In its April 2014 issue, Railway Age magazine named the Coos Bay Rail Link its Short Line Railroad of the Year. The magazine “has followed the rapid rise of Coos Bay Rail Link with interest and continuous coverage,” the article claims. “Coos Bay Rail Link’s rapid rise to prominence caught the attention of editors and industry officials alike.”
R.L. Banks & Associates, Inc. was engaged multiple times between the initial embargo of the rail line by its former owner in 2007 and restoration of rail service in 2011, and the RLBA staff is proud of the progress the line has made.
“My company has enjoyed assisting the Coos Bay Rail Link from its inception before the Surface Transportation Board to securing financing, rebuilding the rail line and soliciting a contract rail operator that ultimately began operating trains over the line in 2011,” said RLBA President Charles H. Banks. “The tenacity for success that the railroad, the communities through which it operates, Union Pacific and on-line shippers have displayed is the reason this unique railroad operates today.
A tunnel collapse resulted in an embargo of freight service on the line in 2007, forcing all rail shippers west of the collapse to haul their freight to Eugene or Portland by truck before it was transloaded into railcars. The additional costs associated with the double haul and transloading activities and the belief that the previous operator, CORP, had not acted in good faith to fix the tunnel problem caused the Port of Coos Bay to investigate the potential replacement of CORP by another short line railroad.
RLBA prepared six Verified Statements in support of a Feeder Line Application filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB), pursuant to the Feeder Railroad Development Program. The Verified Statements addressed RLBA’s estimate of the: 1) Going Concern Value (GCV); 2) Net Liquidated Value (NLV) – Track Assets and 3) short line service startup and mobilizing the rail operator. A Self-Contained real estate appraisal report also was produced in this engagement under the direction of RLBA. The Port engaged RLBA to assist it in assessing the economics of the rail operation and to assist it in retaining a short line operator.
Specifically, RLBA’s President and other RLBA staff interviewed representatives of all major shippers on the line to ascertain: 1) historical rail traffic volume and shipper requirements information so as to develop future railroad freight traffic projections; 2) determine how much more it was costing shippers to ship by a combination of a truck haul to a rail transload than an all rail haul and 3) how volume might change in the future. RLBA’s Director of Transportation Engineering physically inspected the right of way and estimated future rehabilitation and maintenance costs. Also, RLBA is developing a Business Plan which will be used to both attract necessary financing and solicit short line operator interest.
RLBA also assisted in the preparation of a 2009 Federal Stimulus Program funding requests to return the Coos Bay Rail Link back to sustainable service. These requests funded repairs to four tunnels which were the initial cause of the rail line being removed from service. RLBA’s Director of Transportation Engineering physically inspected the line to determine other necessary repairs to return the line to a serviceable condition and assisted in the cost estimating those repairs. RLBA assisted in the development of additional ConnectOregon III funding requests.