Watco Transportation, which bills itself as the leading private U.S. operator of small railroads, is launching another one in Idaho under a lease-purchase deal to get two branch lines totaling 36 miles.
Watco, of Pittsburg, Kan., said the new short line will operate as Boise Valley Railroad and be headquartered in Boise, subject to plan approval by the Surface Transportation Board.
Its route will cover 84 customers on two branch lines of 11 miles between the towns of Wilder and Caldwell, and 25 miles from Nampa nearly to Boise.
Those lines are now leased from Union Pacific Railroad by another short line firm, Idaho Northern & Pacific Railroad. Watco and Idaho Northern have reached a definitive agreement for a Watco lease-purchase. They plan for Boise Valley to have a mid-October launch.
Watco said this will be its fourth railroad in Idaho. And some of Boise Valley’s customers are currently served by other Watco lines -- Eastern Idaho Railroad, Great Northwest Railroad and Yellowstone Valley Railroad.
“This fits in well with our existing infrastructure in Idaho,” said Ed McKechnie, Watco chief commercial officer.
The commodities shipped on the branches that would form the new railroad’s route include potatoes, lumber, fertilizer and fuels.
Watco has 21 short lines around the nation with more than 3,500 miles of track, plus 21 industrial contract switching locations, 14 railcar repair shops, 4 locomotive shops and 19 mobile mechanical shops. It has a transload and intermodal division with 13 locations and seven warehouses. The company also operates Greens Port Industrial Park on the Houston ship channel.
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