Posts Tagged ‘Short line railroads’

OmniTRAX Affiliates Help Local Food Banks

January 13, 2022

The Cleveland & Cuyahoga Railway was one of 14 OmniTRAX short line railroads that provided 1 million meals to local food banks in 2021.

Also participating was the Northern Ohio & Western. The carriers were part of the short line holding company’s Good Neighbor Program that provided food bank donations and local employee volunteers to support community meal pledges.

The Broe Group, which is the parent company of OmniTRAX, matched each food bank commitment.

P&L Names New CEO

December 29, 2021

P&L Transportation, which operates regional and short line railroads in Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia, has named a new CEO.

Tom Garrett will replace the retiring Tony Reck on Jan. 1, 2022. Reck will continue to serve as chairman of the company and its subsidiaries.

Garrett is currently P&L’s president, a role he will continue to serve, the company said in a news release.

Reck joined P&L in 1986 as vice president of marketing and sales. He became its president and CEO in 1988.

Garrett has been with P&L since 1987 and held a number of management positions. He was named president in 2010.

P&L’s subsidiary railroads are the Paducah & Louisville; Evansville Western Railway; Appalachian & Ohio Railroad; and Midway Southern.

Crew Shortages Affect Short Lines, Too

November 24, 2021

Crew shortages spurred by employees leaving for other jobs and a dearth of applicants for the openings they leave behind have spread to short line railroads.

As reported by Trains magazine on its website, executives from a number of short line holding companies told an industry conference that in some instances short lines have been able to hire former Class 1 railroad workers despite the lower pay and benefits offered by short lines.

Short lines also offer more predictable working hours with operating personnel often able to return home at night once they complete their shift.

A Genesee & Wyoming executive told the conference the number of workers leaving G&W railroads doubled during the third quarter.

The article can be read at: https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/train-crew-shortage-spreads-to-short-lines/

Shorts Urged to Make a Case on Crew Size

November 20, 2021

A key Federal Railroad Administration manager has invited short line and regional railroads to make the case for having crew sizes below the federal minimum.

As reported by Trains magazine, Amit Bose, FRA’s deputy administrator said during a speech to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association that the agency is considering creating a rule for minimum crew size that will allow for exceptions.

“If you make a safety case, you will be able to go below the crew size that is minimum,”  he said.

Noting that some short lines already operate below minimum crew sizes, Bose said, “If you have a safety case, make it. FRA will listen to it.”

Other rules that the FRA is considering, he said, will address locomotive recording devices, fatigue risk-management plans, and alcohol and drug testing for maintenance of way workers.

A Railroad Safety Advisory Committee may be revived

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.