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An investor group headed by private investment firm Equity Group Investments (EGI) that includes International Rail Partners LLC (IRP) recently pooled more than $200 million to help IRP form RailUSA LLC.The new subsidiary already is helping IRP acquire regionals and short lines. In August, RailUSA completed its first acquisition: Grenada Railroad LLC, which operates a 206-mile line between Memphis, Tennessee, and Canton, Missouri. In cooperation with the North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority, RailUSA plans to restore and re-open the 87-mile southern portion of the Grenada line, which has been closed since 2011.IRP is led by Gary Marino, a 35-plus-year rail industry veteran who founded and managed RailAmerica Inc. and Patriot Rail Corp. IRP’s senior management team — which collectively has more than 200 years of rail industry experience — "has proven expertise in acquiring and integrating new railroads, and in maximizing their potential through sales/marketing and operational efficiencies," said Evan Harwood, EGI’s managing director and a RailUSA board member, in a press release.“[EGI’s] past railroad industry experience coupled with their flexible capital approach to investing, and IRP’s robust rail acquisition pipeline positions us well to maximize the value of RailUSA,” said Marino. “We hope to exceed our past rail acquisition accomplishments.”EGI was founded 50 years ago by Sam Zell, who owned the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads in the 1980s and led an industry-wide rail-car consolidation effort. He sold his rail-car portfolio to GE Capital Railcar Services in 1992. “With an increasing need for first- and last-mile solutions for the [rail] customer, we see ongoing opportunities in the [short-line] space,” said EGI Co-President Mark Sotir.
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