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The merger of Conrail and CSX Corp. has left the future of the Southern Tier rail line in limbo.

The Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board had been negotiating with Conrail to buy the line, between Hornell and Corry, Pa., on behalf of local industrial development agencies. Those talks broke off when a connecting line from Corry to Meadville, Pa., was sold to a group with financial backing from CSX.

Southern Tier West Executive Director Donald Rychnowski Wednesday said the discussions had recently picked up again, although his organization was now bargaining for another private short-line railroad operator to buy the line.

"We are unsure what this new wrinkle means," he said. "We are trying to get a hold of officials from both Conrail and CSX to get a determination."

The initial move to buy the local line was launched five years ago, after Conrail announced it would abandon that stretch of track. A handful of manufacturers in the Jamestown area still depend on rail service to receive raw materials and ship out their products.

Rychnowski said: "Historically, rail service is important here, but there is more. Nationally, areas with through railroad service grow faster than those that don't have it. "We are trying to preserve this line to provide options for our businesses in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Steuben Counties," he added.

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