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Short Line Feasibility Studies

Short Line projects involving reactivation, expansion, rehabilitation or development beyond current operations face a complex system of regulatory and economic hurdles in today’s rail industry. The experience RLBA offers assessing the feasibility and viability of proposed Short Line projects leverage on its expert understanding of the operational, economic, financial and environmental factors that influence Short Line performance. RLBA provides industry insight critical to successful Short Line projects through an individualized approach tailored to the circumstances of each unique project.

Select Project Descriptions:


RLBA was engaged to assist in the single package sale of mineral resources and an out-of-service rail corridor in need of rehabilitation. RLBA concluded that the most likely path to restoring service along the line would be to sell the combined resource and corridor in a single transaction to a mining entity, which could then restore and operate the rail corridor as the buyer saw fit. RLBA undertook an in-depth investigation into potential buyers across the specific mineral industry, to determine not only interest in the mineral resource but also the rail and community relations experience of potential buyers. Additionally, RLBA produced a transportation economics report demonstrating that investing the additional initial capital to rehabilitate the entire rail corridor would result in significantly lower transportation costs over the life of the mining operation than other alternatives. RLBA reached out to carefully chosen industry leaders to both advertise the impending sale and to understand what issues might affect the value of the properties. RLBA drafted an Offer of Sale, which was circulated to a number of companies RLBA had earlier identified as likely interested in the property.


RLBA was engaged to perform numerous tasks relating to the development of a new short line railroad operation. The client owned a large factory at the end of a 10+ mile-long rail line but had not received rail service in many years. Rail access to the facility would bring numerous positive financial impacts, provided the costs of restoring and providing rail service were not too great. After weighing the benefits of returning rail access to the facility, it sought assistance from RLBA in determining the economic viability of acquiring the rail line, as opposed to maintaining the status quo. RLBA:

  1. performed a detailed market analysis of all of the manufacturer’s customers to assess the extent to which reinstating rail access would result in savings realized by the customer and/or manufacturer;
  2. determined the economic feasibility of operating the line;
  3. completed a desktop Net Liquidating Value (NLV) associated with the potential acquisition of the line;
  4. held a railroad operator solicitation and selection process; and
  5. recruited and received bids for an environmental assessment of rail line restoration.

The work RLBA performed was used by the client in its negotiations with the former rail line owner and in determining its next steps.