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Rail report pleases locals

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The sale of a Canadian National Railroad line to shortline operator Grenada Railway, LLC, has had local businesses and officials concerned about the future of the rail in Tate County, Miss., The Democrat reports But after a report by Larry Hart, current Water Valley mayor and a former railroad employee, things might be better than they first seemed.  

The report, presented to
the boards of aldermen of both municipalities and the Tate County Board of
Supervisors recently by Tate County Economic Development Foundation Executive
Director Janie Mortimer, detailed the changes that have come to the line in
recent months. Mortimer said that Hart had retained ties to the railroad
industry, and had been working closely with them during this transition. She
was hopeful that the new owners would continue their improvements to the line.

 

Canadian National sold its
Grenada Line to Grenada Railway, LLC, earlier this year. The shortline operator
now runs the railway from Memphis to Canton. A spur of that line, known as the
Water Valley Spur, runs to Mayor Hart’s town.

 

Another line, known as
the Natchez Line, was sold to Natchez Railway, LLC. Both companies are
subsidiaries of V&S Railway, a shortline rail operator, and A&K
Railroad Materials, a railroad salvage company.

 

According to Hart’s
report, Grenada Railway has leased out two of CN’s engines, and purchased two
more. The engines do not run along the line every day, he reported, but
approximately every other day. The company is running the line in two segments,
Grenada-to-Memphis and Grenada-to-Canton.

 

Many concerned parties
were relieved to hear that not only are the trains running, but also that
Grenada Railway had increased business on the line with new spurs in Sardis and
Horn Lake. Grenada Railway and Natchez Railway had agreed as part of the sale
terms to operate the lines for at least two years, and try to increase
business.

 

Hart also reported that
Grenada Railway, which had contracted out most of its maintenance work, was in
the process of checking on their equipment and infrastructure. Private
contractors will also eventually be handling the dispatching operations for the
line, which are still being done by CN for the present.

 

The company has also
hired a general manager, Hart said, who will be moving to the area soon and
have an office in Grenada.

 

As far as customer
service, Hart said, "Customers should be more comfortable in the area of
service, since they are dealing with a smaller railroad and a more hands-on
management."

 

Hart reported that there
were two "problematic" bridges on the Grenada line, but that the
company was seeking out sources of funding to help correct the problems. The
repairs, according to Hart’s report, are expected to be in the $2 million
range.

 

"After having had much
involvement with the upper management of the parent company of Grenada
Railway," Hart said in his report, "I am thoroughly convinced that it
is their intention to make Grenada Railway a successful company."

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