The Louisville & Indiana Railroad (LIRC) and the Rapid City Pierre & Eastern accepted Railway Age’s annual Short Line & Regional Railroads of the Year Awards at the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) CONNECTIONS Convention in Orlando, Fla., on April 9.
Short Line of the Year LIRC, a subsidiary of Anacostia Rail Holdings, marks 25 years of operations this year, having started March 12, 1994. Anacostia Rail Holdings President and CEO Peter Gilbertson and LIRC President John Goldman accepted the award.
In announcing LIRC as this year’s award winner, Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono said, “2018 marked the culmination of a significant physical transformation for LIRC, as the direct result of a creative partnership with CSX Transportation that began more than five years ago. It’s a remarkable story of vision, patience, transformation and execution.”
LIRC upgraded its entire 106-mile main line between Louisville, Ky. and Indianapolis, Ind. by installing heavier 136-pound. continuous-welded rail and replacing a 119-year old bridge across the Flat Rock River in Columbus, Ind. Completion of a second 10,000-foot passing siding next year will expand capacity and finish the $100 million project.
LIRC President John Goldman noted, “The Short Line of the Year award is very special, because it reflects success for the entire organization from bottom to top, side to side, and all points in between. This award reflects the dedication, vision, hard work and perseverance of so many people including the Anacostia corporate team and our contractors.”
Gilbertson observed, “The upgrade has created a much better railroad for both LIRC and CSX, which will be able to accommodate a significant increase in train traffic more safely and more efficiently over an important rail corridor serving mid-America. But LIRC is much more than this upgrade. It reflects the efforts of an innovative and dedicated group that has consistently grown revenue while conducting safe operations”
Regional of the Year RCPE, a Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary, “represents a successful public-private partnership involving customers and government,” Vantuono noted. “The 670-mile RCPE, which began operations June 1, 2014, had zero FRA-reportable injuries for 2016, 2017 and 2018; invested more than $80 million into its infrastructure; grew revenues by more than 20%; lowered its operating ratio from 73% to 61%; and attracted more than $300 million in new customer investments generating 20,000 projected new carloads.”
G&W Vice President of Transportation Midwest Region Blake Jones accepted the award on behalf of RCPE.
More than $80 million of investment in infrastructure and equipment since 2014, including internal capital and federal and state grants, has contributed to RCPE’s success. Replacing 100-year-old rail allowed for longer trains and increased speeds from Wall, S.Dak., east as well as fuel and labor savings. Building three additional sidings along the line doubled capacity; customer cars no longer get left behind during crucial peak harvest or construction seasons. Five “heavy bad-order” six-axle locomotives were repaired, and 2,000 railcars were purchased to meet customer demand. Customers have responded to these efforts—including planning two new plants along the line, one re-opening a facility and another expanding an existing operation—with a total of $300 million in investment and a potential 20,000 new carloads for RCPE.