News & Reviews News Wire Seminole Gulf Railway gradually being restored after severe hurricane damage

Seminole Gulf Railway gradually being restored after severe hurricane damage

By Trains Staff | August 10, 2023

| Last updated on February 3, 2024

Repairs for Florida short line could reach $15 million

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Remnants of rail line in water
The Seminole Gulf Railway has gradually repaired damage like this, sustained during Hurricane Ian in October 2022. Sol Tucker

Map of railroad in southwest FloridaFORT MYERS, Fla. — The Seminole Gulf Railway, which sustained major damage last October from Hurricane Ian, has gradually reopened its damaged right-of-way and should have operations fully restored by the end of the year, WBBH-TV reports.

Six bridges were destroyed along the railroad’s route south from Arcadia, Fla., where it interchanges with CSX, through Fort Myers [see “Seminole Gulf Railway faces lengthy closure …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 5, 2022]. And “several miles of track were washed away,” Robert Fay, the railroad’s executive vice president, told the TV station.

A bridge over the Peace River has been rebuilt, restoring railroad access. But the bridge over the Caloosahatchee River, which runs through the middle of Fort Myers, was so severely damaged that divers have been needed to help with repairs to the bridge pilings.

In all, repairs will cost about $15 million. A bill from the area’s Congressman, Rep. Byron Donalds, sought to provide emergency relief funding for shortline railroads, but it remains in committee. The railroad has paid for or financed all the work itself to this point.

The only freight railroad in southwest Florida, the Seminole Gulf carried about 2,500 carloads of freight annually prior to the hurricane. It continues to play a significant role in delivering supplies for reconstruction following the hurricane.

2 thoughts on “Seminole Gulf Railway gradually being restored after severe hurricane damage

  1. In addition to carrying freight, Seminole Gulf Railway also operates a popular Murder Mystery Dinner Train from Fort Myers. Under normal operation, the dinner train runs five nights a week, year-round from a station at Colonial Boulevard north to a point just south of Punta Gorda before returning. The dinner train is often headed by a vintage EMD F-unit locomotive, SGLR 502, which previously operated on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road. The train uses a fleet of 1930s-era vintage rail cars named after nearby barrier islands (some of which were previously Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus rail cars). The dinner train includes a five-course dinner and has featured over 80 different murder mystery productions throughout its history.

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

  2. Seminole Gulf Railway is one of two freight railroads operating in Southwest Florida (the other is South Central Florida Express, which operates tracks farther inland near Clewiston). Freight transported by Seminole Gulf Railway includes lumber, propane, stone, steel, scrap metal, and other commodities. Freight is interchanged with CSX usually once or twice a week on each line. On the Fort Myers Division, freight trains between the yard in Fort Myers and Arcadia are known as the Desoto Turn. The Desoto Turn switches customers between North Fort Myers and Arcadia while industries in Fort Myers and south of there are switched locally from the yard.

    Dr. Güntürk Üstün

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