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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Santa Cruz RTC OKs pact with Progressive Rail for freight service


The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) late last week approved an agreement that allows Progressive Rail Inc. to provide freight-rail service on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail line in California.

The administration, coordination and license agreement will allow Progressive Rail to take over operations from the line's current operator, Iowa Pacific Holdings.

Progressive Rail will provide freight service to customers in the south county area, according to a press release issued by the RTC.

With a vote of 8 to 4, the commissioners approved the agreement with two amendments: The first calls for rail cars to be stored only in locations approved by the commission. The second amendment removed language that would have allowed the railroad to store equipment and materials at a location known as Wrigley's, RTC officials said.

The agreement is structured in two phases. The first engages Progressive Rail to provide freight service on the line's south end to customers in Watsonville. Winter storm damage and a washout near Harkins Slough prevent access to the remainder of the line until repairs are made.

The agreement's second phase will start after the RTC completes a corridor study and determines future use of the rail line. If the commission decides to keep tracks in place and pursue potential passenger-rail service consistent with existing policy, then the agreement will remain in place for 10 more years. The agreement also will include the entire length of the 32-mile line.

If the RTC decides to remove the tracks beyond Watsonville, then Progressive Rail has the option to pull out of the agreement, officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/18/2018