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Coos Bay Rail Link (CBR) and the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay recently signed a 10-year agreement authorizing CBR to serve as operator for a 134-mile rail line the port acquired in 2009.Owned by ARG Transportation Services, CBR has been operating trains on the line since October 2011 under an interim agreement."This long-term agreement assures stability for the railroad," said CBR General Manager Tom Foster in a press release, adding that the short line plans to double carloads this year to 5,000. "Having direct rail access to the Port of Coos Bay on Oregon’s south coast is a significant and under-utilized asset that we hope to grow."CBR interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad in Eugene, Ore., and operates southwest via Coos Bay to Coquille, Ore. Principal commodities moved on the line include wood products, bulk materials, steel and dairy feed.CBR will benefit from a $31 million track improvement program on the line, ARG Transportation Services officials said. The first phase, which was completed in April, involved the installation of ties and ballast, and surfacing work along the entire line. The line’s 115 bridges have been inspected and, where needed, structure renewals are under way.Meanwhile, SMART Transportation Division-represented train and engine workers employed by Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad Co. have ratified a new five-year agreement, the United Transportation Union (UTU) announced on Friday.The agreement provides wage increases equal to the 2011 national UTU agreement, including percentage increases to crew consist payments, full back pay and training pay hikes. The pact also establishes a health and welfare benefit package that replicates a national package, UTU officials said.Owned by Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad primarily transports iron ore over a 16-mile line from the Empire-Tilden Mine south of Ishpeming, Mich., to Lake Superior.
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