With high diesel prices, a new program seeks to convert short freight movements from truck to rail. Called the Empire Link, short line railroads can now market their excess rail freight capacity by allowing cargo movement along the Norfolk Southern (NS) main line between Binghamton and Silver Springs, NY. Branch lines between Corning and Geneva as well as Waverly and Ludlowville in New York may also be used.
“The Empire Link provides our New York short line partners with the tools and resources to design and offer rail transportation services that are truck-competitive in lanes that are less than 500 miles,” says David Lawson, NS's vice president industrial products.
The 10 Empire Link short lines are the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad; Central New York Railroad Corp.; Finger Lakes Railway; Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad; the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp.; Ontario Central Railroad; Owego & Harford Railway; Rochester and Southern Railroad; Wellsboro and Corning Railroad; and Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad. Rich Timmons, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, observes, “We expect positive results for shippers, communities, and big and small railroads alike. If the Empire Link performs as we anticipate, it could serve as a model for future Class I and short line business arrangements.”