Coos Bay Rail Link signs 10-year operating agreement

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Coos Bay Shane Gill
Shane Gill
COOS BAY, Ore. – Coos Bay Rail Link and the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay have signed a 10-year agreement authorizing Coos Bay Rail Link to be the regular operator the 134-mile line. Headquartered in Coos Bay, the railroad has been running revenue freight trains since October 12, 2011, under an interim agreement with the Port.

“This long-term agreement assures stability for the railroad,” Coos Bay Rail Link General Manager Tom Foster says. “It is important for shippers, employees, and communities along the line to know that their railroad is here to stay.”

Coos Bay Rail Link is a wholly owned subsidiary of ARG Transportation Services, a railroad investment company based in Eugene. ARG began operations in November 2003 when it acquired the San Pedro & Southwestern Railroad from RailAmerica.

“This gives Coos Bay Rail Link the flexibility and responsibility to run the railroad, while assuring income to the Port from customers, who are lowering their shipping costs and carbon footprint, compared to truck,” ARG President and CEO Scott Parkinson says.

Coos Bay Rail Link connects with the Union Pacific at Eugene, operating southwest via Coos Bay to Coquille. Principal commodities include wood products, bulk shipments, steel, and dairy feed.

The railroad is benefitting from a $31 million track improvement program. The first phase was completed in April with installation of new ties, fresh track ballast and surfacing of the entire line. Inspection of the line’s 115 bridges has been completed and, where needed, renewal of structures is underway.

“It’s been exciting to restore freight rail service to the region,” Foster says. “We are providing more frequent service to customers, enabling them to increase production.”

Foster’s goal is to double carloadings to 5,000 this year. “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,” he says.

Earlier this year, the railroad restored service go Coquille for the first time in more than five years. The Central Oregon & Pacific owned and operated the Coos Bay line until 2007. The Port of Coos Bay purchased the line 2010 and started reopening it in 2011.
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