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By year’s end, Iowa Northern Railway Co. will close on the second Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program loan to be approved by the Federal Railroad Administration this year. Last month, the short line announced the administration gave the thumbs up to a $25.5 million loan.
Iowa Northern will use proceeds to help fund upgrades to the majority of its 163-mile line. During the next six years, the short line plans to spend about $60 million to upgrade track and improve facilities. The railroad also will take delivery of additional locomotives and rail cars within the next six months.
Iowa Northern needs to improve infrastructure and expand capacity to accommodate growing ethanol business, said President Dan Sabin in a prepared statement (click here for more on short lines and ethanol traffic).
“With grain yields at an all-time high and the booming biofuels market, we’re in need of strong infrastructure to handle the increased traffic,” he said.
Iowa Northern operates a mainline between Manly and Cedar Rapids, and a branch line between Waterloo and Oelwein.
The only other RRIF loan approved by the FRA this year went to another Iowa railroad. In February, Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. obtained a $9.35 million loan to purchase 22 GP-38-2 locomotives from GATX Rail.
Last month, BNSF Railway Co. presented Short-Line Achievement Awards to Big Horn Divide and Wyoming Railroad (BDW), Northern Lines Railway L.L.C. (NLR), and Red River Valley and Western Railroad Co. (RRVW).
Presented to the winners at the Class I’s 11th annual short-line conference Oct. 16 in Fort Worth, Texas, the awards recognize the “resourcefulness and achievements of short lines that have gone beyond expectations,” according to a prepared statement.
Formed in 1985, the 17-mile BDW is the only short line operating in Wyoming. The railroad partners with BNSF to build unit trains and provide single-car service.
Launched in 1987, the 517-mile RRVW handles more than 45,000 carloads annually and serves more than 60 customers, including six grain shuttle facilities and 35 grain elevators. The regional has helped BNSF develop “strategically located” grain shuttle facilities that have increased traffic volumes, the Class I said.
Anacostia & Pacific Co. Inc. formed NLR in 2004 to operate 22 track miles in the St. Cloud, Minn., area the company leased from BNSF. The short line has helped BNSF attract new customers and divert traffic from trucks.
BNSF connects with more than 200 regionals, short lines and switch carriers, which account for about 17.5 percent of the Class I’s revenue.