Panhandle Line Lease Transfer Approved
ORDC Commissioners OK Transfer to Genesee & Wyoming Inc
(Columbus) – ORDC Commissioners made some Ohio Railroad history Thursday in officially transferring the operating lease of the state-owned Panhandle Line for the first time since the state first took possession of the railroad in the 1990’s. By a vote of 9 to 0, Commissioners approved the transfer of the existing five-year lease from the Ohio Central Railroad System to the Connecticut-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc (GWI).
GWI recently announced it is purchasing the Ohio Central Railroad, but the operating lease for the Panhandle Line had to be approved by the full Commission. The 161-mile long line quite literally constitutes the spine of the Ohio Central Railroad and has gone from producing barely over 2,000 carloads of freight in the 1990’s to over 25,000 carloads of freight today… and growing.
Genesee & Wyoming Senior Vice-President David Collins said, “We’ve watched (owner) Jerry Jacobsen and CEO Bill Strawn build a very nice property.” Collins also said “the State of Ohio’s attitude and acceptance toward rail was also important in our decision.”
Genesee & Wyoming Executive Chairman Mortimer B. Fuller III indicated to Commissioners the company plans to not just retain current Ohio Central employees and maintain business, but grow the company and service to shippers. He also expressed that the company would be interested in continuing discussions on a long-term lease. Such discussion had been on-going with the Ohio Central for well over a year.
Genesee & Wyoming Inc operates short line and regional railroads in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Australia.
In other business, Commissioner approved:
- A grant & loan package totaling $600,000 for the rehabilitation of 10 miles of track between Springfield and Washington Courthouse owned by WESTCO (West Central Ohio Port Authority. The line is vital to a number or area shippers and also serves the State of Ohio’s 2,400-acre Job-Ready Mega-Site.
- A grant of up to $225,000 for rehabilitation of track and a freight-yard for the Maumee & Western Railroad at Defiance. This would help allow both heavier rail car service to major local shippers and better connections with other railroads.
- A grant of $163,070 for bridge and track improvements to the RJ Corman railroad lines Western Ohio. This improves rail lines that serve 25 shippers that employ over 3,000 people in and near Lima, Celina, Fort Recovery and Minister.
Staff also approved the following:
- A $50,000 grant for bridge deck repair along the Ashland Railroad between Ashland and Mansfield, Ohio, improving safety and service to 6 shippers.
- A $100,000 grant for continuing track improvements to the Camp Chase Railroad at Columbus, which will preserve unit-train service to a grain elevator and to development sites along the rail line.
- A $25,000 grant to complete a bridge repair project on the Ohi-Rail “Piney Fork” line between Minerva and Amsterdam, Ohio.
(The Ohio Rail Development Commission is an independent agency operating within the Ohio Department of Transportation. ORDC is responsible for economic development through the improvement and expansion of passenger and freight rail services and railroad grade crossing safety. For more information about what ORDC does for Ohio, visit our website at http://www.dot.state.oh.us/ohiorail/)