The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) announced the selection of Piedmont Railway LLC, of Iowa Pacific Holdings, for an operational contract of the railroad between Gastonia and Mt. Holly on Wednesday.
While the agreement has been signed, the NCDOT's board will have to give final approval at their next board meeting, set to take place May 7. Under the agreement, all operations, maintenance and services are under the responsibility of the company. They will be allowed to offer passenger rail service along the railway.
"The rail division has worked very closely with Gaston County to select the best operator for this line," NCDOT Rail Director Paul Worley said. “We look forward to this opportunity to improve freight service along the railroad to support new and existing economic development and job creation opportunities."
The railway, the Piedmont & Northern (P&N) rail corridor, was originally built in 1911 and was abandoned in the 1980s. NCDOT later purchased it and track materials, allowing it to reopen in 2010.
“This is an exciting time in Gaston County, and I am happy to welcome Iowa Pacific Holdings/Piedmont Railway LLC as the operator for the P&N Rail Line," Chairman of the Gaston County Board of Commissioners Tracy Philbeck said. "Vice Chairman Joe Carpenter and I have enjoyed working with the NCDOT Rail Division on this venture, and I believe this partnership could have a positive impact on economic development and travel and tourism opportunities in Gaston County.”