The Red River Valley & Western Railroad Company (RRV&W), a shortline railroad that provides local rail freight service to mostly rural North Dakota communities formerly served by the Burlington Northern, now BNSF Railway, will mark its 25th anniversary July 19.
Since beginning freight operations in 1987, annual volume has increased 141 percent to 55,600 carloads last year. During this time, RRV&W has moved more than 900,000 cars of grain, corn sweetener, sugar, ethanol, machinery and other products. Employment has risen from 46 to nearly 100 with an annual payroll of $5.8 million.
Red River Valley & Western President Andy Thompson said, “The biggest thing that has fueled the success of the RRV&W is the relationship we have created between the railroad and the customers and communities we serve. Meeting and exceeding the expectations of our customers has been the number one job of RRV&W employees. They have been the key to achieving our success.”
RRV&W has spent about $27 million for capital improvements along its 577-mile route including heavier rail, bridge upgrades, freight cars and track maintenance equipment. In addition, the railroad now spends approximately $5 million annually on track maintenance.
Most recently, RRV&W partnered with Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton to build more than two miles of track, including a 7500-ft. “loop track.” Thompson said, “This new track is expediting rail service at the sugar plant, benefiting local producers and the regional economy.”
In 2010, the railroad installed a 7,000-ft. siding at Casselton to handle the business growth that has occurred in the area.
Thompson noted that shortline railroads, such as the Red River Valley & Western, benefit customers and local economies by preserving and improving rail service to smaller communities.
“Today, some 550 regional and shortline railroads pick up or deliver one out of every four railroad cars moving in the U.S.,” said Thompson.