Repairing the Carolina Southern Railroad

Untitled-1By Paul Gable

Repairs on railroad crossings and bridges along the Carolina Southern Railroad route in North Carolina sre moving along while funding for repairs in the South Carolina portion of the line is still being sought.

Meanwhile, a committee (?) formed to search for ways to help get the railroad back into full operation seems to be more interested in effecting a change of ownership of the Carolina Southern Railroad rather than searching for ways solutions.

Calling itself the ‘Interstate Railroad Committee of North and South Carolina’, this group of public officials representing several communities and three counties across two states, seems bent on forcing the Pippin family, owners of Carolina Southern Railroad, out of ownership of the railroad.

According to reports of the January 30, 2013 meeting of this committee, sending a complaint to the federal Surface Transportation Board was discussed. The committee evidently hopes the STB would force the Pippins’ to sell the railroad.

The other solution discussed by the committee was having the Pippins sell the railroad voluntarily, without federal government interference.

A major roadblock to this informal committee’s plans is the Pippins have no intention of selling the railroad. They are looking to get it back into full service within the three counties in two states that it serves.

The difficulty the Pippins face is funding, not a surprise in the economic environment the country has suffered through in the last four years. However, a matching grant from the state of North Carolina is helping the crossing and bridge repairs in that state.

Rather than brainstorming creative funding possibilities to help with repairs in South Carolina, the committee apparently evolved rather quickly into a ‘get rid of the Pippins mentality.’

What members of the committee may not understand is the process of getting a decision from the STB declaring the line abandoned and seizing the railroad right of way from the current owners. This is a long process and the current philosophy on the STB is for serious mediation rather than long and costly legal processes.

Additionally, this so-called committee can’t make a complaint to the STB. It has no legal authority or standing to do so.

At present, all we have is a bunch of public officials apparently attempting to interfere with the operation and ownership of a private business.

This seems to be the type of issue that the supposed citizens’ activist groups we keep hearing about would get involved in. But no, it’s apparently easier to sit in front of a computer and chat about activism than it is to really get out in the public forum and attempt to do something about what these groups supposedly dislike.



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