Small Road News: OmniTRAX, Patriot Rail, RBMN Boosting Business

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway represents the first “bolt-on acquisition” by Patriot since Sydney, Australia-based global asset manager First Sentier Investors acquired Patriot in October 2019. (Photo by James Belmont.)

Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway represents the first “bolt-on acquisition” by Patriot since Sydney, Australia-based global asset manager First Sentier Investors acquired Patriot in October 2019. (Photo by James Belmont.)

Denver-based OmniTRAX is connecting rail-served properties along its 113-mile Illinois Railway (IR) with customers interested in locating there. Additionally, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Patriot Rail Co. LLC is acquiring 26-mile Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway (SLGW) in Utah and its storage and transload service providers, Caballero LLC and Caballero 2 LLC. As well, Reading & Northern Railroad (RBMN) opened a new transload facility for a Delta, Ohio-based steel mill.

OmniTRAX is working with Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the city of Peru, Ill., to market four sites totaling 1,154 acres and five parcels totaling 530 acres, respectively, along IR. The group is focusing on attracting automotive assembly and parts manufacturing, aerospace component manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, value-added agriculture, and logistics/warehousing business. IR interchanges with BNSF, CSX, Union Pacific (UP), Canadian Pacific, Norfolk Southern and CN.

“With great infrastructure connecting Rockford and Peru to Chicago and points east, Minneapolis and points west and St. Louis to the south, companies locating here can get their products to market more effectively than most areas of the country,” said Ean Johnson Vice President of Industrial Development at OmniTRAX, an affiliate of The Broe Group.

OmniTRAX recently expanded its Rail-Ready Sites program to the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway (BRG) in Cameron County, Texas.

For Patriot, terms of the SLGW deal were not disclosed; it represents the first “bolt-on acquisition” by Patriot since Sydney, Australia-based global asset manager First Sentier Investors acquired Patriot in October 2019. SLGW, which has operating continuously in Salt Lake City for 125 years, handles more than 6,000 carloads annually and interchanges with UP and BNSF.

“The agreement aligns with Patriot’s vision of future growth as a premier service provider in the U.S. short line railway industry and complements the Patriot portfolio,” said Patriot CEO John Fenton. “The state of Utah is thriving with growth projects. Patriot is excited to participate in these initiatives and we look forward to the evolving opportunities.”

“This partnership with Patriot Rail affords us more access to expertise, resources and capital to serve the growing needs of our expanding customer base,” added SLGW CEO Mariana Mavor. 

Patriot Rail & Ports recently hired Roquita C. Williams to join the commercial team as Assistant Vice President Sales.

Jeffrey Popovich of Metal X (left), Bill Clark of RBMN (center) and Casey Stump of Ag Trucking (right) stand in front of the newly furnished conveyor to transload railcars into pneumatic trucks for delivery to NorthStar/BlueScope in Delta, Ohio.

The first cars have been unloaded at RBMN’s newest transload facility that serves NorthStar/BlueScope, which is expanding production. RBMN—which runs about 400 miles from Reading, Pa., to Mehoopany, Pa.—began working with the mill in 2018 to convert Anthracite coal shipments originating in Pennsylvania to rail and to establish the facility. The railroad supplied unloading equipment, secured dedicated pneumatic trucks, negotiated with one of the steel mill’s suppliers to locate the site, and purchased additional covered hoppers for the service. The efforts of Norfolk Southern, Indiana and Ohio Railway, Ag Trucking and Metal X “made this new business possible,” the railroad said.

The railroad has similar facilities in Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina, which it noted, “have helped RBMN shippers of Anthracite reach their customers by rail, reducing logistics costs and improving service to steel mills located throughout the United States.”

RBMN was Railway Age’s 2002, 2011, 2015 and 2020 Regional of the Year.

In other news, RBMN recently delivered the first plastic pellet hopper railcars to IRIS USA, its newest customer in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton, Pa.

Categories: Class I, Freight, Intermodal, News, Regulatory, Short Lines & Regionals, Switching & Terminal Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,