Archive for March, 2010

I noticed that this story about north central PA railroads was covered up by The Centre Daily Times, Lock Haven Express, Clearfield Progress, and the Elmira Star Gazette.

They sure made it easy for the reporters, who just had to show up to a county commissioner’s meeting and get a non-controversial story straight from the CEO!

I think it’s great that railroads are doing well–it’s better than hauling sand from the midwest on trucks.

But I do worry it’s symptomatic of how industry self-promotion gets reported as news, while tougher stories are often ignored.

Gas boom adds to local rail traffic – SEDA-COG gives commissioners report about growth of use on short lines

Centre Daily Times (State College, PA) – Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Author: Anne Danahy adanahy@centredaily.com

BELLEFONTE — Rail lines in central Pennsylvania have seen a steady increase in industrial traffic in the past 25 years, and the boom in natural gas business is adding to that.

SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority representatives gave the Centre County Board of Commissioners a report on the industrial short rail lines it owns and the growth in use since the authority was formed in July 1983.

Authority Executive Director Jeff Stover said he would be hard pressed to find one company served in 1984 that is still around. But the use of the rail lines has grown, along with the number of people employed by companies that use the lines. Centre County was a charter member of the authority.
“Keeping the infrastructure there is really important because you really cannot predict what’s going to happen in the future,” Stover said.

In 1986, 1,900 carloads crossed the authority’s rail lines. In 2010 that number grew to 26,500 car loads. Looked at another way, that is 22 rail cars per mile of rail line in 1985 growing to 132 in 2009.

“Last year, a lot of short line railroads saw a significant decline in business. Our business actually went up, and a lot of it was due to the Marcellus Shale gas impact,” he said.

The authority has been leasing pieces of land to use for unloading pipes and the special type of sand used in the fracking process used to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

The authority serves Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland and Union counties.

Stover said most of the rail line use for natural gas is happening in Lycoming and Clinton counties, but that could expand. In Centre County, the challenge would be finding land next to the rail lines that trucks could access.

“You have to have the right mix of location and land,” he said.


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