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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

BNSF bestows annual short-line awards; Patriot Rail lands transload business; GWI leases NS line


BNSF Railway Co. recently named the Hondo Railway (HRR) its Short Line of the Year. The Class I recognized HRR for “reacting quickly” to new business opportunities by “investing capital to establish a market presence,” BNSF officials said in a prepared statement.

The short line is on pace to more than double traffic volume this year due to “focused and intense marketing efforts,” they said. In addition, HRR is “well positioned” to handle commodities required by Eagle Ford Shale oilfield service companies, including frac sand and drilling mud, BNSF officials said. Since HRR opened its facility in Hondo, Texas, in 2006, the railroad has more than tripled the size of the yard, and purchased additional locomotives and equipment.

“The Hondo Railway has exceeded BNSF’s expectations through innovation, determination, vision and entrepreneurial spirit,” said BNSF Vice President of Network Strategy Dean Wise.

BNSF also presented Achievement Awards to Watco Companies L.L.C. and the Minnesota Commercial Railway. Watco was the first company to help beta test a new “Shortline Velocity Tool,” and a number of the company’s suggestions were incorporated into the tool to make it more valuable to short-line partners, BNSF officials said. The Class I recognized Minnesota Commercial Railway for offering one of its energy customers a successful “all inclusive” package, including transload, switching, loading and weighing services, they said.

Meanwhile, Patriot Rail Corp. announced its Louisiana and North West Railroad (LNW) subsidiary entered into a five-year lease and freight-rail services agreement with Pro Sands Processing L.L.C, which supplies frac sand and provides storage and delivery services to the oil and gas industry.

Under the pact, Pro Sands will lease 10 acres at LNW's newly constructed 40-acre Iron Bridge Road transload facility in Gibsland, La. and the short line will deliver carloads of frac sand to the facility, where the product will be dried, processed and transloaded to truck for delivery to regional energy customers. Pro Sands agreed to move a minimum of 2,400 carloads annually into the facility; after the transload facility is fully operational, annual carloads are projected to increase to 5,000.

During the past year, Patriot Rail — which owns 12 short lines — has spent more than $3 million to develop and construct the facility, which opened Oct. 5.

“This new business allows [us] to fully utilize assets at the LNW, and generate significant carloads and guaranteed revenue,” said Patriot Rail Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Marino in a prepared statement.

Finally, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (GWI) announced its newly formed subsidiary, the Hilton & Albany Railroad Inc. (HAL), signed an agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway to lease and operate a 56-mile segment from Hilton to Albany, Ga. Operations are slated to begin in January.

HAL is expected to handle about 12,000 carloads annually, primarily overhead traffic between NS and GWI’s Bay Line, Chattahoochee Bay and Chattahoochee Industrial railroads. In addition, HAL will serve several local agricultural and aggregate customers in southwest Georgia.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/2/2011