Grand River Railway Getting Set to Start Rolling

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Work continues to put back into service a 2.56-mile rail line in Lake County that has been dormant since 2002.

The Grand River Railway this week had track equipment out on the former Baltimore & Ohio track in Painesville (top photo).

Also in operation was a tie inserter while a string of 18-to 50-foot covered hoppers of various companies occupied the tracks (bottom photo).

Officials of the GRR hope to become operational by the middle of this month.

Led by partners Terry L. Feichtenbiner, Tom Nord and David Kelsch, the GRR expects to carry freight from a Morton Salt plant at the end of the line near Grand River Village. The GRR may also seek to do business with other industries along the route.

Last December the Surface Transportation Board approved the GRR’s request to become a common carrier as well as to acquire the former-B&O tracks from CSX. GRR completed the purchase of the track from CSX for $1.6 million in late March.

CSX had received STB approval in early 2003 to end service on the line, which it subsequently reclassified as industry track.

Feichtenbiner told the News-Herald of Willoughby that he first learned of the ex-B&O line in 2003 when he was with the Ohio Central. The Ohio Rail Development Commission had approached the OC about operating the line.

Although that idea never panned out, Feichtenbiner said that he began working to revive the ex-B&O spur after leaving the OC in 2009.

He teamed up with Nord and Kelsch to form the Great Lakes Port Corp., which would operate under the Grand River Railway name.

Feichtenbiner said it took six years to complete all the work involved in getting the spur to the point where it was ready to operate. He said that 1,700 to 1,800 ties needed to be replaced.

“The railroad will be in good solid shape before we operate and don’t want to have derailments and we want it to look nice,” Feichtenbiner told the News-Herald. “We want it to appear obviously improved for the local community so they realize a benefit and not a detraction.”

Workers in recent weeks have been cleaning brush and trees off the tracks and marking locations where ties need to be replaced or repaired.

“We have done a first pass on the entire railroad to mark what we think are the most offending ties,” Feichtenbiner said.

Great Lakes Port is based in Poland, Ohio, but Feichtenbiner said it plans to move its offices to Grand River Village. GRR will interchange cars with CSX in Painesville.

“Everyone knows there is a tremendously large amount of industry in the Grand River and Fairport Harbor area. All of that industry will be part of our customer base,” Feichtenbiner said. “We’ll have two locomotives here and we will haul cars that may or may not be owned or leased by the customers.”

To get up and running the railroad has worked with local governments along  the route and with the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority.

“As commerce increases, the local amount of revenue increases as well along with taxes collected and it brings good things to the community and brings more life,” Feichtenbiner said.

Photographs by Jeff Troutman

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One Response to “Grand River Railway Getting Set to Start Rolling”

  1. Dave Cool Says:

    Cingarulations for reviving this railroad! As a rail fan I am looking forward to watching the operations for many years.

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