Iowa Pacific seeks to end Santa Cruz operations

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TEH1304226
A Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay passenger special departs the Santa Cruz boardwalk in December 2012.
Elrond Lawrence
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Chicago-based Iowa Pacific Holdings is seeking to end its contract as the operator of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.

Iowa Pacific subsidiary Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway has offered freight and seasonal excursion trains on 32-miles of tracks owned by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission since 2012.

Iowa Pacific officials told the Sentinel that disappointing performance and a dispute about whether Iowa Pacific or the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission should pay for damage to the tracks caused by last year's winter storms.

"Even though we see long-term potential in Santa Cruz, it requires long-term investment of a magnitude which is not justified," Kevin Busath, vice president of strategic planning, told the newspaper. "We have five years left on contract; no way we can get that back within that time."

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission noted that Iowa Pacific still owes the commission $60,000 related to unpaid fees on last year's Polar Express and on storing rail cars in Watsonville.

“I don’t know that they will pay it back,” Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission Deputy Director Luis Mendez said. “We are one of a line of entities trying to get payment from Iowa Pacific.”

Mendez said that the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission is seeking new operators and will provide a public report by Jan. 18, 2018.

The Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay is among a growing list of properties with which Iowa Pacific has cut ties due to contract disputes. In January, Iowa Pacific announced it could not fulfill the contract to operate the Hoosier State train between Indianapolis and Chicago. A month later, the company cut ties with the Piedmont & Northern in North Carolina, and in March was ousted as the operator of the Texas State Railroad.

Iowa Pacific did not respond to Trains News Wire’s request for comment.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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