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Watco Transportation Services L.L.C. subsidiary Blue Ridge Southern Railroad (BLU) has reached an agreement with Norfolk Southern Corp. to purchase three branch lines in North Carolina that feed into the railroad's terminal in Asheville.Totaling 92 miles, the lines run from Murphy Junction to Dillsboro, Asheville to East Flat Rock, and Hendersonville to Pisgah Forest. BLU plans to file for approval with the Surface Transportation Board and could begin operations on July 26, Watco officials said in a press release."We see this cluster of rail lines around Asheville as a growth opportunity for Watco," said Senior Vice President of Marketing Stefan Loeb. "We will have a marketing officer located in the community and will be looking to work with local communities to market the region."BLU plans to launch operation with 10 locomotives, including seven SD40s and three GP39s. The short line expects to immediately begin hiring to ensure uninterrupted service to customers, and soon appoint a general manager and marketing officer.Watco currently owns and operates 30 short lines that control more than 4,600 miles of track. The company also operates 27 industrial contract switching locations and provides rail-car and locomotive repair, transload, warehousing, port and supply chain services.
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