Monday, May 04, 2009

New Jersey short line gets federal funding

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The Salem County Short Line railroad, located in New Jersey’s southwestern quadrant south of Philadelphia, will get $950,000 in federal funding to bolster freight rail traffic in the region and, possibly, improve ship-to-rail intermodal movements.

New Jersey’s two U.S. senators, Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (both Democrats), and Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo are credited with securing the funding for the 18-mile short line, which runs from Swedesboro to the port of Salem on the Delaware River.

"Our rail line is a crucial element to Salem County'seconomy and a critical factor in the continued economic development," said county Freeholder Deputy Director Beth Timberman. "Investment in our rail line is truly economic stimulus."

Current customers on the short line include floor covering manufacturer Mannington Mills, the South Jersey Farmers Exchange, and Anchor Glass Container Corp.

"It's crucial that we invest in the type of projectsthat will create jobs and keep the economic engine of Salem County running," Menendez said. "The rail line supports our vital manufacturing and agricultural centers and it helps create employment."

One local rail industry observer tells Railway Age that the upgrade in Salem County may aid efforts in neighboring Gloucester County, north of Salem, to restore passenger rail service there. Existing freight rail service provided by Conrail Shared Assets almost certainly would increase along with any increased traffic traversing the Salem County Short Line, necessitating track upgrades and, possibly, more track capacity to handle both freight and passenger traffic expected.