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Rail News: M&A

Watco Cos. to acquire Camas Prairie from North American RailNet

On March 1, Watco Cos. Inc. expects to begin operating its eighth short line — and second in Idaho and Washington. The short-line holding company recently reached an agreement with North American RailNet Inc. to acquire Camas Prairie RailNet Inc., which operates 245 track miles in the two states.

Watco expects to rename Camas Prairie — which North American RailNet purchased in April 1998 from Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific Railroad — The Great Northwest Railroad.

"Watco will continue to work on the relationships that RailNet has fostered and … [seek] enhanced public-private partnerships to ensure the entire line can be preserved for the long term," said Watco President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Webb in a prepared statement. "There will be definite synergies between The Great Northwest Railroad, and our current Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad in eastern Washington. Sharing the resources of locomotives, track and crews in this region will help make both railroads more successful."

Watco also recently obtained a long-term lease from BNSF enabling the 140-mile Timber Rock Railroad Co. to operate 30 track miles between Silsbee and Kirbyville, Texas, and increase its track miles to 170. The short line interchanges with BNSF at Tenaha and Kirbyville, and with Kansas City Southern at Deridder, Texas.

In addition to Timber Rock, and the 396-mile Palouse River and Coulee City railroads, Watco also owns and operates the 920-mile Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad, 511-mile South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad, 270-mile Eastern Idaho Railroad, 232-mile Stillwater Central Railroad and 13-mile Pennsylvania Southwestern Railroad Inc.

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More News from 2/17/2004