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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Northern Lights Rail plans launch in Saskatchewan; Georgia port board adds Sandersville's Tarbutton

A new short line plans to begin operating between Melfort and Birch Hills, Saskatchewan, in spring, thanks in part to an interest-free loan the railroad obtained from the provincial government.

Northern Lights Rail has purchased 37 miles of track from CN and soon will become the 14th short line to operate in the province. The Saskatchewan government provided the short line a $550,000 interest-free loan to assist with the purchase. Northern Lights Rail also plans to open two loading facilities in the near future.

"Retaining rail infrastructure is important for supporting agriculture and economic development in the region," said Northern Lights Railroad President Wayne Bacon in a press release. "Throughout the purchase process, a good working relationship was established between municipalities and towns with great support from producers, and we had tremendous support from CN and the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, as well."

The province previously has offered loans and advice to help community groups, local stakeholders and local governments purchase short lines.

"We're pleased to support the establishment of Northern Lights Rail and the expansion of our province's network of short-line railways," said Highways and Infrastructure Minister Nancy Heppner. "These railways provide grain producers and other shippers with an effective and competitive transportation option that helps to reduce the wear and tear on our highways."

After Northern Lights Rail launches operations, Saskatchewan's 14 short lines will operate more than 1,200 miles of provincially-regulated track.

Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in early February appointed Charles Tarbutton to the Georgia Ports Authority board.

Assistant vice president of the Sandersville Railroad Co., Tarbutton serves as a board member for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Georgia Railroad Association, Georgia Power Co., Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Brentwood School.

He has served the Sandersville Railroad for 27 years. Based in Sandersville, Ga., the short line operates 32 miles of track, including 10 miles of mainlines, and interchanges with Norfolk Southern Railway.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/6/2015