Dramatic changes in the rail industry were hastened by congressional passage of the Staggers Rail Act in 1980, which partially deregulated railroads. The big railroads began to shed their branch lines. When this happened, entrepreneurs, abetted by state and local governments who feared the loss of their railroads, stepped in to do what the big railroads were unwilling or unable to do. From 1980 to 1987, 179 new short line railroads were formed on 17,000 miles of track, constituting 37% of the nation's 490 rail carriers. In Tennessee there were 2 short line railroads in 1980; today there are 14, covering 588 miles of track. One of these is the Nashville and Eastern Railroad which, by limiting itself to commercial customers along a 131-mile stretch of track in four east Tennessee counties, appears to be succeeding where many larger companies have failed. The Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority was formed in 1985. In 1986, after extensive negotiations, the rail authority purchased the line for $2.5 million. Funding was provided by the counties and principal cities through which the line passes, matching grants from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and a crucial $500,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Today major track rehabilitation is underway. The line operates 14 locomotives (bought used from the Santa Fe Railroad) and four train crews, and employs 40 people. It serves 80 shippers. One of its biggest new customers is the line's old owner, CSX. The Nashville and Eastern hauls limestone created as a by-product of a zinc mine in Gordonsville and used by CSX as track road ballast. Of potential importance to the short line are the businesses expected to locate in new industrial parks in Lebanon and Cookeville.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Appalachian Regional Commission

    1666 Connecticut Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20235
  • Authors:
    • Hoffman, C
  • Publication Date: 1989

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: p. 22-27
  • Serial:
    • Appalachia
    • Volume: 22
    • Issue Number: 3
    • Publisher: Appalachian Regional Commission
    • ISSN: 0003-6595

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00496714
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 31 1990 12:00AM