The Grenada Railway is now under new management. The railway’s old holder, Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC sold the line to International Railroad Partners out of Boca Raton, Fla.
Sue Stidham, a member of the railway authority, said the sale happened two weeks ago for an undisclosed amount.
The 212-long mile railway connects Memphis to Canton and runs along Highway 51 through Duck Hill, Eskridge, Winona and Vaiden. She said right now, the line is fully operable from Memphis to Grenada, and the company is working to restore the south end of the line.
Stidham said International Railroad Partners are also working with the North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority to reopen an 81-mile line from Grenada to Canton through a $7.5 million dollar federal grant, a $4.3 million dollar state loan and $3.5 million in private money.
According to the Clarion Ledger, the loan was signed by Iowa Pacific prior to acquisition, and the railroad has to pitch in $3.5 million. The Ledger reports the loan will also be used to repair a bridge over the Coldwater River in Tate County.
For Montgomery County and Vaiden, the reopening of the line could be a great thing.
“We have two businesses that use the railway to haul merchandise out in the industrial park,” Stidham said. Winona Hardwood and Taylor Logging both use the rail to haul wood. Stidham said Montgomery County is a wood basket – meaning it grows more timber than is harvested and restoring the line could open up an opportunity to transport more material.
It could also mean economic growth. Stidham said restoring the line could mean new jobs for the county.
“The Mississippi Department of Transportation and Mississippi Development Authority did a study and found that the line supports over 11,000 jobs presently and brings in $1.3 billion in gross product and $1 billion in profit,” Stidham said. “It could mean jobs in Winona and potential growth for anything in the wood industry. Before line shut down, we were hauling empty carts back to Nissan. We hope to continue that and build the railroad up and make it more useable for customers.”
Stidham also said International Railroad Partners also paid off any debts that remained in any of the counties that the line runs through.
“That gave a great relief to the rail authority,” she said. Stidham said the rail authority expects International Railroad Partners to get started on restoring the track.
She said the rail authority is hoping to see good things out of the new deal. Although the line has a new owner, it’s still under the same name.
“We’re hoping to see a new flow of capital resources with this new company. It will still operate under Grenada Railway, LLC,” Stidham said.