Thursday, May 25th, 2017

CONTRACT DOES NOT ALLOW STORAGE OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS IN RAIL CARS 

Morris County government sealThe Morris County Board of Freeholders has awarded a five-year railroad operations management contract to the Dover & Rockaway River Railroad to run Morris County’s three rail lines.

Dover & Rockaway (D&R) was one of two bidders for the county contract to operate the Dover & Rockaway, High Bridge Branch, and the Chester Branch freight lines. It will replace the Morristown & Erie Railway, which has been the sole operator of the county’s rail system since the county took ownership of the lines some 30 years ago.

Morris County’s five-year contract with M & E Railway to operate rail services along its county-owned rail lines expires on June 30.

Proposals from both companies were submitted to the county in April, and were reviewed by an evaluation committee, which determined unanimously in favor of Dover & Rockaway.

Factors considered by the committee included: operation, marketing, maintenance, and accident notification plans; an ability to provide rail services; project management and professional qualifications; and past experience and resources, among others.

In its proposal, D&R pledged to have its marketing team visit every rail-adjacent business on the county’s rail lines, even those without a rail siding, to market the potential benefits of freight rail service.

Rail Crossing SignD&R, which runs the Black River Railroad and the Belvidere& Delaware River Railway, has grown business on those lines over the past 15 years, and has marketing relationships with Norfolk Southern, CSX, and Union Pacific, according to its proposal.

As part of its agreement with Morris County, D&R will not store hazardous materials on the county’s rail lines.

Morris County is the owner of three county owned freight railroads totaling more than 17 miles of track. The county leases the day-to-day operations of these lines to a private rail operator through a Request for Proposal process.

The county maintains ownership of these lines for two primary purposes:

  • Economic Development Benefits: Numerous businesses accept raw materials and ship finished products utilizing thee lines.
  • Quality of Life Benefits: As the owner of these rail lines, the county can manage the use and general purpose of these lines to ensure minimal disruption to the affected municipalities.