Patriot Rail, which operates 13 regional and freight short line railroads, will invest $1.2 million to establish a rail district at Castle Commerce Center in Merced, California.
The company will lease approximately 6,500 feet of track and related property. The lease term is for 20 years, with potential renewals subject to mutual agreement between Merced County and Patriot Rail. Patriot Rail will maintain the track while increasing rail capacity and fluidity of shippers in the Castle rail district.
"Patriot Rail is pleased to advance and help drive Merced County's vision of economic growth," said John E. Fenton, Patriot Rail CEO. "We are committed to providing service and safety excellence as a premier rail solutions provider, and to partnering with Merced County customers to ensure exciting new competitive options for shipment by rail to build business and grow jobs."
According to the company, the rail district, located near the southeastern corner of Castle, will enhance the ability of agricultural producers, manufacturers and other enterprises from throughout the San Joaquin Valley to ship and receive products via the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe railroad mainline, which runs adjacent to the site. A rail spur from the BNSF lines currently connects to Castle, and Patriot Rail will soon develop additional infrastructure to facilitate enhanced rail freight service from the location.
"We have partnered with Merced County since 2017 to increase investment and trade development in Central California, and this public-private rail partnership is a major step forward," said Gene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container port. "This agreement will help make Central California a focal point to accelerate goods movement across our state and nation."
The agreement with Patriot Rail, a recognized leader in rail, rail services and safety, was executed through Patriot Rail subsidiary Foster Townsend Rail Logistics, LLC.
"This agreement is the culmination of years of market analysis and strategic planning," said Chairman Lloyd Pareira of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. "Coupled with the autonomous vehicle testing happening at Castle, this is an exciting time for Merced County. We're on the front-end of additional job creation and economic development."