Monday, May 16, 2011

Fall startup eyed for North Carolina short line

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Officials in Gaston County, N.C., and Patriot Rail Corp. subsidiary Piedmont & Northern Railway seek to re-establish freight service linking Gastonia and Mount Holly, N.C., by this autumn on a local short line, though they believe actual resumption may not be achieved until January. 

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Boca Raton, Fla.-based Patriot Rail has created a subsidiary, Piedmont & Northern Railway, to operate the line. P&N Assistant General Manager Bill Bartosh says the company is making progress upgrading the line. “We have several customers we’re working with between Ranlo and Mount Holly,” he said. “A lot of people are taking a wait-and-see approach. But the reality is sinking in that the line will soon be open.”

The 13-mile P&N interchanges with CSX at Mount Holly, N.C., and with Norfolk Southern at Gastonia. The right-of-way was purchased in 1991 by the North Carolina Deparatment of Transportation. Gaston County acquired a $5 million state grant to help reopen and restore the line, and the state signed a five-year contract last year with Patriot Rail to operate the line.