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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Santa Cruz commission seeks rail operator for UP line in California


The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) is soliciting proposals for an operator of freight- and recreational passenger-rail service on the Santa Cruz branch line between Watsonville Junction and Davenport, Calif.

A pre-proposal conference will be held March 14 in Santa Cruz, Calif., and proposals are due March 28.

The SCCRTC had negotiated with Union Pacific Railroad for more than 10 years to arrive at a sale agreement for the line. The parties now are working to close the transaction, which calls for the commission to purchase about 31 route miles of right of way and standard gauge rail line between Watsonville Junction and Davenport from the Class I for $14.2 million. The line also is known as UP’s Santa Cruz Subdivision.

Under the agreement’s terms, the SCCRTC will assume “ownership, care and control” of the subdivision, and spend $5 million to improve structures on the route, according to a request for proposals (RFP). The commission anticipates the acquisition will take effect on or about June 1, at which time all responsibility for rail operations will be transferred to the selected operator. Rail operations are expected to begin on July 1.

“SCCRTC’s vision for the subdivision includes providing freight service to rail-served customers on the [line], as well as implementing recreational passenger-rail service over the subdivision,” commission officials said in the RFP.

The selected operator will be responsible for maintaining the right of way and infrastructure, and providing qualified train and engine crews, and supervisory and support personnel.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/1/2012