RJ Corman Railroad Co. purchases part of Carolina Southern Railr - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

RJ Corman Railroad Co. purchases part of Carolina Southern Railroad

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – R. J. Corman Railroad Company is in the process of finalizing the purchase of the Carolina Southern Railroad. The Kentucky company has similar railroad tracks and projects in nearly half of the U.S., repairing and rebuilding thousands of miles of railroads.

The sale was supposed to be finalized by August 1. The company paid $13.9 million for the rail lines, and the Pippin family transferred the deeds. But there are still details that need to be ironed out before everything is official, including making sure the surveys are consistent with what the deeds show.

But in the meantime, the Pippin family has given R. J. Corman construction crews permission to start clearing the tracks that are covered in debris and trees. The railroad has been shut down since 2011 and is in major disrepair. Many of the bridges along the lines are also deemed unsafe. The crews will be out every day, rain or shine, to clear everything over the course of the next three weeks.

“For us to really do the proper work, you have to be able to see and get access to the ties, the aggregate, which goes underneath for the strong foundation for the rail,” explains Bill Henderson, the vice president of sales and marketing for R. J. Corman. “So we need to clear it so we can test the integrity of the rail."

Henderson anticipates the deal will be finalized “sooner rather than later.” And the goal is to have the tracks and bridges repaired so trains can start transporting goods by the end of 2015.

Most of the companies that sit along the Carolina Southern Railroad lines have to use trucks and semis to transport goods. But Henderson says after about 100 miles, trucking costs tend to become too expensive for local companies, which limits the potential for growth. "Rail provides a great alternative that is sometimes far superior to trucking,” says Henderson.

R. J. Corman is already working with some local potential customers like Canfor Lumber and MetGlas. Henderson says Idaho Timber and Atlantic Packaging in North Carolina are also interested in using rail to transport goods.

“We’re going to help them with their transportation costs, but also open up new markets for them that they couldn’t access before,” says Henderson. “And then they become very competitive and many times it can be a catalyst for growth.”

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