A group of conservationists and ranchers are asking federal transportation officials to deny a permit for a $400 million railroad that would serve a proposed coal mine near the Montana-Wyoming border.

Yesterday's request to the Surface Transportation Board comes after sponsors of the Tongue River Railroad Co. last month sought to suspend the permitting process for the 42-mile line.

Railroad representatives cited a weak coal market and delays in Arch Coal Co.'s planned Otter Creek mine near Ashland.

Northern Plains Resource Council and the Rocker Six Cattle. Co. are opposed to the railroad, first proposed in 1983.

They told the transportation board it's time to kill the project so landowners no longer have to worry about their property being condemned to make way for the line.