Posts Tagged ‘Short line railroads’

Indiana Short Line Starts Transload Facility

July 29, 2021

An Indiana Class III railroads working with a sister company has begun switching services and transloading at a northwest Indiana location.

The two companies are East Chicago Rail Terminal and East Chicago Transload. The terminal is located in East Chicago, Indiana.

The terminal now offers transloading of bulk, liquid and hazardous materials with 100 railcar spots, as well as a warehouse, storage for 200 railcars, railcar cleaning, and railcar repair.

East Chicago Rail Terminal provides 24/7/365 switching service at the facility, and interchanges with Indiana Harbor Felt for access to Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Michigan Short Line Being Sold

June 4, 2021

A Michigan short line railroad is being sold.

Mark W. Dobronski, president of the Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road, recently informed employees that the sale will occur this summer, subject to regulatory approval.

The new operator of the 20-mile short line in Lenawee County will be a startup firm named Transportation Holdings and led by Christopher Bagwell.

The A&B will be this new company’s first acquisition. Dobronski said the jobs of current workers are secure. 

“ADBF will continue to be ADBF,” he told employees. “While there will be some inevitable changes, such as new officers and directors of ADBF, Holdings has made clear to me that they consider the existing ADBF employees to be essential to the continued operations of ADBF — indeed, ADBF’s employees are deemed to be one of its greatest assets.”

Shippers Express Support for Watco Acquisition of CN Lines in Michigan, Wisconsin

April 17, 2021

Even as some shippers are raising concerns others have expressed support for the sale by Canadian National of several lines in Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan.

The lines, many of which were once operated by Wisconsin Central, are being acquired by short line operator Watco.

The transaction involves 650 miles of what CN described as light density routes. Watco hopes to begin operating the routes on June. 30.

A major shipper group, a current shipper, railroad associations in Wisconsin and Michigan, a county economic development agency, and a Wisconsin business group are urging the U.S. Surface Transportation board to approve the deal.

“Access to reliable rail service is critically important to the viability of our agriculture, timber, and manufacturing sectors in the states of Wisconsin and Michigan. Having a company like Watco operating these important branch line segments is a great move towards the future of rail transportation in these regions,” wrote Kurt Bauer, who leads Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s chamber of commerce and largest business association.

Rail consultant William Schauer, a former vice president of marketing at Wisconsin Central, wrote in a letter to the STB that “the Wisconsin Central is gone and will not be coming back.”

He said the former WC main line remains vital to CN as a link between Western Canada and Chicago.

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.”

Emergency Response Plan Issued for Short Lines

March 16, 2021

A transportation emergency response has been created for short line railroads by the Short Line Safety Institute.

Known as TERP, the document provides guidance for moving hazardous materials, including instruction on how to help prepare workers to safely respond to an incident and work with local first responders in advance of an emergency.

The SLSI said the document has detailed high-resolution maps identifying physical features of a railroad’s yard or yards and location of key assets for incident response and emergency access routes within that facility.

A “red tab” section provides contact information for key railroad personnel and sensitive receptors located within a one-mile radius of a rail yard. 

OmniTRAX Promoting Development Along NW Ohio Line

March 13, 2021

Short line holding company OmniTRAX has extended an economic development program to its rail line in Northwest Ohio.

Known as the Rail-Ready Sites program, it seeks to link shippers who want rail service with its various rail lines.

In this instance, OmniTRAX has established a partnership with the Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation to market two two properties along its 25-mile Northern Ohio & Western between Woodville and Tiffin, which offers interchanges with CSX and Norfolk Southern.

Principal commodities that are handled on that line include limestone, lime and pressed board.

CSX Files Pan Am Merger Plan with STB

February 28, 2021

CSX has formally notified the U.S. Surface Transportation Board of its plans to acquire Pan Am Railways.

The merger application said the transaction will improve service, capture business from trucks, and boost railroad competition in New England.

The deal had been announced on Nov. 30. Pan Am operates 1,700 miles of track and haulagae rights from Albany, New York, to Maine.

In what some industry observers see as a concession to Norfolk Southern, which had expressed initial opposition to the news of the pending acquisition, CSX will have a Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary operate the Pan Am Southern, a joint venture of Pan Am and NS.

G&W’s Pittsburg & Shawmut subsidiary operating as Berkshire & Eastern, will operate Pan Am Southern of which NS is a 50 percent owner.

CSX will own half of Pan Am Southern while NS will retain its ownership share.

NS had sought a neutral party to operate the Pan Am Southern.

The Atlanta-based Class 1 also will gain trackage rights over CSX, Providence & Worcester, and Pan Am between Albany and Ayer, Massachusetts, for intermodal and automotive traffic.

That will provide a faster route for NS intermodal trains 22K and 23K as well as a route that avoids the clearance restrictions in 4.75-mile Hoosac Tunnel in western Massachusetts.

