Texas Short Line Begins FRA-Funded Project

An Iowa Pacific Holdings short line railroad in Texas launched a major upgrade over 70 miles of track, using a recent loan from the Federal Railroad Administration.

West Texas & Lubbock Railway said its $9.4 million project is part of $64.4 million in a loan package the FRA approved this fall for Chicago-based Iowa Pacific from its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Finance program.

That was the first RRIF loan approved this year by the FRA. The low-interest, long-term federal financing is mainly targeted at small railroads.

Iowa Pacific said it is using the loan to pay off bank debt and for 200 miles of track upgrades on WT&L and on its separate Texas-New Mexico Railroad subsidiary. That work, the company said, is "designed to reduce slow orders, improve handling of hazardous materials, and permit longer, heavier trains."

Company President Ed Ellis said the RRIF funding will pay for "the last major rehabilitation needed on our lines, and future capital investments will be for improved running times and terminal capacity."

WT&L's 70-mile project will improve the trackbed, replace crossties and upgrade 20 road-rail grade crossings between the Texas towns of Lubbock, Seagraves and Levelland. "When complete," the company said, "the improvements will greatly improve the efficiency and reliability of rail service to many vital rural industries in West Texas."

- John D. Boyd.