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Home / SMART signs short-term deal for freight operator

SMART signs short-term deal for freight operator

By | January 20, 2022

Three-month contract is to give agency time to establish in-house operation

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Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit logo

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit logoPETALUMA, Calif. — Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit has made a short-term deal for a contractor operator for freight service while it prepares to launch an in-house freight operation.

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports the SMART board of directors on Wednesday approved a $395,000, three-month contract for Summit Signal to provide interim operation to customers currently served by Northwestern Pacific. The contract has an option for an extension. A SMART buyout of Northwestern Pacific, giving the commuter agency full control over its route and ownership of some additional trackage, will be completed Feb. 28.

Northwestern Pacific currently serves four customers in the Petaluma area and also provides car storage. The SMART board recently voted to end storage of tank cars along with establishing in-house freight operations [see “Sonoma-Marin commuter agency to keep freight service …,” Trains News Wire, Jan. 17, 2022]. Officials have estimated the freight service could run a $200,000 annual deficit unless SMART can find more customers.

Summit Signal, based in Willits, Calif., is primarily a contractor for signal and grade crossing services. Its website indicates it also offers bridge and track services.

2 thoughts on “SMART signs short-term deal for freight operator

  1. So, the politically based decision not to store tank cars will cost SMART and local taxpayers $200k a year. Whereas, if they did continue to collect the c .$500K annual storage revenue, they would make a profit, and even if they continue to follow through and learn “on the job” how to operate the service themselves, they would still have a chance of making a profit.

  2. Run an eco-adventure tourism train all the way to Eureka. Set up lodges along the way where travelers can stay and take excursions to see nature up close and personal. Kind of like an eco-cruise. Or they can buy econo-sleeper space and simply ride it out on their own while enjoying ecology and tourism.

    Feature Cali wines, foods & cheeses and of course raisins. Turn the route into a destination, more than just a “dinner train”. Does the rail pass through any reservations? Boom, set up casino space in some of the lodges.

    Sell the experience of California and the train is part of it, not just a means.

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