Kentucky-based company buys Horry County rail line - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Kentucky-based company buys Horry County rail line

Source: JR Corman Railroad Group Source: JR Corman Railroad Group
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the Carolina Southern Railroad, a set of tracks that shut down back in 2011.

R. J. Corman Railroad is working to finalize the $13.9 million deal by the end of July. In the meantime, the company is traveling the tracks to inspect all the damage on the Carolina Southern Railroad. It will figure out the investment, of time and money, needed to get it up to a safe standard.


"Our founder had a unique capability to see things for what they can be," explained Bill Henderson, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for R. J. Corman Railroad.


It is that vision of finding a diamond in the rough that led R. J Corman Railroad to the Grand Strand.


"We believe it can be one of the premier rail lines in the country," added Henderson.
Off the line, there is another appeal to work in Horry County.


"We were so impressed with the leadership here," Henderson said. 


Horry County owns part of the rail from the beach to Conway. At that point it connects to 80 miles of line falling into disrepair. That's the section this company plans to buy and polish up.


R. J. Corman also owns a construction company, so crews know how to tackle the track. Already it is meeting with local businesses to set up clients interested in using the rail to transport goods.


"Rail is really experiencing a resurgence. And I think some of it is because the highway infrastructure is stretched," said Henderson, as he explained the benefit or rail is it is more efficient and affordable.

The company released the following press release, outlining its plans for the rail:

SALE OF CAROLINA SOUTHERN ON TRACK FOR FIRST OF AUGUST


New owner R. J. Corman Railroad Co. to rehabilitate the line, hire up to 30 employees


NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A long awaited deal to get the Carolina Southern Railroad operational and productive moved forward this week as
Kentucky-based R. J. Corman Railroad Company and current owner Ken Pippin agreed to finalize the $13.9 million sale by the first of August.
The 80-mile line extends from Mullins, SC to Whiteville, NC and then to Conway, SC, where it connects to a line owned by Horry County, SC, reaching Myrtle Beach. The Carolina Southern has been out of service since 2011.


R. J. Corman will invest millions of dollars in an extensive overhaul of the line, which will begin immediately after the acquisition is finalized and take at least four months to complete. The restored railroad is expected to be an economic boon for the area by reducing industrial transportation costs, decreasing congestion from commercial truck traffic and creating up to 30 high-paying jobs once it is fully operational.


"Our first step will be to more fully assess the rehabilitation that's needed. Our railroad construction team will then efficiently bring it up to our high standards," said R. J. Corman Railroad Group President & CEO Craig King. "We also will meet with area business and industry leaders and economic development representatives to identify ways our railroad can expand their markets and save costs." 


An agreement for the sale, signed last year between Pippin and a two-state rail committee representing Horry County, SC and Columbus County, NC, allowed the counties to assign their collective rights and interests to a third party. The counties chose R. J. Corman Railroad Company to be the new owner/operator of the railway. 


Corman's short line railroads are considered best in class in safety and operating efficiency. The American Short Line Railroad Association selected them for the Jake Award with Distinction for safety on five separate occasions, including 2015, and the R. J. Corman Railroad Company/West Virginia Line was selected as the 2007 Short Line of the Year. In addition, the Carolina Southern line fits in well with the company's diverse mix of railroad businesses. 


"We appreciate this opportunity and realize its significance," said Bill Henderson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for R. J. Corman Railroad Company. "It's easy to see there is tremendous opportunity for our company here and for the industries and agricultural businesses we will serve. We look forward to enhancing the states' transportation systems."


R. J. Corman has turned 10 light density lines into successful commercial operations that provide service to hundreds of industries. Furthermore, the company has repaired or rebuilt thousands of miles of railroad across the U.S. and expects to accomplish the same on the Carolina Southern line.


Businesses along the closed portions of the line have had to use trucking companies to move their products. Bringing the railroad back to life will mean less highway traffic and gridlock, reducing highway maintenance costs and less revenue will be lost in wasted fuel, cargo delays and lost productivity. 


Railroads are four times more fuel efficient than trucks and the most cost effective alternative to highway transportation. In addition, a U.S. Department of Commerce model indicates that every freight rail job sustains another 4.5 jobs elsewhere.


R. J. Corman Railroad Group employs more than 1,600 people in 23 states. In addition to the 10 short line railroads it operates, the company provides industrial switching services, emergency response services, track material distribution, track construction, signal design and construction, railroad worker training, and builds eco-friendly Railpower locomotives. 


More details about the company are available at www.rjcorman.com and businesses and community leaders may call 859-881-2466 for information about how the railroad can help them.

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