Using CSX track on the former Water Level Route and the Boston & Albany via Worcester, Massachusetts, is expected to reduce the running time for the 22K and 23K by three hours and eliminate a single-stacking operation at Mechanicville., New York.

In return NS has agreed to help pay for clearance work between Worcester and Aye and will rebuild its former Delaware & Hudson route from Delanson, New York, to Voorheesville, New York.

Two NS manifest freights will continue to operate daily over the Pan Am Southern between Albany and the Pan Am classification yard at East Deerfield, Massachusetts.

The Pan Am Southern, which has 425 miles of rail lines and trackage rights routes, is now operated by Pan Am’s Springfield Terminal subsidiary.

G&W already connects with Pan Am Southern through its New England Central, Providence & Worcester, and Connecticut Southern.

The STB filing did not estimate cost savings or revenue gains that CSX expects from acquiring Pan Am.

“While CSXT expects rail traffic on the PAR System to grow over time, CSXT does not expect to make any significant changes in traffic routes or traffic volumes in the next few years,” the filing said.

Having Pan Am will extend CSX’s reach into Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick.

CSX is already the dominant Class 1 freight railroad in New England but said that because it is an end-to-end merger there will be no adverse effects on competition.

The petition said no short line railroads will lose competitive access and the Berkshire & Eastern will independently set rates on Pan Am Southern.

STB Won’t Reconsider Conditions Imposed on Massena Line Sale

February 26, 2021

In a 3-2 decision, the U.S. Surface Transportation Board declined to reconsider the conditions that it earlier placed on Canadian National’s proposed acquisition of CSX’s Massena Line in New York state.

The decision might end the transaction if the two railroad follow through on earlier contentions that they could not complete the deal unless the STB reconsidered a condition to allow CN to negotiate interchange agreements with short lines in Syracuse, New York.

The Massena Line extends from Syracuse to the Montreal region in Canada.

CN’s deal to buy the route had been announced in October 2019 and approved by the STB last April.

But a provision of the sale agreement banned CSX from negotiating direct interchange with the Finger Lakes Railway and the New York, Susquehanna & Western in Syracuse.

The STB’s latest action was revealed on Thursday afternoon and officials of CSX and CN told news reporters they were reviewing the decision before responding to it.

The STB decision cited “serious competitive concerns” and rejected the contention of the railroads that the Board erred in imposing a condition designed to protect B&LE, “a ‘sophisticated buyer’ capable of evaluating the commercial impacts of the transaction.”

The reference to B&LE refers to CN subsidiary Bessemer & Lake Erie, which operates in Ohio and Pennsylvania but had been designated by CN to operate the Massena Line under the CN banner.

“B&LE’s agreeing to a provision that the board has deemed anticompetitive does not remove the board’s authority to address the anticompetitive impacts of a transaction by ensuring a carrier’s ability to seek access or interchange with nearby carriers, consistent with the board’s statutory objectives,” the STB wrote in its decision.

STB members Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Schulz dissented with Fuchs writing that the majority on the Board had ignored the fact that CN and the Finger Lakes Railway can’t directly interchange today.

 “The majority’s erroneous attempt to perfect the transaction has delayed and jeopardized meaningful network improvements and may well discourage similar improvements in the future,” he wrote.

G&W Customers Invested $1.6B in Industrial Projects Last Year

February 12, 2021

Customers of Genesee & Wyoming railroads invested $1.6 billion on 45 new industrial projects across its rail network in 2020 the company said in a news release.

The release said this resulted in the generation of more than 800 jobs in communities across its network of 116 short line railroads.

Among those projects was a new facility for shipping automobiles in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and another facility for recycling zinc in Cass County, Indiana.

In a statement G&W Chief Commercial Officer Mike Peters said investments such as these are “testimony not only to the critical role of rail transportation in the supply chain, but also to the commitment and resiliency of our customers during the challenges of a global pandemic.”

Iowa Short Line Buys Flats Industrial Switcher

December 21, 2020

An Iowa short line railroad has acquired an EMD switch engine from the Flats Industrial Railroad of Cleveland.

The SW9m, No. 1202, has been purchased by the Davenport Industrial Railroad.

The unit was built in May 1951 for the Lehigh Valley where it worked until 1974.

It was later owned by U.S. Steel, which assigned it to its Youngstown & Northern property, and by the Lake Terminal Railroad.

The late Arthur Fournier acquired the 1202 in 1999 for use on his Flats Industrial Railroad.

It had been rebuilt in 1995 during its time on the Lake Terminal.

The switcher is expected to be moved to Iowa sometime this winter.

A recent report incorrectly stated the unit had been moved by the Flats Industrial in preparation for movement.

In fact, that move was done so that some brake rigging repair could be performed on the locomotive.

The Flats Industrial, which is located in downtown Cleveland, is idle these days due to lack of business