Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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June 18, 2014

Short-haul freight service resumes after 45 years

RUSK — About 9:30 a.m. Monday, short-haul freight service resumed at the Texas State Railroad after a 45 year absence.

This is the first revenue generating freight service on the railroad’s line since Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC, took over as operator in August 2012, and the first on the railroad since before it became a historic passenger train operated by the state of Texas through Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The last freight hauler was Texas Southeastern Railroad, which leased the line in the 1960’s and gave up the lease in 1969.

The first freight customer is Big River Industries, who transported via Union Pacific Railroad two open-top hopper cars filled with lightweight volcanic aggregate, (ground up volcanic rock used in making building supplies,) from Erwinville, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge to the UP’s interchange in Palestine.

The Texas State Railroad picked up the cars at the interchange and transported them to its Palestine Depot where the aggregate was then moved via conveyor belt from the rail cars into two 18-wheelers.

One rail car carried 107,759 pounds or 60 tons of aggregate. The other carried 120,333 pounds or 60 tons. Big River Industries plans to ship two to eight such rail cars per week on the TSRR, with no pre-determined end date.

    The railroad is also in negotiations with several other potential freight customers.    

The start of short-haul freight service on the Texas State Railroad signals what everyone involved with the railroad hopes is a new era of financial stability. This business, combined with the fact that ridership on The Official Railroad of Texas was up 17.6% in 2013 and is currently up 25.2% over the first five months of 2013, is cause for celebration.

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