intervened as additional plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs rely on 49 U.S.C. § 1(18) which, in general, requires a certificate of public convenience and necessity before a line of railroad may be abandoned. They also rely on § 5(2) and 5(4) which provide, in general, that I.C.C. approval must be obtained before trackage rights on a line of railroad may be acquired.

For jurisdiction, plaintiffs rely on § 1(20), which authorizes the issuance of an injunction to prohibit an abandonment contrary to the provisions of § 1(18), and rely on § 5(8), which authorizes the issuance of an injunction to prohibit an acquisition of trackage rights contrary to the provisions of § 5(2) and § 5(4).

Plaintiffs seek both a temporary and a permanent injunction, and a hearing on the application for a temporary injunction has been had. At this hearing, defendants took the position that I.C.C. approval of what has been done was not necessary and that, in any event, a temporary injunction should not issue in this action.

The affidavits which have been filed and the evidence introduced at the hearing establish the relevant facts without dispute.

The defendant Memphis Union Station Company (Union Station), which owns and has operated this passenger terminal in the City, was formed in 1909, its stock being owned by the defendant Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company (L & N), the defendant Southern Railway Company (Southern), the defendant Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. (Mo Pac), and the defendant St. Louis Southwestern Railway Co., which has been referred to the record and which will be referred to herein as the 'Cotton Belt.' The terminal building, tracks and other facilities were completed in 1912. Thereafter these railroads, as tenants of their subsidiary terminal company, had used this passenger terminal down to around April 1, 1964, except that the Cotton Belt ceased operating passenger trains into the City in 1952.

The Union Station fronts on Calhoun Avenue to the north and stub-end terminal tracks, which Union Station used for receiving and discharging passengers and mail, for cleaning and minor repairs to passenger trains, and for switching and making up of passenger trains, are immediately to the south of the terminal building. There are about twelve of these tracks, all of which run north and south, each with a platform and overhanging shed. Immediately to the east of and parallel to these tracks is another series of tracks used for storage of cars and heavier repairs.

Passenger trains using the Union Station approach on a group of main line east-west tracks immediately to the south of the terminal property, running perpendicular to the terminal tracks. The Southern and L & N passenger trains, which enter the City from the east, run to the west of the Union Station on their main line tracks and then back into the station. The defendant

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Union Railway Co., a wholly owned 'belt-line' subsidiary of Mo Pac, owns two of these east-west main line tracks. Mo Pac trains, which enter the City from the west, run to the east of the station on one of these Union Railway tracks and then back into the station.

These main line east-west tracks to the south of the Union Station terminal are joined with the stub-end terminal tracks by two sets of lead tracks which are, looking from the south, arranged in an inverted Y. This arrangement enabled Southern and L & N trains to back in from the west over the west branch of the Y and to depart over the east branch and enabled Mo Pac trains to back in from the east over the east branch of the Y and to depart over the west branch.

To handle trains passing the Union Station on these main line tracks and to handle passenger trains backing in and departing from the station, an interlock system is used. Simply stated, the interlock is a system of centrally controlled switches and signals. These switches and signals are located on these eastwest main line tracks and also on the tracks on the terminal property. To illustrate how the interlock is used, a Southern passenger train approaching from the east enters the interlock area, continues to the west until its rear car is clear of the interlock switches, then a series of switches is thrown and signals are set so that the train may be backed across other main line tracks into the west branch of the Y lead tracks and then into the appropriate terminal stub-end track.

The interlock switches are electropneumatically controlled from a tower which has been owned and operated by the Union Station and receives its electricity and air from a power plant also owned and operated by the terminal company.

Subsequent to January 1, 1964, the I.C.C. received letters from employees of Union Station, advising that Southern, L & N and Mo Pac planned to terminate operations and their employment there effective April 1, 1964. Accordingly, on February 27, 1964, the I.C.C. directed letters to each of these defendant railroads, inquiring as to their intentions.

Thereafter, in an exchange of letters, Mo Pac advised the I.C.C. that the lease of the tenant lines at Union Station would expire on April 1, that Mo Pac intended to use passenger terminal facilities of its subsidiary Union Railway, and that in its opinion approval of this move by the I.C.C. was not necessary. L & N advised the I.C.C. that it likewise intended to end operations at Union Station with the expiration of the lease, which, in its opinion, did not require I.C.C. approval, and that it intended to use the terminal facilities of the defendant Illinois Central Railroad Co. (Illinois Central). Southern did not respond in writing to the I.C.C. initial inquiry or other correspondence, but counsel for Southern advised I.C.C. verbally that if Mo Pac and L & N terminated operations at Union Station, it would do the same and would make use of other terminal facilities.

The I.C.C. advised Mo Pac, Southern and L & N that in its informal opinion approval was necessary and invited them to apply for approval and to make a contemporaneous motion to dismiss the application for lack of jurisdiction.

By copies of this correspondence sent to them, Union Station, Union Railway, Cotton Belt and Illinois Central were informed of the position of the I.C.C. and of the Southern, L & N and Mo Pac. Cotton Belt advised the I.C.C. that it was not involved in the controversy because it had not operated passenger trains into the City since 1952 and was only a stockholder of Union Station.

Thereafter, on or about April 1, 1964, Southern Mo Pac and L & N terminated operations at Union Station.

Southern began using, as a passenger terminal, a building and adjoining tracks which it had last used for that purpose over fifty years ago but which it has been using and is still using as

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a freight depot. This building is 1.8 miles from Union Station. Mo Pac began routing its passenger trains over tracks to a building which it had existing rights to use through its subsidiary Union Railway. This building has not been used as a passenger terminal in over fifty years. It is likewise located on Calhoun Avenue and about four blocks west of Union Station. L. & N began using the terminal facilities of Illinois Central, which are comparable to those of Union Station. For many years these facilities and Union Station have been the only passenger terminal facilities in use in the City. The Illinois Central terminal is likewise located on Calhoun Avenue (about two blocks west of Union Station), and its terminal stub-end tracks also come in from the south and are connected with these same east-west main line tracks. To enter the terminal, L & N trains, approaching from the east on its main line, run past Union Station and continue on its main line to a point west of the Illinois Central terminal. Then the trains are backed, using a system of switches, off the main line and onto the...

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