The Surface Transportation Board (STB) on May 25 granted Grenada Railroad LLC’s (GRR) request for a partial waiver of a 60-day advance notice requirement, allowing the short line to enter into an asset purchase agreement and operate approximately 228 miles of rail line in Mississippi on or after May 28, 2023.
According to the STB decision (download below) the line comprises three segments: approximately 175.4 miles of main line between milepost 403.0 at Southaven, Miss. (GRY MP 491.09), and milepost 703.8 near Canton, Miss. (GRY MP 616.49), along with certain side and yard tracks (the Grenada Line); approximately 11.42 miles of branch line between a point of connection with the Grenada Line at milepost 603.0 and milepost 614.42 at Bruce Junction, Miss. (the Water Valley Branch); and about 21.70 miles of branch line between a point of connection with the Grenada Line at milepost H-0.20 at Aberdeen Junction, Miss., and milepost H-21.90 near Kosciusko, Miss. (the Aberdeen Branch).
GRR, which received Honorable Mention in Railway Age’s 2021 Short Line and Regional Railroad Awards program, has run the Grenada Line and the Water Valley Branch since 2015. “The parties [GRR, North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority and Grenada Railway, LLC] entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement on April 27, 2023, whereby GRR would continue to operate the Grenada Line and the Water Valley Branch and would become the authorized operator on the Aberdeen Branch,” the STB reported.
“GRR states that its current rail revenues exceed $5 million and will likely do so following the consummation of the transaction,” STB pointed out in its decision. “Therefore, unless waived, 49 C.F.R. § 1150.42(e) would require GRR, at least 60 days before the exemption becomes effective, to post a notice of its intent to undertake the proposed transaction setting forth certain information at the workplace of the employees on the affected lines, serve a copy of the notice on the national offices of the labor unions with employees on the affected lines, and certify to the Board that it has done so. Although GRR posted notice of the proposed transaction at the workplace of GRR’s existing employees on the Lines and certified that it has done so on April 28, 2023, GRR petitioned for partial waiver of these notice requirements so that the transaction can proceed after 30 days’ notice to GRR’s employees.”
According to the STB, “[i]n furtherance of its waiver request, GRR claims that there would be no operational changes on the Lines and that none of its employees would be affected …. It adds that neither NCMRRA nor GRY has any rail carrier employees and that the Aberdeen Branch has been out of service since prior to NCMRRA’s acquisition of that line … No opposition to the waiver request has been filed.”
Because no employees would be adversely affected by the requested partial waiver of the 60-day notice period, STB said it would grant the waiver.
GRR is a subsidiary of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Gulf & Atlantic Railways (G&AR), and has access to all six Class I carriers: CN, Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Canadian Pacific-Kansas City Southern and CSX. G&AR also operates the 430-mile Florida, Gulf & Atlantic Railroad, and on March 27 reported signing an agreement to acquire the three Midwestern railroads from Midwestern & Bluegrass Rail.