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In memoriam: Short-line magnate and ASLRRA leader Earl Durden


Earl Durden, who owned 14 short lines and chaired the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) for many years, died April 25 at his home in Panama City Beach, Fla. He was 73.

From 1967 to 1975, Durden was vice president and general manager of the Chattahoochee Industrial Railroad. He later ran a successful transportation consulting practice and launched several businesses until 1980, when he founded Rail Management Corp. and Rail Switching Services Inc. Durden sold Rail Switching Services in 1995, but Rail Management eventually bought and controlled 14 short lines in the southeastern United States that were acquired by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. in 2005.

“Durden was an icon in the railroad industry with a reputation for operating the most efficient and safely run railroads in the United States,” his obituary states.

In addition to chairing ASLRRA, Durden served a stint as chairman of the Florida Transportation Commission. Because he helped advance railroad legislation during his ASLRRA chairmanship, the association created the “EARL,” or Excellence in Advancing Rail Legislation, Award that's presented annually at the Railroad Day on Capitol Hill reception and dinner in Washington, D.C.

Durden is survived by his wife, Karen, one son and two stepsons.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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