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6/6/2006



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

California railroad authority chooses NWP to operate Northwestern Pacific Line



And the operator is … NWP Inc. Last week, the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) selected that firm to operate the 316-mile Northwestern Pacific Line, which parallels U.S. Highway 101 between Eureka and Novato, Calif.

A soon-to-be incorporated California company, NWP comprises Woodside Consulting Group, Evergreen Natural Resources and Berg Holdings. NCRA selected the firm over the Sierra Railroad Co., which last month was selected as the other finalist.

During the next 30 to 60 days, NCRA and NWP will negotiate a lease and operating agreement. Initially, NWP will obtain a lease to operate trains between Lombard and Dos Rios. The lease agreement will include an option to operate portions of the line through the Eel River Canyon to Eureka.

In summer, the authority plans to begin a phased track rehabilitation project, which calls for repairing culverts, bridges, levees and crossings. NCRA expects to restore rail service within 18 months.

The line will be used to ship municipal solid waste, rock, forest products and — eventually — inbound containers from the Port of Humboldt Bay.

In 1998, Union Pacific Railroad closed the line — which it acquired in the Southern Pacific Railroad merger — after a series of storms. The trackbed frequently slid into the Eel River during bad weather. The line reopened briefly between Willits and Schellville, but the Federal Railroad Administration later closed the line, citing safety concerns.


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