Genessee & Wyoming, a national holding company of short-line railroads, is taking over RailAmerica and the New England Central, following approval of the transaction Wednesday by the federal Surface Transportation Board. The STB's Christmas gift for G&W will take effect December 28.
The New England Central Railroad, which is locally managed in Saint Albans and hosts Amtrak's Vermonter will continue to be locally managed under G&W ownership (indeed there will be even more local control than before, including ratemaking, which should be positive for Vermont shippers). A new General Manager will be hired (currently seasoned retired railroader Bob Murphy is interium General Manager).
The Saint Albans dispatching center will remain open. G&W's existing railroad dispatching is decentralized so the transaction could mean more work in Saint Albans (or less if the decentralized model is eventually applied to former RailAmerica railroads accross the country that are now dispatched from Saint Albans). NECR's shop in Saint Albans will remain and may even get a bit more work. More train crews are being hired.
For railfans the transaction means new corporate colors of orange with snazzy yellow and black trim. New (to NECR) locomotives might be in the works.
For employees it means a new attention to safety. G&W's current lines have the lowest employee injury rate of any major railroad and have three times less injuries than RailAmerica properities. G&W is anxious to spread this success to their new purchases.
RailAmerica had cultivated an excellent relationship with Vermont's leaders, government and community's. We hope that will continue.
The Vermont Rail Action Network has been making an effort to reach out to Genessee & Wyoming management (and have found them receptive and professional, as decent and honest people and good railroaders). We value our relationship with the railroads which we cultivate as part of our advocacy work. We find a lot of good happens when we can just pick up the phone and address a concern.
Photo (right) by Kevin Burkholder: This morning's Train 324, south on the New England Central, rolling past rail customer, Bethel Mills. Up front are boxcars of wood pulp for Northern New England paper making, then tank cars of propane to heat our homes (and make warm soup on the stove!).