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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

New ethanol plant means track, traffic build-up for Greenville & Western


Greenville & Western Railway Co. L.L.C. (GRLW) will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars this year and next to upgrade infrastructure for a new ethanol facility that figures to add thousands of carloads to the short line's coffers.

A consortium of regional firms is developing a 96-car unit train ethanol distribution, storage and blending facility on a 40-acre site along GRLW's line near Belton, S.C. The 12.7-mile short line will upgrade its infrastructure to FRA Class II standards to handle the facility's traffic.

This year, GRLW plans to spend about $800,000 on infrastructure upgrades. The short line will construct a two-mile mainline with 115- or 136-pound rail, install 8,300 wood ties, re-deck two bridges and rebuild 13 crossings. Next year, the railroad will install 5,300 more wood ties, rebuild another 10 crossings, close one crossing and seek funds to install active warning devices at an additional four crossings.

First-year carloads are projected to total about 5,000, but that could be too conservative a figure, says GRLW President Steven Hawkins. The facility might be expanded to include biofuels and other fuels.

"The closest unit-train facility of this size is in New Jersey," says Hawkins. "The market opportunity here is huge."

Jeff Stagl

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More News from 4/3/2008