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R. J. Corman Railroad Co. closed on its acquisition of the former Carolina Southern Railroad short line on Monday, and already has begun work to restore it to service.The company, which operates 10 other short lines, expects to begin moving freight on the rail line within six months. The line stretches from Mullins, S.C., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and connects to lines in North Carolina."We have a lot of work ahead of us to bring this line up to operating standards," said R. J. Corman Railroad Group President and Chief Executive Officer Craig King in a company press release. "But … we also have vision and determination. In addition, we have hard-working and talented crews to make that happen."Local and state officials praised R. J. Corman's plan to renew the short line and its potential to stimulate economic growth and development. For local officials, the sound of train whistles in Columbus, Marion and Horry counties can't come soon enough, they said. "In addition to being more cost effective for our industries and producers, the railroad will reduce highway congestion, making travel easier and safer for residents and the millions of people who visit the Grand Strand every year," said Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus."Our county is poised for significant economic growth with the renewal of this railroad," said Columbus County Manager William Clark. "That missing link has been costing our businesses money and making it difficult to attract new companies and grow existing ones. We're grateful to R. J. Corman for stepping up to make our transportation system better."Bridge structural problems caused Carolina Southern to stop operations about four years ago, local news media reported.
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