Iowa Pacific’s interest in local line may derail plans for abandonment 12/27/2013

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Iowa Pacific’s interest in local line may derail plans for abandonment

By John Howell Jr.
The apparent interest expressed by Iowa Pacific Holdings in the old Illinois Central/Canadian Railways line from Memphis to Jackson could derail an attempt by the line’s present owner, Grenada Railway LLC, to abandon the south portion of the track.

Grenada Railway LLC filed on Dec. 17 a Petition for Abandonment Exemption for the track from Grenada to Canton, citing a costly bridge and track repair and the lack of shipping business.

In a report published in The Clarion-Ledger earlier this week, Robert Riley of Tate County said that he had filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to revoke control of the line by Grenada Railway, citing what he said is an illegal embargo of rail traffic on the line’s south end.

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Although in September the STB rejected Riley’s petition, it suggested that Iowa Pacific Holdings might file a feeder line application.

In a feeder line application, another company can take over a rail line if they can show that service on the line is so unsatisfactory that the operator should be forced to sell it to a willing buyer, according to the C-L report.

Grenada Railway LLC bought the line from Canadian National Railway in 2009. Grenada Railway filed an expedited petition to abandon the south end of the line in August 2011 but withdrew the petition weeks later after an outcry from the public and from government and economic development officials across the state.

In July, 2012, the North Mississippi Regional Rail Authority (NMRRA) was created to fight the abandonment plans.

At the organizational meeting, Riley called an offer by Grenada Railway owner Michael Van Wagenen to sell the south portion of the line for $22 million “absolutely ridiculous.” Riley said that Grenada Railway had bought the entire line from Canton to Horn Lake for that same amount.