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Business

Eastern Iowa to get $60 million rail car shop

Cedar Rapids-based rail line key to location decision

A train car rolls through a switch at a CRANDIC rail yard in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Teams of workers performing
A train car rolls through a switch at a CRANDIC rail yard in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. Teams of workers performing "maintenance of way" tasks are out on the tracks around the clock to clear snow and debris from 160 area switches, or points that direct trains onto a new set of tracks. Such tasks are highly regulated, but Ken Boddicker, a track inspector who has worked for CRANDIC for 30 years, says workers are taking extra precautions during the extreme cold. "We keep an eye on each other while we're working out here. We keep a vehicle nearby so that we can take breaks and warm up." Elaine Duvall, a Busines Process Coordinator at Alliant Energy Transportation says that while some of their main clients are operating cars today, the volume has been slower than normal. Typical operating volume for the railroad is around 700 cars. "We're running much more slowly today at around 450 cars," says Duvall. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

The proximity of a rail line operated by Cedar Rapids-based Iowa Northern Railroad was a key factor in a Dallas company’s decision to purchase land in Eastern Iowa for a $60 million rail car repair facility.

Trinity Rail Maintenance Services, a subsidiary of Trinity Industries, has agreed to purchase 230 acres of land in the Butler County community of Shell Rock.

The rail car maintenance services facility will employ more than 260 people when it is completed and operating by the end of 2020.

Trinity Rail said in a news release the site’s co-location with the Iowa Northern Railroad and optimal access to the Class-1 railroad network were significant factors in the company’s decision.

“This full-service facility will expand our internal network and operational flexibility in a key geographic location,” said Eric Marchetto, Trinity Industries senior vice president and group president of Trinity Rail.

“This investment will help us achieve our near-term goal to internally service approximately 50 percent of our maintenance events for our growing fleet of 123,000 owned and managed rail cars.”

The new facility will provide a range of rail car services, including repairs and maintenance, coatings, cleaning, inspections and testing.

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Trinity Rail canceled plans in February 2016 to build a nearly $31 million, 150,000-square-foot rail car maintenance facility in Sioux City. When the company announced the Sioux City expansion in October 2014, a surge in tanker cars transporting crude oil and ethanol had raised demand for its services.

Demand for tankers in the intervening years dropped sharply as global prices for crude oil declined.

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