Sulphur Springs – Blacklands Railroad announced the confirmation of an $8.48 Million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grant Award from the Federal Railroad Administration and the garnering of new investors in the Company. These actions will enable the Company to immediately begin the process of upgrading existing operations in Rusk County as well as designing and constructing new railcar storage projects at strategic sites in north Texas.
“Even in the COVID-19 downturn, we have found both grant funds and private capital to continue fostering our growth as well as encouraging economic development in our local communities,” said Wayne Defebaugh, President/CEO at Blacklands Railroad.
Many customers have already benefited from deploying the new capital. One such customer is John Cloutier, Chairman of the Rusk County Rural Rail District, owner of the Henderson-Overton Branch where Blacklands Railroad is the operator. He recently commented that the new capital will enable Rusk County to benefit from induced economic development along the rail line. Both the timber and asphalt industries currently use this connection for transport.
“The new improvements will assist the expansion of some of our largest customers,” said Connor Defebaugh, General Manager at Blacklands Railroad. “They are currently designing their expansions to best utilize the planned improvements.”
Blacklands Railroad prides itself on providing best-in-class, on-demand customer service. In over 20 years in business, the team has grown to include experts across the railroad industry. In addition to 24/7 rail switching operations, they provide rail transportation solutions and offer a wide range of services, including rail and truck transloading, rail car storage, locomotive repair, rail car repair, and fleet tracking.
The Blacklands Railroad began operations in 1999 on an abandoned Southern Pacific rail line that stretched from Mt. Pleasant to Greenville, Texas. In 2010, the Company expanded to operate another shortline railroad, the Henderson-Overton Branch (HOB), that stretched from Overton to Henderson, Texas, which interchanges with the UP mainline at Overton. In 2011, Blacklands Railroad was awarded the Short Line Railroad of the Year by Railway Age. The Company further diversified in 2014 by creating a subsidiary, Black Gold Terminals, specializing in transloading, contract switching, and industrial rail parks. In 2019, it opened a locomotive shop in Longview, Texas, along with Blacklands Locomotive Services to provide repair and maintenance services to locomotive owners at a great value.