Seminole Gulf Railway Operates First Test Train Across Caloosahatchee River

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
image description
Courtesy of Seminole Gulf Railway

FORT MYERS, Fla. – SGLR has operated its first test train across the entire span of the Caloosahatchee River after Hurricane Ian destroyed railroad bridges.

Seminole Gulf Railway (SGLR) has announced freight service has been restored to Fort Myers, Florida. According to the release, it has been 511 days (17 months) since Hurricane Ian hit the area. The storm surge destroyed the rail bridges that cross the Caloosahatchee River into Fort Myers. Now, SGLR has “successfully operated its first test train across the entire span of the river, delivering railcars trapped in Fort Myers back to the national rail system.” SGLR expects to begin regular freight service to Fort Myers in March 2024. It also expects to restore the entire route of the Murder Mystery Dinner Train in late spring 2024.

Over the last 17 months, The SGLR diverted freight traffic to its Sarasota Division while rebuilding the railroad bridge across the Peace River in Arcadia, Fl. Not only did SGLR rebuild several miles of track and 4 bridges and track structures across the Caloosahatchee River, but it “performed all of this work 100% at its own expense, utilizing its own financial resources.” Using concrete, carbon fiber, and other composites, SGLR completed the work with “built-in resiliency against future events.”

Congressman Byron Donalds (FL-19) submitted a bill for consideration to the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3782 – The Short Line Railroad Relief Act), but SGLR did not receive any relief aid from federal, state, or local sources after Hurricane Ian. However, SGLR continues to work with Congressman Donalds and the American Short Line Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) “to support legislation that would provide disaster relief funding for small railroads throughout the United States.” Currently, there are similar funding programs for other modes of transportation. 

SGLR operates from north Naples, FL to Arcadia, FL. There, it connects to CSX and the rest of the country. According to the release, the company also operates another line in Sarasota. In 2023, SGLR delivered 3,700 railcars (the equivalent of close to 15,000 truckloads) that carried materials such as drywall, lumber/plywood, rebar, and stone. 

Executive Vice President of Seminole Gulf Railway, Robert Fay, said, “This is an important milestone for southwest Florida. The freight moved over our railroad is essential to the region’s economy, and the restoration of rail service will enable that freight to be moved in the most efficient and environmentally sustainable manner.”

Further Reading

Tags: , , ,