Thursday, February 18, 2010

TIGER, Stimulus and The Corman Group

The R. J. Corman Railroad Group, one of my favorite rail companies, is on the receiving end of some of the TIGER funds of the stimulus package. Funds that will rehabilitate some of the aging trackage that they lease from CSX, trackage that CSX let deteriorate as they lost freight market share to the trucking industry. Yes, it is the same trucking industry that has been propped up by the highway subsidies since the early '50s.

The funds will be used to rehabilitate roadbed and ties on the three short lines, the Central Kentucky line, the Bardstown line and the Memphis line. The amount of work will require approximately 100 additional positions and be spread from Winchester to Louisville and Bowling Green to Tennessee.

These rail infrastructure upgrades will allow more freight to be hauled at a cheaper cost in terms of our carbon footprint if not actual drayage fees. Such upgrades may also allow the possibility of regional passenger rail but I think that it is too soon to tell on that one. Some other recent upgrades, that did not involve federal dollars, included the tunnel expansion in Frankfort and several new sidings along the route to Louisville in anticipation of some type of increased rail movements and excursions.

If my hunch is right, this may not be the only contact that the Corman Group has with stimulus money. Another big award was for The National Gateway Rail Corridor on the CSX System in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio that totals $98 million. This project involves enlarging tunnels to allow containerized freight moving in double-stack trains to be able to shave off about 200 miles and up to a day’s transit time between the East Coast and the Midwest. Coincidentally, Corman has recently completed three good sized tunnels for the Norfolk-Southern Heartland Corridor project. The National Gateway Corridor also feeds several of Corman's short lines in Pennsylvania. It would only be logical for Corman to pick up some of this work.

How all of this ties into the plans of Warren Buffet and the BNSF or the CN expansion plans along the former Illinois Central corridor, I can only speculate but I would love to be proven right on some of my earlier hunches.

1 comment:

D Morse said...

Note that the Paducah and Louisville Railway, my favorite KY railway, did NOT get their TIGER grant. :(