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Railroad corporations cannot acquire real estate property except under specific authority of either statute or their charters and for the exclusive purposes stated in the latter. Without special authority, railroad corporations cannot alienate property acquired under the right of eminent domain.
Railroad corporations can acquire title to real property by any of the following methods:
The interest or estate acquired in land by a railroad corporation may be construed to be either "fee simple" or an "easement."
The estate or interest acquired by a railroad corporation and conveyed to it for a right of way is generally construed to be an easement, but a railroad may, unless prohibited by statute or its charter, acquire fee simple in the right of way in cases where:
Generally, the question as to whether a railroad corporation takes a fee or an easement depends on a combined analysis of the following:
In many cases, courts draw a distinction between deeds conveying land to a railroad corporation for "right-of-way purposes" and deeds conveying land for "other railroad purposes." Based on this distinction, courts have shown the tendency to take the view that, irrespective of the language being used, deeds conveying land for right-of-way purposes convey nothing but an "easement", and that deeds conveying land for "other railroad purposes" may be held to have conveyed a "fee simple" if language appropriate to that result is employed therein.
In examining title to lands derived from a railroad grant, it is necessary to ascertain:
A deed to a railroad corporation on full consideration, purporting to convey absolute fee simple, and containing neither words of limitation nor reversionary clause vests fee absolute in the railroad corporation in the absence of any statutory or charter prohibition.
In the treatment of an easement interest held by railroad corporation, consideration must be given to the following:
A conveyance of railroad property into another railroad entity requires:
At the outset it must be emphasized that only an easement can be abandoned. It is not possible to abandon a fee holding.
From the title insurance point of view, abandonment by a railroad corporation of any part of its right of way (easement) must be supported by:
Note: Prior to issuing a policy on an interest based on abandonment of easement rights, you must obtain approval from your appropriate Stewart representative.
Whenever there appears in a chain of title an instrument, immediate or remote, creating an interest in a railroad corporation it becomes necessary to determine:
Note: Interstate Commerce Act prohibits a railroad from abandoning any part of its railroad lines until it has obtained either a certification from the Interstate Commerce Commission permitting such abandonment (49 U.S.C.A. sec 10505 sec 10903), or and exemption order under 49 U.S.C.A. sec 10505 exempting the railroad from obtaining an order of abandonment.
Upon the abandonment of an easement held by a railroad corporation it becomes necessary to ascertain who becomes the owner of the underlying fee, that is, the owner of the reversion.
The determination of the reversion ownership will depend upon the following factors:
Upon due consideration of all the above factors or conditions, the ownership of the reversion will be determined and title to the abandoned land is vested in one of the following: