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UTAH WESTERN RAILROAD MAY BUY IDAHO RAIL LINE

A Utah rail company has expressed interest in buying a 71-mile northern Idaho rail line that Union Pacific Railroad Co. plans to abandon.

Salt Lake City-based Utah Western Railroad Co. has asked Union Pacific for freight information and other data to determine whether the Wallace branch line can be profitable."This is the only possible buyer so far," Union Pacific spokesman Ed Trandell said.

Last month, Union Pacific won federal approval to abandon the line in July. The company said the rail line between Plummer and Mullan is unprofitable. The line provides freight service to mines and lumber producers.

Utah Western President Barry Maxfield said he would decide sometime this month on whether to purchase the Wallace branch.

Utah Western, a rail equipment leasing company, would likely operate freight service as well as limited passenger service to northern Idaho tourist attractions.