Mississippi rail line, defunct since 2011, being restored to help revitalize regional economy

On August 7, 2018, International Rail Partners LLC (IRP) announced the acquisition of Grenada Railroad LLC , from Iowa Pacific Holdings LLC (IPH).

IRP, in cooperation with North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority (NCMRRA), intends to restore and re-open the 81-mile southern portion of the line running from Grenada to Canton, Mississippi, which has been closed since 2011. There’s a heritage aspect to this restoration, as well: This is stretch of rail line where the legendary engineer, Casey Jones, had the crash in Yazoo County that killed him in 1900.

Grenada Railroad. Photo courtesy of IRP.

It’s hoped that renovating and reopening the infrastructure will help reconnect and revitalize the regional economy. Back in 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a $7.5 million grant to assist with rehabilitation of the line, which will enable IRP to market rail services to a region that is growing and has been under-served.

When completed, this project will represent a significant portion of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) freight rail improvement plan.

The NCMRRA looks forward to working with IRP to provide safe and dependable rail service to customers on GRYR,” said Larry Hart, President of NCMRRA. “In addition, the anticipated re-opening of the line south of Grenada, as identified by MDOT, is expected to provide new access for shippers and enhance economic development in central Mississippi.

IRP will operate Grenada through a lease-purchase agreement with the NCMRRA. IRP commenced rail operations on the line effective August 2, 2018. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. acted as exclusive financial advisor to IRP in connection with the acquisition.

Grenada operates 212 miles of rail line between Memphis, Tennessee, and Canton, MS. The railroad currently transports approximately 10,000 carloads of freight annually, including commodities such as forest products, plastics, petroleum products, flour and grain.

Grenada interchanges with Canadian National Railway Company at Southaven, Mississippi – and has access to four additional Class I railroads, including Norfolk Southern Corporation, CSX Corporation, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific Corporation, allowing for rail connections throughout North America.

Grenada’s location makes it a highly desirable rail freight service provider for shippers in northern and central Mississippi and a prime railcar storage location. Grenada also anticipates continuing the popular Christmas-themed tourist passenger train at Batesville, Mississippi.

Gary O. Marino, Chairman & CEO of International Rail Partners, said, “We are pleased to announce the acquisition of the Grenada Railroad, the first by our newly-formed rail venture. We look forward to working with NCMRRA, shippers and the local community to grow and enhance Grenada’s short line rail operation.” He added, “Our company has strong financial backing that, combined with our own capital, will provide the funding necessary to compete in the reinvigorated rail acquisition market. We plan to strategically invest where significant value can be added through our organizational expertise.

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, International Rail Partners is focused on acquiring and operating North American railroads, as well as ancillary rail services throughout the continent.

Featured photo courtesy of Railfan Guides.

See IRP website.

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