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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

California rail authority to resume freight-rail service on Northwestern Pacific line


On May 5, the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) announced the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published an order that enables freight-rail service to resume on the historic Northwestern Pacific Railroad line between Brazos Junction and Windsor, Calif.

The FRA partially lifted an emergency order issued in 1998 that stopped all train service on the line following a series of El Nino storms. The new order permits freight-rail service on a 62-mile stretch from Brazos Junction east through the cities of Novato, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Windsor.

The FRA’s decision “makes it possible to restart train service from Napa to Windsor by mid-June,” said NCRA Chairman Hal Wagenet in a prepared statement.

The NCRA has spent more than $60 million since 2007 to repair 56 grade crossing signals, 50,000 crossties and 23,000 tons of ballast; shore-up levees; repair 43 rail bridges and three movable bridges; and reestablish a train connection with Union Pacific Railroad south of Napa. Repairs to the line north to Willits will resume as financing becomes available, according to the NCRA.

The authority leases the line to private short-haul rail operator NWP Co. Three round-trip trains per week will haul feed grains, wood products, building materials, wine and other general merchandise during the start-up phase between Napa and Windsor, according to NWP.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/9/2011