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Anacostia Rail Holdings Company profile

By | January 18, 2023

Anacostia Rail Holdings Company is a privately held firm operating multiple short line railroads in major metropolitan centers across the United States.

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Anacostia Rail Holdings logoAnacostia Rail Holdings Company summary

Anacostia Rail Holdings Company is a privately held firm that operates multiple short lines throughout the United States. Headquartered out of Chicago, the company owns six freight railroads with more than 760 miles of standard-gauge track.


The Anacostia Rail Holdings Company traces its roots back to 1985 when the Anacostia & Pacific was founded as a transportation development and consulting firm. The company participated in several high-profile launches including MidSouth Rail Cooperation and Montana Rail Link. By the late 1980s, the Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad was struggling at the hands of then-owner Venango River Corporation which was amid bankruptcy. Seeing an opportunity to grow beyond consulting work, the Anacostia & Pacific became the successor bidder of the railroad and assumed control in December 1990.

Purchasing the South Shore gave the Anacostia & Pacific the momentum to venture into the shortline railroading business. Five additional lines were purchased beginning with the Louisville & Indiana Railroad in 1994. Expansion led to reorganization in 1997 when the Anacostia Rail Holdings Company was formed by the shareholders of Anacostia & Pacific to own and develop the railroads, as well as related transportation and logistics firms.


The six short lines under Anacostia Rail Holdings’ ownership reaches out to major metropolitan centers while serving smaller communities in seven U.S. states. Though providing a wide range of traffic, the railroads all conform to the vision of operating with strong, durable franchises and solid relationships with the Class I railroads.

The Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad provides freight traffic for a diverse group of customers in the busy region of Chicago and northwest Indiana. The Louisville & Indiana Railroad’s plastic traffic dominates the industries between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky. The New York & Atlantic Railway hauls freight in and out of Long Island along the most active commuter rail system in the country. The Pacific Harbor Line serves the demanding ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. Northern Lines Railway interchanges with BNSF Railway at St. Cloud, Minnesota, northwest of the Twin Cities. Gulf Coast Switching operates the Robinson Yard in Dayton, Texas, near Houston, as a contractor for the Union Pacific Railroad.

Transloading has become the latest diversification for Anacostia when it partnered with Brown Brothers Harriman Capital Partners to form Precision Terminal Logistics in 2019. The jointly owned entity operates, builds and acquires transloading terminals across the country based in Pittsburgh. Other services include track maintenance and dispatching.

While the overall roster of diesel locomotives in Anacostia’s six railroads varies, the company aims to reduce emission and fuel usage as part of standardization throughout the system. Since 2014, Anacostia has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transportation program. Starting with the Pacific Harbor Line as being the first railroad in North America to upgrade its entire fleet to Tier 3 standards. All six short lines have become certified partners since 2021.

Read more about the Anacostia Rail Holdings Company in Trains’ June 2017 issue.

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