Letter: Some insights on how rail spurs work

EPCAL Rail Spur
FILE PHOTO | The rail spur that was extended into the Enterprise Park in Calverton.

To the Editor:

While I enjoyed reading Tim Gannon’s story about the $5.5 million Calverton rail spur having “just one customer,” having had the pleasure of spending many years in the rail industry, I would like to point out some realities as they relate to rail construction, customer placement and overall freight service.

“Just one” customer is often enough to make any project successful, Eastern Wholesale Fence being no exception. The benefits of rail spurs at customer sites are numerous, both to the industries and the surrounding communities. Reduced road truck traffic can benefit the public through reduced infrastructure expense and by reducing overall road congestion. Pricing advantages can ensure a company’s ability to remain competitive, keeping valuable jobs in our communities. Eastern Wholesale Fence has established itself as an anchor customer, making subsequent rail service for smaller single-car customers a reality.

Many rail projects have a lengthy development time line due to the engineering, build out and coordination involved. Two years is not an excessive amount of time between first inquiry and first car. The Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL, has been “live” for less than a year and I am encouraged by the inquiries received since its construction.

An untapped opportunity offered at EPCAL is the use of a “team track,” on which any party can receive a carload of product despite their lack of a rail-served building. This model is extremely well suited to products that can be unloaded from rail car and into or onto truck for delivery back to the base of operations or other distribution point. Many commodities can be handled in this manner; including, but not limited to, rebar, steel, building products (lumber, brick, wall board, aggregate, etc.), paper, plastics, rice, flour and other food grade commodities.

While one of the hurdles to the customer placement is the lack of easement rights on property sold by the town and the Navy’s control of additional land, we continue to extoll the benefits of the facility.

It is New York & Atlantic Railway’s intent to continue offering consistent, reliable rail service at this site with the expectation that other customers and community members will benefit.

James Bonner

director of sales and marketing, New York & Atlantic Railway

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