Central New York Railroad on slow track
By TOM KANE <mailto:tomkane@...
RIVER VALLEY — "We haven't made a whole lot of progress in the six
months we've been in operation," said Walter G. Rich. "It takes time to
get a business to switch from one carrier to another."
Rich is president and CEO of the Central New York Railroad (CNYRR),
which has leased the rail line along the Delaware River between Port
Jervis and Binghamton, NY.
"However, we are meeting expectations and will be spending $1.5 million
this fall on rehabilitation of tracks and other infrastructure," Rich said.
The line was to be abandoned by Norfolk Southern Railroad, one of
America's largest railroad companies, which views the 125-mile line as a
Rich, who specializes in taking over endangered railroads, is confident
that the short-line railroad can survive if there is an intense campaign
to find users.
"Recently, the Norboard Company of Deposit, a producer of fiber board,
has returned to using our railroad," Rich said. Rich is also focusing a
great deal of effort on the bluestone industry in the Upper Delaware
One of Rich's first steps in taking over the railway was to get a
reduction of the railroad's property taxes at a faster rate than the
abatement schedule authorized by the state's Railroad Ceiling Law, which
was passed in order to correct the state's over-taxation of the property
in the past.
In the counties of Sullivan, Broome and Delaware, county and local
governments agreed to the tax abatement to aid in rebuilding the rail line.
In Sullivan County, the railroad is used by Narrowsburg Feed Company and
Cochecton Mills. The two companies employ over 70 workers.
"I know they've been working hard to get more businesses," said Dennis
Nearing, co-owner of Cochecton Mills. "If they don't succeed, it will be
a big expense for us to truck things from the Midwest. We'd have to pass
the cost on to the farmers who are hurting as it is."
Rich said, "One of the circumstances that has been a surprising boon to
us is the increase of overhead business." Overhead refers to the
periodic use of a railroad company's line by outside carriers who need
to meet the increasing demands of the freight business.
"Norfolk Southern and CSX are experiencing increased traffic during July
and August and have been throwing business our way," Rich said.
"Short line operators, like Central New York, are more willing and able
to take over lines that the bigger railroads don't want," said Eugene
Blabey, chairman and CEO of the Western New York and Pennsylvania
Railroad. "For this reason, the short-line operators are more successful
at saving railroads."
Blabey has no direct interest in CNYRR but uses its tracks on occasion,