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9/28/2009



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Iowa Pacific Holdings seeks TIGER grants for two short lines


Earlier this month, Iowa Pacific Holdings L.L.C. submitted two Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to obtain funds for infrastructure upgrades and the launch of passenger-rail operations at two short lines.

The holding company is seeking a TIGER grant for the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad (SLRG) to upgrade track, improve service and launch a “San Luis Valley Rail Mobility” passenger-rail operation for residents of a remote and sparsely populated region in south-central Colorado. The short line plans to build an inland port facility to transfer products between rail and truck, and upgrade track to accommodate heavier freight volumes and higher passenger train speeds.

“In a unique twist, the railway would commit to provide local passenger operations at its own expense, without subsidy, for 20 years,” Iowa Pacific Holdings officials said in a prepared statement. “Trains would operate four times daily between South Fork, Alamosa and Antonito on a year-round basis.”

Iowa Pacific Holdings also is seeking a TIGER grant for the Arizona Eastern Railway, which in partnership with the Arizona DOT plans to upgrade rail facilities to divert thousands of truckloads of mining-related freight from highways and rural communities in southeast Arizona. The short line would build a rail spur to the Freeport-McMoran Safford mine facility and provide new passenger-rail service between Globe and Safford via the San Carlos Apache Reservation. In addition, the railroad plans to upgrade track to accommodate heavier freight volumes and higher passenger train speeds.

On Friday, the USDOT announced it received about 1,400 TIGER grant applications from all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia by the Sept. 15 deadline. Of the total $57 billion in grant requests, more than half of the applications seek funds for highway or bridge projects, with the remainder focusing on transit, railroad, port infrastructure, multi-modal or other projects.

The USDOT expects to announce grant recipients no later than Feb. 17, 2010. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has committed to announcing all of the projects by January, the USDOT said.


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