Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

5 Michigan Short Lines Being Sold

June 21, 2021

Five Michigan short line railroads are on track to be sold to a new owner.

Transportation Holdings recently told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board that it will acquire the Class III railroads, which will be the first railroads that it owns.

The five short line are the Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Co., a 20-mile line which operates a dinner train on Saturdays, as well as three subsidiaries: the 5-mile Charlotte Southern; 2.5-mile Detroit Connecting Railroad; 1.5-mile Lapeer Industrial Railroad, and 47-mile Jackson & Lansing.

STB Delays Watco Purchase of CN Lines

April 28, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has put the brakes on a move by short line holding company Watco to acquire Canadian National trackage in Wisconsin and Michigan.

The board said it was responding to concerns that some shippers, shipper associations, and a Wisconsin congressman have raised about the transaction.

CN plans to sell to Watco 650 miles of light density branches that once belonged to the Wisconsin Central.

Watco had said it wanted to begin operating the lines on June 30.

Shippers Want Review of CN Line Sales

April 15, 2021

Two shipper groups have objected to the sale of Midwest branch and secondary mainlines by Canadian National to short line holding company Watco.

The Wisconsin Central Group and the Lake States Shippers Association have asked the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to deem the sale of 650 miles of track in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a “significant” transaction that would require board review.

CN and Watco contend that the sale is exempt from STB review.

The shippers said they are taking no position on the merits of the CN-Watco deal, but said conditions attached to CN’s 2001 acquisition of Wisconsin Central could be applied to Watco.

Another objection by the shippers is that CN and Watco did not consult with them during the sale negotiations.

“The proposed transaction is ‘significant’ for the broad Great Lakes Forests Region and its communities and, in the present context is significant for the nation’s general system of railroad transportation as a whole. It is not a private matter to be resolved between and among private railroads behind closed doors,” wrote John Duncan Varda, the lawyer for Wisconsin Central Group and Lake States Shippers Association, in an STB filing.

Several other parties also sent letters to the STB asking regulators to review the CN-Watco transaction.

The letters caught some railroad industry observes off guard.

“I’m surprised that this is the least bit contentious. Sales of short line properties are always negotiated in private,” William Schauer, a rail consultant and former Wisconsin Central official, told Trains magazine.

Schauer believes the transaction will be good for shippers because they will receive better service and more attention from Watco than they would get from CN.

One industry observer believes the reaction to the line sale is in part a lingering legacy of the 2001 CN acquisition of Wisconsin Central.

In particular, shippers may still have grievances about the rapid operational changes CN made after buying WC.

Analyst Anthony B. Hatch told Trains that the way the changes were made upset many shippers and led to Wisconsin becoming a hotbed of anti-railroad sentiment.

Hatch believes that having Watco own the affected rail lines will be good for shippers because short lines hustle for local business.

“You’d think this would be a very positive thing,” he said. “For those who want more service up there, having a short line work hard for two loads a week is a good thing. Watco has a good reputation with customers.”

Michigan Pipeline Closure Could Boost Railroads

March 16, 2021

The closing of a pipeline in Michigan has opened opportunities for railroads to pick up business shipping proponel by rail.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has taken action that could result in the Embridge Line 5 pipeline closing in May.

The closure follows Whitmer’s revoking the easement used by the 67-year-old pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac.

News reports indicated that propane suppliers that rely on the pipeline have begun to transition to receiving gas by rail.

Although some companies have already begun to switch to rail deliveries, for others it will be a costly process because they will need to build new rail sidings.

There is also the prospect of a shortage of rail cars as demand for rail deliveries rises.

Embridge is challenging the governor’s action and has said it won’t shut down the pipeline unless ordered to do so by a court.

Some suppliers have said they will not commit to receiving propane by rail until they see how the legal battle plays out.

Michigan Rail History Conference Delayed Until 2022

February 18, 2021

The annual Michigan Railroad History Conference has been postponed until Fall 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which would have been its 16th, will be held in Ludington, Michigan.

Organizers of the event said they elected to cancel the 2021 conference out of a fear that COVID-19 will still be a concern this September. 

The 2021 conference also was slated to be held in Ludington.

In lieu of a live conference, the conference organizers might hold a limited virtual event in Fall 2021 on a date to be determined.

2 CN Workers Hurt in Michigan Derailment

February 11, 2021

Two Canadian National workers sustained “non-life-threatening injuries” during a derailment in Escanaba, Michigan, on Tuesday.

The derailment occurred about 8 p.m. and did not involve any hazardous materials.

Traffic was not obstructed and the cause of the derailment remains under investigation.

Michigan Historical Society Facing Disbanding

January 23, 2021

A Michigan-based historical society may fold as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, an alleged embezzlement, and a lack of financial planning.

The president of the Port Huron & Detroit Historical Society said authorities are investigating how less than $15,000 in society funds has vanished.

The society’s annual revenue is $25,000 and the pandemic has limited the group’s ability to raise money and hold events.

The society is dedicated toward preserving the history of the PH&D and other area railroads

It has been maintaining and restoring a roundhouse and other equipment in a Port Huron museum complex.

The roundhouse needs more than $1 million in repairs and society officers say they would not be surprised if their group is able to survive.

MDOT Names New Head of Rail Office

January 12, 2021

Peter Anastor has been named director of the Office of Rail at the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The appointment, which is effective Jan. 25, involves ensuring that the state’s rail system meets the economic needs of the state and is safe for the motoring public, rail passengers and railroad employees, MDOT said in a news release.

Among Anastor’s duties will be oversight of intercity passenger rail operations, grade crossing funding programs, rail grade separations, safety of light-rail systems, state-owned rail line management, rail-related economic development programs and international border crossings.

He is currently with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and began his career in the State Budget Office in 1995.

Anastor later worked in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Michigan Depot Turned Home For Sale

November 24, 2020

A former railroad station converted to a home in northern Michigan is for sale.

The 2,750-square foot home in Negauee is on the market with an asking price of $324,900.

The former Chicago & North Western depot was converted to a private home in 2001.

Many of its original station-related features have been retained including the ticket windows having been converted into pass-through windows between the kitchen and dining room.

Michigan Rail History Conference Set for 2021

November 20, 2020

Although it was canceled this year the annual Michigan Railroad History Conference has announced plans to meet on Sept. 18, 2021, in Ludington, Michigan.

An announcement said all plans are tentative, but organizers are optimistic the 16th conference will be able to be held as scheduled.

The conference is set to be held at the Ludington Methodist Church.

A call for presenters will go out in early January and be accepted through Feb. 10.

Registration information will be available in March.

Lunch will be provided to conference attendees but may be limited by health and safety protocols.

Other events being planned are an early evening reception and a tour of the Great Lakes boat the Badger.

On Friday, Sept, 17, a bus fieldtrip is being planned focusing on Ludington railroad sites including those of the Pere Marquette, Epworth League Railway and the Ludington & Northern Railway. 

A notebook with information about the railroads and sites will be provided to those making the tour.