Bid process could lead to trains running again on Saratoga & North Creek tracks

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Arizona Eastern Railroad E8 No. 6070, leads a Saratoga & North Creek Railway train past former Delaware & Hudson RS36 No. 5019 at the North Creek Depot in October 2011.
Dan Kittay
LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. — The idle tracks last used by the Saratoga & North Creek Railway in Upstate New York may see life again, if a request for proposals to either operate a railroad or buy the tracks is successful.

Warren County, N.Y., which owns 40 miles of the Class II track, issued the request for proposals to find an operator "interested in providing rolling stock and freight service with or without excursion trains" over the portion owned by the county. The request includes an additional 16 miles owned by the Town of Corinth, which run from the southern end of the county's tracks to the connection with the Canadian Pacific line that runs into Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Saratoga & North Creek, which is owned by Iowa Pacific, last operated passenger trains on the route in 2018. It stopped service, claiming it could not generate profits from passenger operations. An attempt to store freight cars for other railroads on the tracks it owns north of Warren County's tracks ran into strong resistance from state and local officials, and the cars were eventually removed. Those tracks are not part of the request for proposals.

One company that expressed interest is Denver-based OmniTRAX, which operates numerous railroads throughout the country. OmniTrax representative Ron Margulis says his company is negotiating with Iowa Pacific to purchase its portion of the line.

As OmniTRAX sees it, "it doesn't make sense for anybody to operate the line unless all three pieces come together," referring to the two municipally owned portions.

The interest in the privately owned portion, which runs from North Creek to Newcomb, N.Y., stems from the abandoned Tahawus titanium mine, which sits at the end of the line. There are mine tailings that have a market elsewhere, Margulis says. OmniTRAX is talking with manufacturers that can process the tailings, to determine the feasibility of establishing regular delivery service.

Margulis says it's too early to say, if the deal goes through, whether OmniTRAX would re-establish passenger service on the line.

So far, the county has seen interest in its request, but has not received proposals, says county Purchasing Agent Julie Butler. Butler says it's not unusual for those submitting proposals to wait until closer to the deadline. The deadline is April 18.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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