Old 08-30-2010, 01:07 AM   #1
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Default The "next" RailAmerica

Patriot Rail, that is. For those that may have not noticed, the former head (and co-founder) of RailAmerica is again becoming a big player in the shortline industry. Mr. Gary Marino now heads Patriot Rail, which has quickly become a major player in the shortline holding companies that dominate today's shortline and regional railroading scene.

It was recently announced that Patriot Rail has acquired Weyerhouser's railroads:


Add in a contract to operate the soon to be reactivated Piedmont & Northern in North Carolina, and this operation is up to 13 railroads. Without sitting down and thinking them all through, that certainly has Patriot Rail quickly in the top 5 of shortline holding companies, and probably now sitting at a distant third behind Genesee & Wyoming and RailAmerica in this category.

Hopefully this time around, Mr. Marino won't follow the path of RailAmerica, which exploded with growth (and debt) to the point the company has nearly come to a standstill as far as growth goes. However, much like the RailAmerica of old in the earlier years, Patriot Rail seems quite eager to grow and is jumping on properties at a time when it is a buyer's market. Industries are more focused than ever on the bottom line, and many that have railroads in the fold are deciding they are not in the railroad business and eager to sell those assets for badly needed cash. I would expect Patriot Rail to continue its methodical march, again reminding us all that our "local" shortline may not be so local in the not to distant future. True independent shortlines are becoming about like GP9s in this industry-- there are still plenty around, but are much harder to find than they used to be.
Mike Derrick

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