Do you own land along the inactive Metro-North Railroad in New York?


If you own land along the Metro-North railroad right of way you may be entitled to compensation for a taking of land due to the future rail-trail conversion.

Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation.


On April 30, 2021, Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company (“Metro North”) filed an Application for Discontinuance with the United States Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) to discontinue service over 41.1 miles of railroad line in Dutchess and Putnam Counties, NY.   The discontinuance begins in Beacon, NY, passes through Hopewell Junction and Brewster, NY and ends at the New York / Connecticut state line.  In that filing, Metro North indicated that it is seeking discontinuance authorization in order to render the portion of line from Beacon to the New York / Connecticut state line eligible for conversion into a recreational trail pursuant to the United States Trails Act. 

For a few years, there has been a slight delay in the proceedings at the STB.  We now believe the Housatonic Railroad Company, Inc. ("HRCC") and Metro-North have resolved their issues, which were delaying the rail-trail process.  The resolution mans the rail-trail conversion and request for trail use will now proceed.  In a filing on January 30, 2023 Housatonic noted "The Parties have now settled the issued railed in that Adverse Abandonment proceeding and have executed a Settlement Agreement, in which, among other items, HRCC has agreed to discontinue its common carrier rights and operations and to support Metro-North's request for interim trail use on the Beacon Line and to transfer its reactivation right related to the proposed trail use to Metro-North.  Through the recent filings we are confident a Notice of Interim Trail Use decision will be filed shortly.  Once this decision is filed, our office will be prepared to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims seeking compensation for landowners for a taking of their land by way of a blocking of their reversionary interests in the railroad corridor.  


See below for access to the recent Surface Transportation Board filings in this rail-trail conversion and a map filed showing the proposed abandonment and Empire State Trail rail-trail route.

What is the United States Trails Act?

The Trails Act is a federal program that permits the conversion of railroad lines into nature and hiking trails. In this instance, the trail would comprise a segment of New York’s Empire State Trail. 

If the STB permits a trail conversion, which we expect to occur in the near term, then this would potentially result in the triggering of a claim for money damages in your favor against the United States government. The claim results from the blocking of reversionary property rights in the railroad corridor. This taking would require the United States to pay you just compensation under the Constitution.  It is important to note that your claim would only be against the federal government and is NOT adverse to the Empire State Trail or an local entity sponsoring the trail.

The claim is based on New York property law.  An owner of land that abuts a public right of way (in this case a former railroad corridor) is presumed to own a portion of the land within the right of way, such that when the railroad was ever abandoned the land would revert to their ownership.  This is what should have occurred with respect to the land now comprising the trail.  However, as a result of the government’s authorization to convert the railroad to a recreational trail, this reversion was blocked and resulted in a taking of property.

Empire State Trail News

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