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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Cleveland port, short line forge business-building agreement


Yesterday, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority announced it approved a “pilot agreement” with Cleveland Commercial Railroad Co. L.L.C. (CCR) that calls for the short line to locally market rail services to and from the port, and manage the port rail system’s scheduling and operations.

The pact will not require any expenditures by the port authority, according to a prepared statement. CCR will earn revenue through proceeds generated by its service and pay the authority a sliding rate after annual volume exceeds 500,000 tons.

The short line — which operates two lines totaling 23 miles in Cleveland — will be responsible for negotiating switching agreements and scheduling protocols with Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation, which serve the port. CCR also will provide advice on designing a planned rail loop slated to be completed later this year. The loop will connect tracks and create more than one mile of additional track, enabling more rail cars to be brought into the port and switched on site.
“We believe this partnership will help upgrade the port’s rail service — something critical to our competitive position,” said Will Friedman, the port authority’s chief executive officer. “Improved rail access will make the port more accessible to businesses looking to cut their shipping costs and improve their international reach.”
The partnership is a “natural fit,” said Bill Brown, CCR’s chief financial officer and one of the short line’s three owners.
“We will better connect the port to a rail network — which extends beyond our own 23 miles of track — and will promote the use of the port,” he said. “This will mean easier, better, more efficient, and less expensive shipping for many Cleveland-area businesses.”