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12/29/2004


Rail News: M&A
Watco swings second track-acquisition deal with BNSF in two days



The Watco Cos. Inc. continues to obtain more track for its subsidiary short lines by completing deals with Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Yesterday, Watco announced Stillwater Central Railroad (SLWC) will operate 15 track miles between Wheatland and Oklahoma City, Okla., that the company acquired from BNSF through a lease agreement. A day earlier, Watco — which owns 10 short lines operating in 23 states — announced it acquired track in Montana from BNSF and was launching Mission Mountain Railroad.

SLWC also will assume operation of BNSF's Oklahoma City yard and interchange Tulsa-to-Oklahoma City traffic with the Class I. The short line will serve 30 industrial switching customers who ship steel, chemical, food, forest products and building materials.

"Three years ago today, we signed a contract with the BNSF to expand the Stillwater Central Railroad into southwest Oklahoma to better serve our customers throughout the high plains," said Watco Chief Executive Officer Rick Webb in a prepared statement. "Today, we again strive to improve our customer service by connecting two existing lines and growing the business in Oklahoma."

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