Iowa Northern Railway to add new branch

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Iowa Northern Railway will expand its footprint in the northern part of its home state next month with the acquisition of nearly 30 miles of track from Union Pacific. The ex-Rock Island line stretches from Forest City to Belmond, Iowa, and Iowa Northern will reach it via trackage rights over Canadian Pacific.

Railroad President Dan Sabin tells TRAINS News Wire that three grain elevators on the line have done limited rail shipping in recent years. Instead, they’ve mostly opted to truck grain to shuttle-loading elevators elsewhere. Iowa Northern will offer those shippers a connection to Archer Daniels Midland’s massive corn processing plant at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“It’s probably been 10-15 years since anyone shipped meaningful volumes out of there,” he said. All three will be able to load 25-car cuts.

Iowa Northern will use CP trackage rights from Nora Springs and Plymouth, Iowa, westward through Mason City to reach the line at Garner, Iowa. The old connection track at Garner has been removed, so the railroad plans to install a new connection.

In addition to agricultural business, Sabin says he hopes to draw business from Winnebago Industries, which manufactures recreational vehicles in Forest City. That business historically moved by rail, but truckers have hauled it exclusively in recent years. In addition, “We’ve got a number of leads on new business,” Sabin says.

The railroad hopes to close on the deal by mid-June.
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