A long awaited deal to get the Carolina Southern Railroad operational and productive moved forward this week as
Kentucky-based R. J. Corman Railroad Company and current owner Ken Pippin agreed to finalize the $13.9 million sale by the first of August.
The 80-mile line extends from Mullins, SC to Whiteville, NC and then to Conway, SC, where it connects to a line owned by Horry County, SC, reaching Myrtle Beach. The Carolina Southern has been out of service since 2011.
R. J. Corman will invest millions of dollars in an extensive overhaul of the line, which will begin immediately after the acquisition is finalized and take at least four months to complete. The restored railroad is expected to be an economic boon for the area by reducing industrial transportation costs, decreasing congestion from commercial truck traffic and creating up to 30 high-paying jobs once it is fully operational.
"Our first step will be to more fully assess the rehabilitation that's needed. Our railroad construction team will then efficiently bring it up to our high standards," said R. J. Corman Railroad Group President & CEO Craig King. "We also will meet with area business and industry leaders and economic development representatives to identify ways our railroad can expand their markets and save costs."
An agreement for the sale, signed last year between Pippin and a two-state rail committee representing Horry County, SC and Columbus County, NC, allowed the counties to assign their collective rights and interests to a third party. The counties chose R. J. Corman Railroad Company to be the new owner/operator of the railway.
Corman's short line railroads are considered best in class in safety and operating efficiency. The American Short Line Railroad Association selected them for the Jake Award with Distinction for safety on five separate occasions, including 2015, and the R. J. Corman Railroad Company/West Virginia Line was selected as the 2007 Short Line of the Year. In addition, the Carolina Southern line fits in well with the company's diverse mix of railroad businesses.
"We appreciate this opportunity and realize its significance," said Bill Henderson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for R. J. Corman Railroad Company. "It's easy to see there is tremendous opportunity for our company here and for the industries and agricultural businesses we will serve. We look forward to enhancing the states' transportation systems."
R. J. Corman has turned 10 light density lines into successful commercial operations that provide service to hundreds of industries. Furthermore, the company has repaired or rebuilt thousands of miles of railroad across the U.S. and expects to accomplish the same on the Carolina Southern line.
Businesses along the closed portions of the line have had to use trucking companies to move their products. Bringing the railroad back to life will mean less highway traffic and gridlock, reducing highway maintenance costs and less revenue will be lost in wasted fuel, cargo delays and lost productivity.
Railroads are four times more fuel efficient than trucks and the most cost effective alternative to highway transportation. In addition, a U.S. Department of Commerce model indicates that every freight rail job sustains another 4.5 jobs elsewhere.
R. J. Corman Railroad Group employs more than 1,600 people in 23 states. In addition to the 10 short line railroads it operates, the company provides industrial switching services, emergency response services, track material distribution, track construction, signal design and construction, railroad worker training, and builds eco-friendly Railpower locomotives.
More details about the company are available here and businesses and community leaders may call 859-881-2466 for information about how the railroad can help them.