U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) launched his push for the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2013 while visiting Saratoga Train Station in New York.
This legislation extends a tax credit, which will expire on January 1, 2014, to shortline railroads, such as the Saratoga and North Creek (S&NC), for infrastructure improvement projects through 2016. Schumer explained that the S&NC railway has been a success for tourism and is looking to upgrade rail infrastructure to increase ridership for passenger service, as well as begin hauling minerals out of two Adirondack mines. Currently, the rail line serves approximately 50,000 passengers per year, bringing leaf peepers, skiers and holiday travelers from Saratoga through Thurman and into Warren County.
Schumer’s bill would aid efforts to increase that ridership by enabling track maintenance along the current passenger route and would also aid in the effort to begin freight service in the Adirondacks. Specifically, S&NC has obtained about $300,000 worth of these tax credits for maintenance between Saratoga and North Creek for the past two years and would seek to utilize an additional $300,000 in credits to help make improvements to both the passenger and freight rail portions of the S&NC rail line.
Schumer explained that the tax credit, if extended into 2014, would fund capital improvement projects along the S&NC passenger line, to add new routes and provide more seamless integration with other forms of transportation. Schumer also pointed to the freight rail line that runs north of North Creek, the Tahawus line, which is in need of renovations and improvements. In 2014, the S&NC will re-commission the Tahawus line and begin hauling Titanium tailings left over from mining during World War II in the Adirondacks and also serve the Barton garnet min in North River.
Schumer is pushing the extension of the shortline rail tax credit until January 1, 2017, because it is a boon for regional manufacturers, smaller railways, local employees and, ultimately, consumers across New York state.