All aboard! Tapping into Churchill County rail line
The potential to develop new businesses along the Union Pacific rail line from Hazen to Fallon has the Churchill Economic Development Authority buzzing.
Eric Kreutzberg, the railroad’s regional manager for industrial marketing and sales, spoke Wednesday at the monthly CEDA Business Council breakfast about Union Pacific’s role in Churchill County.
Currently, Kreutzberg said UP’s Fallon Industrial Lead serves three locations, beginning with New Millennium west of Fallon and heading east to Premier Magnesia. He told about 75 business leaders at the breakfast that rail opportunities continue to increase for hauling grain and seed and for serving mining interests.
“We have a couple of places where new investments are required to bring on new businesses,” he said.
Furthermore, Kreutzberg said the Tesla plant between Reno and Fernley may have some effect on rail growth and opportunity for the Fallon area.
In addition to looking at rail growth for Churchill County, Kreutzberg said UP is also improving five crossinsg on the Fallon Industrial Lead and working with local agencies such as CEDA for new development.
“We support new business development out here,” he said.
For firms to build west of Fallon, he said they could build a spur or a rail park.
Rachel Dahl, executive director of CEDA, said the agency is looking at a piece of land owned by the Truckee Carson Irrigation District that borders the rail line near Hazen. In order to apply and possibly obtain a public works grant that is due Dec. 15, she said the land must be owned by a government agency. She also said a railroad design company is working on a conceptual design for the area.
Dahl recently told several local government boards that at least seven businesses are interested in land near the rail line.
In addition to discussing UP’s role in Churchill County, Kreutzberg also gave an overview of the railroad’s operation in Nevada. According to Kreutzberg, UP has more track in Northern Nevada, but the total for the state is 1,193 miles. UP currently employees 592 workers.
“In 2014, we had 115,000 carloads originate and terminate in Nevada,” he said, adding among the items UP carries are feed, lumber and steel. He also said Las Vegas is an auto distribution hub for the railroad.
Kreutzberg said the rail lines in Churchill County are mixed in with U.S. Highways 50 and 95. The main line curves northeast out of Hazen toward Interstate 80, and another track of 43 miles heads south to Wabuska, about 15 miles north of Yerington, where it ties in with a government line. Wabuska once served as the principal area’s supply center on a line that went from Hazen to Mina.
In giving a brief business overview of Union Pacific, which began in the early 1860s, Kreutzberg said the company’s revenue was $22.6 billion, and UP covers 32,000 miles of track in 23 states. Of the goods transported by UP, he said the breakdown is 20 percent industrial, 18 percent coal, 17 percent agricultural products, 16 percent chemicals and 9 percent automobiles.
Because of shareholder returns, he said approximately $4.2 billion will be returned to the railroad with more than half going to infrastructure and new locomotive and equipment purchases.
“We serve all the major West Coast ports and many of the Gulf (of Mexico) ports,” he said.
Kreutzberg said UP connects with Canada and at six border crossings with Mexico.
“We are truly an international company,” he said.