W&W Carload Traffic Rose 9% in 2020

A short line railroad that serves West Virginia reports that its carload traffic grew by 9 percent in 2020.

The Winchester & Western, a 100-mile short line owned by OmniTRAX that also has trackage in Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, acknowledged that its growth was below expectations.

But railroad officials said they weren’t expecting a pandemic to depress traffic last year and that despite it the W&W was able to do better than the 12 percent carload volume loss year that the Association of American  Railroads reported occurred nationally.

OmniTRAX officials attributed the traffic growth to their efforts to work closely with shippers, making operational changes that improved service, bringing more technology and sophistication to customer service, and joining forces with local economic development officials to identify and promote rail-served sites.

“We have pretty high expectations,” says Peter Touesnard, chief commercial officer for OmniTRAX. “We probably see another 30 percent growth on this railroad over the next three to four years.”

This year the W&W is projected to handle 20,000 cars. Last year it hauled 17,500 cars.

To grow traffic the W&W plans to convert property along its lines to rail-served facilities. Among the planned projects are rebuilding a dormant spur track and repurposing it as a transload center and identifying greenfield sites that can be developed into new customer facilities.

Recently the W&W landed a $150 million Clorox facility in Berkeley County, West Virginia, that is expected to open in 2022.

In the same county, W&W was able to entice Procter & Gamble to divert some shipments from trucks to rail.

It also worked to deliver raw materials after Gulf Coast hurricanes last fall disrupted the P&G plant’s supply chain.

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