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10/14/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Short line restores service to Minnesota line after two-year shutdown


Trains are operating again between Norwood and Hanley Falls, Minn. — a welcome sign for shippers that haven't had rail service for more than two years. On Oct. 11, Minnesota Prairie Line (MPL) moved a 50-car train carrying corn over the 94-mile line.


The line formerly was operated by Minnesota Central Railroad Co., which went bankrupt and shut down operations in August 2000, and was acquired last year by Minnesota Valley Regional Railroad Authority (MVRRA). The authority still owns the line, which is leased by 229-mile Twin Cities & Western Railroad Co. (TCWR) and operated by new subsidiary MPL.


Using a $4.8 million loan from the Minnesota Department of Transportation Rail Service Improvement Program, a $600,000 loan from MVRRA and $600,000 contributed from shippers, MPL rehabilitated the line this summer by installing 80,000 ties, replacing broken rail, reopening crossings and laying ballast.


MPL also plans to upgrade the line to accommodate 286,000-pound cars and increase train speeds to 25 mph.


The short line, which expects to operate six trains weekly and handle 8,200 carloads annually, interchanges with TCWR at Norwood and Burlington Northern Santa Fe at Hanley Falls.


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