Railroads & Locomotives Railroad Profiles Short Lines Aiken Railway Company profile

Aiken Railway Company profile

By | January 18, 2023

Aiken Railway Company is a short line railroad operating in Aiken County, South Carolina as a division to the Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation.

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Aiken Railway Company logoAiken Railway Company summary

The Aiken Railway Company (AIKR) is a short line railroad that operates in Aiken County, South Carolina. It’s leased out by Norfolk Southern as a division to the Western Carolina Railway Service Corporation, which also operates the Greenville and Western Railway Company. At 18.9 miles of standard-gauge track, the railroad starts in Warrenville east to Aiken before splitting into two sections. Hence the configuration like a sideways letter “Y.”


The Aiken Railway’s former Southern Railway line from Warrenville through Aiken to Oakwood has ties to the state’s first railroad. The South Carolina Canal & Railroad Company was chartered in 1827 and operated the first entirely U.S.-built steam locomotive, the 0-4-0 Best Friend of Charleston. The railroad slowly expanded west until it reached Aiken in 1833. All the Aiken Railway’s predecessors experienced various corporate changes until eventually becoming part of the Southern, later Norfolk Southern. Since 2012, the railroad has been leased to the Western Carolina Railway Service as its operator.


The Aiken Railway runs from Warrenville, 6-miles east to Aiken, then splits into two separate lines. One line continues 7-miles east to a point near Oakwood, the other heads 6.4-miles north to North Aiken. The railroad hauls about 1,100 carloads annually and operates from its terminal on the east side of downtown Aiken. The North Aiken line exports kaolin from both the Grace plant and a second facility operated by Active Minerals International LLC. To the east of Aiken is Carolina Eastern, a feed and seed operation that also serves as the headquarters plant to the AGY Holding Company who manufactures glass fiber products. Railcar storage is also offered along the line.

Motive power on the Aiken Railway comes from the Western Carolina’s roster of EMD diesel locomotives. The holding company owns two GP9s and four GP30s. Two of the GP30s are kept at the Aiken terminal for regular service.

Interchange is made possible at Warrenville with Norfolk Southern.

Read more about the Aiken Railway Company in Trains’ April 2019 issue.

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