CML Metals/Black Iron LLC/Utah Iron LLC

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This page was last updated on December 24, 2020.

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CML Railroad

CML Railroad (CMLR) is a railroad operating over the Comstock Subdivision of Union Pacific's Cedar City Branch, between the re-opened iron mines at Iron Mountain, and UP's Cedar City Branch at Iron Springs, Utah. Rail access to the nation's railroad network is provided via UP's Cedar City Branch between Cedar City and the Salt Lake City-to-Los Angeles mainline at Lund, Utah.

(CML = Comstock Mountain Lion, the name of the mining claim where the mine is located.)

CMLR leases from Union Pacific, a rail line known as the Comstock Subdivision, extending between milepost 0.1 at or near Iron Springs and milepost 14.7 at or near Iron Mountain, a distance of approximately 14.6 miles in Iron County, Utah.

The original lease by Union Pacific, which went into effect on August 22, 2006, was to the PIC Railroad, which on the same day assigned the lease to Iron Bull Railroad, which later assigned the lease to Utah Southern Railroad. PIC Railroad derived its name from its original owner, Palladon Iron Company. In January 2010, control and ownership of Palladon Iron Company passed to CML Metals Corporation.

(Read more about Utah Southern Railroad, which operated UP's Comstock Subdivision from 2008 to late 2011)

CML Railroad is wholly owned by CML Metals Corporation. Both CML Metals and its subsidiary, CML Railroad, derive their name from the major iron ore deposit in the Iron Mountain region, known as Comstock Mountain Lion.

CMLR began operations on December 15, 2011 and operates 14.6 miles of railroad track. CMLR transfers iron ore from the Iron Mountain mine to the Union Pacific rail line where it interchanges with Union Pacific. Annual freight traffic is about 2 million metric tons of iron ore. It has two employees and they began being compensated November 1, 2011.

November 1, 2011
CML Railroad started operations and became an employer under the Railroad Retirement Act. (Railroad Retirement Board decision BCD 13-05, dated February 27, 2013)

December 15, 2011
"In a filing with the STB, PIC informed the STB that effective December 15, 2011, PIC Railroad, Inc. adopted the business name of Comstock Mountain Lion Railroad. The letter also informs the STB that effective December 15, 2011 CML Metals Corporation, the sole shipper on the Comstock Subdivision, terminated its rail shipping contract with Utah Southern and requested that PIC Railroad, d/b/a CML Railroad, operate the line in fulfillment of its common carrier obligations." (Railroad Retirement Board decision BCD 13-05, dated February 27, 2013)

On January 11, 2012, CML Railroad (CMLR) officially took over the operation of the rail line (UP's Comstock Subdivision), leased from Union Pacific, for the purposes of moving unit trains of iron ore from the Comstock Mountain Lion mine, to the interchange and connection with Union Pacific at Iron Springs, Utah.

In September 2012, the change of operators was covered in the public record, in STB Finance Docket 35558, approved September 2012. The document summarizes the two operating agreements (2008 and 2011), the variations in company names, and the federal suit that was filed in December 2011, and set aside in June 2012. (Surface Transportation Board Finance Docket 35558, decided September 20, 2012, service date September 21, 2012)

As of August 2013, CML Metals operated three 92-car trains every week, from Iron Springs to the Port of Long Beach, California. All trains, loaded and empty travel directly between Iron Springs and Long Beach, by way of UP's former LA&SL route. The iron ore is no longer shipped from either Stockton or Richmond.

October 18, 2014
Due to falling prices of iron ore on the world market, the Iron Mountain Project was shut down for an indefinite period. (Palladon Ventures press release dated October 18, 2014)

May 5, 2015
All of the assets of CML Metals were sold to Black Iron LLC, a new company incorporated on April 14, 2015 for the purpose of assuming ownership of CML Metals.

June 1, 2017
Black Iron LLC declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

September 29, 2020
Black Iron LLC was reorganized as Utah Iron LLC on September 29, 2020. Iron ore shipments resumed in October 2020, using retired former BNSF GE locomotives owned by SA Recycling, Black Iron's parent company.

(The four former CML SD40s were out of service and for sale. No buyers were found due to the lack of spare arts for the locomotives' unique Woodward CLC control system. As of May 2021 only one of the four was operational, and was being used to switch cars at Iron Springs, and at the mine. The four SD40s were found to have limited power on the grades on UP's Comstock Subdivision.)

(Nathan Geoghan wrote on February 27, 2021: "Woodward CLC is a type of Dash 3 style control system.  Woodward hasn't supported it in years, making parts for it scarce.  All of Helm's 6000 series and 6500 series units were rebuilt with it, as were a few other locomotive groups.  Very few of them survive to this day, with most being scrapped due to high cost to replace the system.")


Date To
HLCX 6060 SD40-3 MPI 9022 32411 7932-12 Oct 1966   1
HLCX 6064 SD40-3 CR 6340 31332 7862-48 Mar 1966   2
HLCX 6079 SD40-3 UP 4062 35733 7214-09 Jan 1970   3
HLCX 6090 SD40-3 CN 5174 A2433 C333 Apr 1971   4


  1. HLCX 6060 was built as UP 3059, retired by UP and sold to Morrison Knudsen (MKCX) 8304, 23 August 1989; rebuilt to SD40M-2 by Morrison Knudsen, Mountaintop, Pennsylvania, completed as Motive Power International (MPI) 9022 on 12 September 1990; sold to Helm Financial in February 1996; rebuilt to SD40M-3 by Boise Locomotive Co., Boise, Idaho, completed as Helm Leasing (HLCX) 6060 on 15 April 1996.
  2. HLCX 6064 was built as Pennsylvania 6087; renumbered to Penn Central 6087; renumbered to Conrail 6340; rebuilt to SD40M-3 by VMV Enterprises in November 1996; sold to Helm 6064.
  3. HLCX 6079 was built as MP 762, renumbered to MP 3062, renumbered to UP 4062; retired by UP and leased to NdeM in November 1989 to February 1991; stored unserviceable at Fort Worth, Texas; sold to Helm Financial on 26 May 1993; reconditioned by AMF, Montreal, Quebec, completed as Helm Leasing (HLCX) 4062 on 7 October 1993; renumbered to Helm Leasing (HLCX) 6079; rebuilt to SD40M-3.
  4. HLCX 6090 was built as Canadian National 5174, retired by CN on 18 December 1995; sold to Helm 6090 in May 1996


Reports by interested persons to various email discussion groups, including LocoNotes and RR Rosters on

Reports by interested persons to various groups on Facebook.