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Federal board dismisses Montana coal railroad application

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal transportation panel has dismissed a proposal for a $400 million railroad that would have hauled coal from a mine near the Montana-Wyoming border.

Tuesday’s action by the Surface Transportation Board comes five months after the backers of the Tongue River Railroad suspended their application for the 42-mile line.

The board also turned down a request from southeastern Montana landowners who wanted to permanently block the railroad from re-applying for a permit.

Plans for the coal mine the railroad would have served were shelved in March, by bankrupt Arch Coal, Inc.

The company cited weak coal markets, a shortage of cash and an uncertain permitting outlook.

The Tongue River Railroad was sponsored by Arch, BNSF Railway and TRRC Financing.

It was first proposed more than three decades ago.

Related: Montana to create rail safety plan after critical audit

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