Railroad Rehabilitates Out-of-Service Track, Tailors Specifications to Store 3,000 Cars
COVID’s crippling impact on the economy forced many railcar owners to seek storage space at levels rarely seen – to the tune of 390,000 cars stored across North America’s rail-freight network by the end of March 2020. Determined to make the best of an unprecedented situation and support its customers, G&W’s Kyle Railroad (KYLE) devised a plan that leveraged its 550-mile footprint across Kansas and eastern Colorado to satisfy the demand and help keep the rail industry’s network fluid.
KYLE operations and marketing teams assessed the railroad’s storage capacity and identified specific locations along the line where customers, lessors and brokers could park unused railcars. Preparations included rehabilitating nearly a mile of out-of-service track in Belleville, Kansas, to accommodate storage. Commercial and industrial development team members then began soliciting railcar owners and worked with G&W’s Real Estate Department to finalize any sale of track-storage spots to interested owners.
Among those that benefitted from KYLE’s initiative was Southern Company, an Atlanta-based utility firm that required storage for more than 2,000 leased railcars in the Kansas area. KYLE’s access to Class I carriers and proximity to Southern’s routes were integral, as cars could move in and out of storage more efficiently. But the railroad’s longstanding relationship with Southern and history of providing exemplary service were key factors in the company entrusting KYLE with its assets, as well as opening up additional storage solutions for Southern on other G&W-owned short lines. KYLE’s operations team also agreed to group Southern’s fleet according to customer specifications, which facilitates the fleet’s return to various lessors in one train set or block of cars.
Last year, I had to park several trains, and KYLE was the first facility I reached out to. They were able to quickly accommodate my needs. I know I can always count on the people there to give me service that is above and beyond.Debbie Sides, fuel analyst at Southern Company
At the height of the pandemic, KYLE had more than 3,000 stored railcars on its property for Southern and other customers – the result of an ability to be nimble and creative and a welcome revenue boost for the 65-employee railroad in a year when regular freight business was challenged.