Celebration planned for railroad purchase 8/25/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Celebration planned for railroad purchase

By John Howell
The North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority (NCMRRA) will celebrate its purchase of Grenada Railway with a ceremony in Grenada on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m.
Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons said that Senator Roger Wicker has said he will be there along with officials from the state and the eight affected counties and the municipalities within them.

The day will also celebrate the leasing of the railroad’s operation to a subsidiary Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC, which will continue to use the Grenada Railway name.

“It’s a historic day for all of us,” Simmons told Batesville’s mayor and aldermen during their August 18 meeting.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“(Iowa Pacific owner) Ed Ellis is going to have two of his antique cars there as a backdrop for the stage.

NCMRRA was able to purchase the 187-mile rail line that links Southhaven with Canton after its former owners announced plans to abandon the line between Grenada and Canton. The 2014 Mississippi Legislature created the NCMRRA and authorized $30 million in bonds to finance the purchase.

In late July Iowa Pacific’s Ellis and its marketing director visited Batesvile and told Mayor Jerry Autrey the rail company planned to bring the Polar Express Train Ride to Batesville.

“Batesville is going to make a great place for people to go to the North Pole,” Ellis told The Panolian during an interview July 2 interview.

“It secures the use of this rail indefinitely, now,” Simmons told city officials. “They (Iowa Pacific) only have two years to open the south end up on the contract,” Simmons said. The portion of line that had been slated for abandonment has not been used for several years, allowing its deterioration.

“We’ll be seeing traffic from Jackson to Memphis in another 24 months,” Simmons said.