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Twin Cities & Western to re-open Minnesota short line


Minnesota Valley Regional Railroad Authority and Minnesota Prairie Line Inc. (MPL) Jan. 23 formally signed a contract, enabling MPL to lease, reactivate and operate a 94-mile line between Norwood and Hanley Falls, Minn.
MPL, a wholly owned subsidiary of 229-mile Twin Cities & Western Railroad Co. (TC&W), plans soon to replace broken rails, remove brush and reopen grade crossings on the line, which hasn’t supported traffic since August 2000.
In spring, MPL’s contractor would begin installing 80,000 crossties, crushed rock ballast and other materials.
The$6 million rehabilitation project will be funded by a $4.8 million loan from Minnesota Department of Transportation Rail Service Improvement Program, $600,000 from shippers along the line and $600,000 from Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority, which TC&W plans to lend chiefly in the form of repair service.
The project also will receive $1 million under a federal appropriation obtained through the Minnesota congressional efforts.
Train service might begin on the east end of the railroad by late summer. Trackwork is scheduled to be complete by the end of November, permitting trains to operate at speeds up to 10 mph. TC&W plans to upgrade the line to support 25 mph operations and strengthen the track to accommodate 286,000-pound cars.
"We are very grateful for this opportunity to re-open and operate the Minnesota Prairie Line," said TC&W President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Drusch in a prepared statement. "We are looking forward to providing reliable, efficient and
locally responsive rail service to the many customers and communities along the line."
Drusch believes MPL will handle about 8,200 cars annually, and that the project will help create 15 to 20 jobs on both MPL and TC&W.
TC&W plans soon to lease freight cars and secure two locomotives for use by MPL, which would connect with TC&W at Norwood and Burlington Northern Santa Fe at Hanley Falls.

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