International Rail Partners LLC (IRP) has acquired Grenada Railroad LLC (Grenada) from Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC (IPH), IRP announced on Aug. 7.
IRP will operate Grenada through a lease-purchase agreement with the North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority (NCMRRA), officials said.
IRP began rail operations on the line effective Aug. 2. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. acted as the exclusive financial advisor to IRP regarding the acquisition.
“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of the Grenada Railroad, the first by our newly-formed rail venture. We look forward to working with NCMRRA, shippers and the local community to grow and enhance Grenada’s short line rail operation,” said Gary O. Marino, IRP’s chairman and CEO. “Our company has strong financial backing that, combined with our own capital, will provide the funding necessary to compete in the reinvigorated rail acquisition market. We plan to strategically invest where significant value can be added through our organizational expertise.”
Marino was formerly the founder, president and CEO of shortline railroad holding companies RailAmerica, Inc. and Patriot Rail Corp.
Grenada operates 212 miles of rail line between Memphis, Tenn., and Canton, Miss. The railroad currently transports about 10,000 carloads of freight per year, including commodities such as forest products, plastics, petroleum products, flour and grain.
Grenada interchanges with Canadian National at Southaven, Miss., and has access to four additional Class 1 railroads, including Norfolk Southern, CSX Corporation, BNSF and Union Pacific, allowing for rail connections throughout North America.
“Grenada’s location makes it a highly desirable rail freight service provider for shippers in northern and central Mississippi and a prime railcar storage location,” a statement said.
Grenada also expects to continue operating the popular Christmas-themed tourist passenger train at Batesville, Miss.
IRP, collaborating with the NCMRRA, said it aims to restore and re-open the 81-mile southern portion of the line running from Grenada to Canton, Miss., which has been closed since 2011.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a $7.5 million grant to assist with rehabilitating the line, which will enable IRP to market rail services to a region that officials said is growing and has been underserved.
“The NCMRRA looks forward to working with IRP to provide safe and dependable rail service to customers on GRYR,” said Larry Hart, president of NCMRRA. “In addition, the anticipated re-opening of the line south of Grenada, as identified by MDOT, is expected to provide new access for shippers and enhance economic development in central Mississippi.”
Based in Boca Raton, Fla., IRP is focused on acquiring and operating North American railroads, as well as ancillary rail services throughout North America.