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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

RailAmerica's short lines play starring roles on the silver screen

RailAmerica Inc. officials have more to worry about than pleasing fickle shippers. Since the early 1990s, executives at the short-line holding company also have been trying to satisfy the needs of eccentric film producers and directors.

Because RailAmerica owns 46 North American short lines operating over a variety of topography, filmmakers are interested in using the company's railroads as integral settings or plot devices — including producers of the current Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunst film "Mona Lisa Smile," who filmed scenes on short line Arizona & California Railroad Co.

"We have lines in metropolitan regions like Dallas and Cincinnati, as well as such scenic locales as Vancouver Island in British Columbia and Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia," said RailAmerica Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Marino in a prepared statement.

In 1994, the director of "Legends of the Fall" starring Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt filmed scenes at the Central Western Railway in Stettler, Alberta; In 2000, producers of westerns "Shanghai Noon" starring Jackie Chan and "Monte Walsh" starring Tom Selleck used the Mackenzie Northern Railway in Peace River, Alberta, as a setting and plot device.

Meanwhile, RailAmerica's New England Central Railroad Inc. played a role in 2000's "Me, Myself and Irene" starring Jim Carrey, and "What Lies Beneath" starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.

"We make every effort to provide the film industry with flexible scheduling and the same high quality of customer service that we provide our freight customers," said Sandy Franger, RailAmerica vice president of contracts and interline agreements.

For a peek inside Hollywood's connection to short line Sierra Railroad Co. in Oakdale, Calif., see page 48 of Progressive Railroading's January issue.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/9/2004