Rail freight up in area

First Posted: 1/2/2015

LIMA — Increased freight could lead to passenger rails.

Lima could see an increase of freight lines coming through the East and West ends of the city, Ken Pendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio said.

This increase could mean a higher-speed rail in the future.

The Fort Wayne Line was formerly a main component of the Pennsylvania Railroad prior to 1968, Pendergast said. “This route is still there, unlike a lot of other routes where they pulled up the tracks and lost the property and homes and businesses and bridges were taken out,” he said.

According to a 2013 report from Norfolk Southern, their traffic in “frac” materials has increased over the past four years — carting materials such as sand and piping, increasing their rail traffic. Calls to the transportation company were not returned at press time.

Thirty years ago, the consolidation of rails occurred to save money when many turned their backs on trains for a form of freight transportation. Now, that it’s beginning to change, Pendergast said, and it’s a good sign of economic times.

The rail is owned by CSX Transportation, but allows Norfolk Southern Railway to run a handful of trains along the rail every day, Pendergast said. The Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern rail also has a 20-year lease to use the line.

Representatives from CSX Transportation did not return requests for comment at press time.

“I think any time there can be a significant improvement in our transportation infrastructure, that’s good for immediate and long-term purposes,” Lima Mayor David Berger said.

Currently, the rail only carts freight trains. While passenger trains through these cities have been a hot topic in the area, they are not quite in the sights of the transportation entities for reasons such as no automatic traffic control system and there are long sections without continuous welded rails, Pendergast said.

“At this point, CSX has not engaged the cities along the (Fort Wayne Line) in the project directly,” Berger said, adding the cities are “independently exploring (the project) currently.”