Evaluating Whether a Railroad Is An Abandoned Property In Pennsylvania

In Buffalo Township v. Jones, 571 Pa. 637, 646, 813 A.2d 659, 664 (2002), the Supreme Court held that in evaluating whether a railroad abandoned property, a court must consider "whether there was an intention to abandon the property interest, together with external acts by which such intention is carried into effect." This may consist of affirmative acts that render use of the easement impossible or some physical obstruction of it; mere nonuse by a railroad is not abandonment. Id. Filing with the federal authority for permission to abandon is not enough in itself; this may evidence intent to abandon, but it must be accompanied by external acts. Lacy. Receiving a PUC certificate to abandon rail highway crossings is not dispositive of whether a railroad has abandoned a right-of-way; the certificate without more does not constitute abandonment. Thompson v. Maryland & Pennsylvania R.R. Pres. Soc'y, 417 Pa. Super. 216, 612 A.2d 450 (Pa. Super. 1992). In Buffalo Township the court held that abandonment of a railroad line pursuant to federal law does not constitute termination of a railroad right-of-way. Under Section 2402 of the County Code a "right-of-way of a railroad company shall not be acquired or occupied without the consent of the company owning or operating or in possession of said railroad."