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Short lines on both sides of the U.S./Canada border obtained federal funds last month to help address operational needs or infrastructure shortcomings.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a $4.6 million Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program loan to the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Corp. (NERR).
The 110-mile short line will use proceeds to purchase 50 new triple-hopper cars and two rehabilitated locomotives. Twenty-five of the cars and the two locomotives will serve a new customer, Lojac Minerals, and the other 25 hoppers will help accommodate anticipated traffic increases.
NERR will move sand from Lojac’s Monterey, Tenn., mine to manufacturing facilities in Lebanon and Hermitage, Tenn. Lojac, which produces concrete, concrete blocks and other building materials, previously hauled sand by truck.
Under the RRIF program, the FRA is authorized to provide $35 billion (including $7 billion set aside for regionals and short lines) in direct loans or loan guarantees to eligible railroads, state and local governments, and government-sponsored authorities to acquire, develop, improve or rehabilitate intermodal or rail facilities. In January, the FRA issued a $3 million RRIF loan to the Columbia Basin Railroad Co.
Meanwhile, the governments of Canada and Quebec last month teamed up to provide millions of dollars to eight short lines for infrastructure improvements. The governments signed the Canada-Quebec Agreement, which will provide more than $75 million over five years to help fund the cost of restoring and upgrading short-line infrastructure.
The funds include:
Sometime this month, Ottawa Central expects to start the project, which calls for upgrading more than 22 miles of track to increase carrying capacity.
During the next five years, the Canadian government will provide $948,000, Quebec government will allocate $632,000 and Ottawa Central Railway will fund more than $789,000 for the trackwork.
— Jeff Stagl