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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Short lines: Watco promotes Loeb to SVP; Sierra Railroad marks end to long litigation


Watco Transportation Services L.L.C. has appointed Stefan Loeb senior vice president of marketing and strategic development.

He will be responsible for the organic growth initiatives of Watco's North American railroads and contract switching locations. Loeb also will continue to support executive leadership in such strategic areas as business development and Class I relationships. Senior Vice President of Transportation Marketing and Sales Kirk Hawley will continue to lead the transportation marketing team and report to Loeb.

In 2010, Loeb joined Watco as vice president of business development. In that role, he led and assisted with several acquisitions, including the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, Birmingham Terminal Railway, Ann Arbor Railroad and Autauga Northern Railroad.

Prior to joining Watco, Loeb was VP of client management for Bank of America from 2008 to 2010. He served in various roles at LaSalle Bank From 2001 to 2008, moving up from credit analyst to VP of surface transportation.

Meanwhile, Sierra Railroad Co. expects to soon begin recovering financially after more than five years of litigation in a suit against Patriot Rail Corp. recently ended with a $39.6 million award for compensatory and punitive damages. The California jury's verdict was one of the largest verdicts in the history of Eastern District Court No. 7, and of the other six, five were won by the U.S. government, said Sierra Railroad President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Hart in an email.

The jury found that Patriot Rail Corp. breached its non-disclosure agreement with Sierra Railroad, committed fraud, willfully and maliciously engaged in the theft of Sierra's trade secrets and interfered with Sierra's rail service contract at McClellan Business Park in Sacramento, Calif., Hart said in a press release. In 2012, Patriot Rail Corp. changed its name to Patriot Rail Co. L.L.C. after it was acquired by SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners.

The long litigation deeply impacted not just Sierra Railroad, but its other businesses, including the Sierra Northern Railway, Sierra Railroad Dinner Train, Sacramento RiverTrain, Skunk Train and Sierra Energy, said Hart, adding that Sierra lost millions in revenue and lost business opportunities.

"This verdict is a critical step toward our being made whole again, enabling us to repay our debts and to propel Sierra Energy’s FastOx™ gasification technology forward as a way to cleanly create energy from waste," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/8/2014