Short Line Building Traffic on ex-CSX Branch

A short line railroad that took over a CSX branch in far southern Ohio this past May is looking to double its traffic over the next year to 18 months.

The Belpre Industrial Parkersburg Railroad is operating the 48-mile line between Parkersburg, West Virginia, and Relief, Ohio, via Marietta.

Casey Cathcart, president of owner Cathcart Rail Holdings, told Trains magazine that it has already managed to convert to rail some traffic that had been moving by truck or barge and is looking to make additional conversions.

The short line has also provided storage for tank cars owned by a refinery along the line and is looking to develop a tank car cleaning service.

The short line has a dozen customers, most of whom are in the business of metals, plastics, and petrochemicals and clustered in a 10-mile corridor along the Ohio side of the Ohio River.

Cathcart believes the Marcellus and Utica shale gas fields are the key to growth in the region.

“We’re all of the opinion that over the next 10 to 20 years there’s going to be a massive manufacturing boom throughout this region as a result of petrochemicals and plastics,” Cathcart said.

That could lead to the development of several parcels along the railroad.

The track on the former 39-mile CSX Marietta Subdivision is welded rail. The line features some street running in Marietta and crosses the Ohio River on substantial 4,300-foot bridge located on the 5.29-mile Parkersburg Running Track.

Whereas CSX served those shippers five days a week, BIPR has increased service to daily.

BIPR employs and leases three GP38-3 locomotives painted gray and black with a gold stripe. A fourth locomotive is expected to arrive shortly.

Cathcart Rail also operates a railcar repair business in Bucyrus.

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