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Port Manatee in Tampa Bay and Regional Rail LLC have announced intentions for Regional Rail to operate the Port Manatee-owned short line through 2036, with options through 2051.
Effective Dec.1, Port Manatee Railroad LLC will be operated as a subsidiary of Regional Rail, based in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, port officials said in a press release.
Regional Rail already operates 550 miles of short-line track, including trackage managed by three short lines in Florida. Port Manatee Railroad has been operated by the port since 1970 and encompasses 7 miles of track connecting to a CSX mainline. The short line also has owns energy-efficient diesel-electric locomotives that can support 300 rail cars.
The deal comes as Port Manatee continues to grow its customer base as the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the Panama Canal. The port generates $3.9 billion in annual revenue.
"Port Manatee is experiencing record growth, including a 53.3% rise in containerized cargo trade for the fiscal-year ended Sept. 30, while reaching an all-time-high in total cargo tonnage," said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director.