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ANACONDA — Passengers on the Copper King Express excursion train may have an unexpected stopover until an agreement can be reached on the use of 1,000 feet of track in the Berkeley Pit area.

The train has stopped at the pit since it began running routes between Anaconda and Butte in May, but passengers this past weekend got off the train at Durant Canyon instead.

The sliver of track in question belongs to BNSF Railway.

Paul McCarthy, president of Rarus Railway, which owns the Copper King Express, said the company has used the short stretch of track for freight operations since the early 1900s and didn't think there would be an issue with passenger traffic.

BNSF Railway officials, however, want a trainage rights agreement, as required by federal law, before allowing the passenger train on the track.

"We're not trying to be hard-nosed about it or anything," said Kelly Duryea, BNSF's general director of transportation in Billings. "I assured Paul we can get it done."

She hoped to resolve the issue in a week or so.

"The bottom line is, we're going to work out an agreement," Duryea said. "We'll get that taken care of to make it a win-win situation for everybody."

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