Iowa short line starts up this week

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Centerville, Iowa
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WASHINGTON — Operations began Monday on the Iowa Southern Railway, a 35-mile short line between Centerville and Albia, Iowa. The line is the newest addition to Lakeville, Minn., based Progressive Rail's short line group. It will operate as a subsidiary of the Iowa Traction Railway in Mason City, Iowa.

The railroad was cobbled together in 1983 from bits of the Burlington Northern, Rock Island, and Norfolk Southern as the Appanoose County Community Railroad, a public, non-profit company. Progressive Rail is leasing the line from the community railroad.

“We feel the line has good prospects for traffic growth,” said Michael Johns, general manager of Iowa Traction.

The railroad has connections with BNSF Railway, NS, and Canadian Pacific, but traffic had dwindled to some 400 cars per year.

Johns says the Iowa Southern sees potential growth in transloading. There are two transload facilities in Centerville and Albia, with the possibility of a third in Moravia. He also sees growth in the bulk shipment of agricultural and energy commodities.

“We're close enough that we can be a player in the Des Moines transload market,” Johns says.

In 2012 the railroad received $650,000 in federal and local grants to replace a bridge and put new ties into some 9.5 miles of right of way, according to a local newspaper.

“Although the [community railroad] has remained steady in the face of an economic slowdown, we wanted growth to make the [community railroad] as strong as possible to maintain the economic benefits of having rail service available to the industries along our line,” said Jeff Burns, community railroad board president. “We knew we needed to partner with someone knowledgeable and forward-thinking, and could see the potential in southern Iowa.”

Burns said that community railroad customers were accustomed to personalized service, and that Progressive Rail will make service more secure and stable.''

Johns said that the Iowa Southern will operate five days a week out of Centerville. Four employees have been assigned to the operation.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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