WNYPA Says Rail Traffic Will Continue To Increase

SALAMANCA – Rail traffic over the lines of the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad has been increasing, according to rail officials. Those increases are projected to continue for the next few years. Members of the Southern Tier Extension Railroad Authority heard plans for upgrades during their recent meeting.

According to Lucas Brewer, WNYP Railroad assistant chief engineer, a plan to rehabilitate the line to upgrade it for the future is in sight and will need some financial help from the state transportation department. That help would be in the form of a $1.9 million grant to aid in the $2.5 million project.

“The railroad would offer up a 20 percent match on the amount of funds,” Brewer said.

In all, WNYP would be responsible for about $495,793 with the remaining $1.9 million coming from state transportation coffers. Those funds would go toward replacement of about 10,000 rail ties along 12 miles of line and replace a total of 11 switches in and around the Olean main hub. Three undisclosed crossing upgrades would also be part of the rehabilitation program.

The work would bring the rail line up to a Class III rail, giving it a speed limit of 40 mph.

Should the rehab work and upgrades exceed the cost of the grant, according to Rail Authority resolution, the railroad would be responsible for the overages. Brewer said that would not be an issue, stating that he is confident that the project will be completed under budget.

The increase, according to Brewer, is due to an increased need of high-temperature wax going to a refinery in Pennsylvania.

If awarded the grant, Brewer said the project will most likely start in 2015 with a completion date in 2016. The increase in traffic is expected to continue with the number of cars and trains going over the rails going up over the next couple years.