REACTION to the announcement from Trustee William Brandt that Denver-based OmniTrax is his preferred buyer of the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad was mixed, including concern about OmniTrax and how it has operated in other short line railroad markets it has entered.
Local critics point to OmniTrax abandoning 67.5 miles of tracks on its Central Texas & Colorado River Railway in 2019 as a sign of what could happen in the San Luis Valley if OmniTrax ends up with the railroad and can’t make it work. In that situation OmniTrax said operating losses in the millions from freight traffic that never materialized was the reason for filing to abandon tracks.
In other markets OmniTrax has entered, the results have been different, including bringing investment into a new short rail corridor it has purchased. No doubt OmniTrax has been on a buying spree of short line railroads, purchasing the Winchester & Western Railroad, the Cleveland & Cuyahoga Railway, the
Alabama & Tennessee River Railway, just in the past three years.
Brandt said OmniTrax has the financial wherewithal to make the needed investments in the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad and to maximize its potential as a short line rail in Alamosa. He also said other interested parties may have a higher bid but that his preference to the federal bankruptcy court would be OmniTrax.
Another of the suitors has been North Central Railcorp led by Tim Tennant. Alamosa County Manager Roni Wisdom told the county commissioners Wednesday that North Central has been interested in purchasing SLRG. Tennant told Alamosa Citizen earlier this week that North Central continues to have an interest in the railroad and would participate in any upcoming hearing on the sale that goes before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas B. McNamara.
McNamara would set a hearing date once Brandt files the terms of the agreement with OmniTrax in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver. That has not yet happened.