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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

McCarren resurfaces as minority owner/chairman of Arkansas short line


Eight months after leaving a Class II railroad, Reilly McCarren is joining a Class III.

McCarren early last month purchased minority ownership — a little more than 10 percent — in Arkansas & Missouri Railroad Co. (A&M) from Chairman Tony Hannold and the Hannold family, and replaced Hannold as chairman of the short line's board.

"It's a railroad I always admired from afar as a sound franchise," says McCarren. "I find the short-line industry interesting because of the intimacy with customers and employees — it's much different in a large organization."

McCarren's already had the large-organization experience: He left Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp. as president and chief executive officer (North American System) in October when Canadian National Railway Co. bought the regional.

Since then, McCarren's been spending more time with his family while measuring his options.

He was approached by Hannold in November about obtaining ownership in 139-mile A&M; on and off talks led to a deal last month, under which McCarren initially is a minority investor but eventually will assume majority ownership of the short line (although McCarren declined to speculate on a timetable).

A&M, which connects with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Union Pacific Railroad and Kansas City Southern, offers transloading, car leasing, air-brake repair, warehousing, engine-shop and car-repair services.

McCarren, who lives in the Chicago area, plans to spend one week a month in Arkansas to oversee the short line.

"Basically I'm leveraging my industry experience to help the short line, hoping to build on the history of A&M," he says. "But we'll have to be careful about how we grow the railroad to make sure we keep the characteristics that make the short line attractive in the first place."

McCarren's transition to A&M already has brought about a change in the short line's ranks: President and CEO Larry Bouchet resigned in early June (citing differences in management strategy). A&M then named Senior Vice President Brent McCready acting president.

A&M plans soon to recruit a president and CEO, says McCarren, adding that he's not sure when that might happen.

Jeff Stagl

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/18/2002