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3/26/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Independence day: A&M completes BNSF trackage transaction


Arkansas and Missouri Railroad Co. (A&M) took the final step toward short-line independence last month by completing the purchase of 139 track miles and associated right-of-way from Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
"It's all ours," says Jerry Lipka, A&M's controller and treasurer.
In 1986, A&M signed a 30-year lease-with-intent-to-purchase agreement with BNSF. The short-line spin-off closed the $6 million (net) deal March 16.
"That we are concluding the purchase in half the time originally envisioned is a major credit to both our management team and BNSF personnel who worked with us to help make this happen," said A&M President Larry Bouchet in a prepared statement.
The short line, which connects with BNSF, Union Pacific Railroad, Kansas City Southern Railway and Fort Smith Railroad Co., serves customers in the northwest Arkansas communities of Fort Smith, Van Buren, Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville; and southwest Missouri communities such as Monnett.
In July 2000, A&M reached a long-term agreement with UP to take over rail operations of Van Buren (Ark.) Industrial Park. Under the pact, all traffic coming to Fort Smith Railroad from UP or to UP now is handled by A&M.
Officials at A&M, which has a five-year marketing agreement with BNSF under which the Class I sets rates, plan to work closely with UP and KCS to establish competitive rates.
"As now a truly independent short-line railroad, we must concentrate even harder on developing opportunities to grow both our and our customers' business," Bouchet said.
Pat Foran


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