Omaha Lincoln and Beatrice Railway Company summary
The Omaha Lincoln and Beatrice Railway Company (OLB) is a short line railroad that operates in Lincoln, Nebraska. Known as the “Big Red Line,” it’s owned by NEBCO Incorporated. Roughly 8 miles of standard-gauge track is used as part of a Class III switching operation out of downtown Lincoln.
The Omaha, Lincoln and Beatrice Railway was organized on March 4, 1903, to create a link between the booming cities of Lincoln, Omaha to the northeast, and Beatrice to the south. Within two years, the railroad was established into an interurban line from Lincoln to Bethany, but never reached Omaha and Beatrice as originally proposed. By 1929, the struggling carrier was a year removed from discontinuing passenger service and under the ownership of Abel Construction Company. With the intention of hauling freight between University Place and 14th and “X” Street in downtown Lincoln, the railroad evolved along with Abel Construction, today known as NEBCO.
Dubbed the world’s smallest railroad with only 3.62 miles of “mainline” track, the Omaha, Lincoln and Beatrice Railway specializes in transloading, railcar repair, short-term storage, and track repair. It has also evolved into a Class III switching railroad that interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway to serve the industries of Archer Daniels Midland Company, West Plains LLC, Lincoln Lumber Company, Nebraska Ash, and Ready Mixed Concrete Company.
EMD GP38-3 diesel locomotives make up the majority of the OLB fleet. The painted red on both the motive power and rolling stock serves as a tribute to the heritage of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad’s freight livery. In addition to the call back of the University of Nebraska’s “Big Red” nickname, the adopted color scheme has given the Omaha, Lincoln and Beatrice the title the “Big Red Line.”
Interchanges with both Union Pacific and BNSF is made possible in downtown Lincoln near the Bob Devaney Sports Center. This is part of the switching operations on the short line.
Read more about the Omaha, Lincoln and Beatrice Railway in Trains’ April 2018 issue.