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Sonoma-Marin commuter agency to keep freight service in house

By | January 17, 2022

SMART board also votes to end tank-car storage

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Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit logo

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit logoPETALUMA, Calif. — The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board has voted to for an in-house freight rail operation, while also planning to end tank-car storage that brings in some $500,000 annually.

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports the board elected to operate the freight service it gained by buying out contract operator Northwestern Pacific [see “Bay Area’s SMART adds freight operations,” Trains News Wire, July 13, 2021] rather than find a new operator, with board chairman David Rabbitt saying, “This board is very cognizant of the responsibility and the financial obligations of taking on freight. .. The opportunities are there and I think the benefit to the community is there.”

SMART elected to take over the freight operation to gain full control over its route after the state shut down the North Coast Railroad Authority, which oversaw the freight operator and owned some track not previously belonging to SMART. That track could require up to $10.5 million in improvements, the Press-Democrat reports.

The end of the car-storage operation, to be accomplished by June, reflects opposition to keeping the cars for refinery use because of environmental and safety concerns, the newspaper says.

The passenger agency will assume freight operations as of Feb. 28.

2 thoughts on “Sonoma-Marin commuter agency to keep freight service in house

  1. Stupid agency, there’s absolutely ZERO environmental and safety concerns with storing EMPTY tank cars(most have been pressure washed before being placed in storage), it’s and easy $500k/year, the problem is it’s the ultra-lunatic ecological citizens of Marin County that are behind it.

    1. I don’t think it has to do so much about being tanks cars but rail car storage in general. The area is the start of Sonoma valley wine country and having those railcars is an eyesore to the surrounding business dependent on tourism and the appeal of the surrounding valley.

      I wouldn’t doubt that their was a lot of local businesses, most of them small businesses, who supported this move by SMART and probably the reason SMART went all in being a freight operation to keep the neighbors happy by having complete control of the situation.

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