Major improvements are on the horizon for the Stourbridge Railroad.

Major improvements are on the horizon for the Stourbridge Railroad.
The 26-mile line will undergo infrastructure upgrades to increase speed, allowing it to ultimately become a more suitable freight route, said Al Siebold, Stourbridge Line manager.
“You can probably run that speed, but there’s ... ties that have to be replaced,” said Siebold in a phone interview with The Wayne Independent on Wednesday. “It’s safe to operate over. You just got to go slow.”
A $6 million capital budget, spread over a five-year period, will enhance sections of the track and rail bed so that it can handle up to 25-miles-per hour.
The Stourbridge Railroad runs from Honesdale to Lackawaxen Township, Pike County, connecting with railroad owned by Norfolk Southern, a leading U.S. freight company.
With a new trestle in place in Hawley, the former destroyed by two devastating floods in 2005 and 2006, all 26 miles are now completely open, primed for freight and also the popular train excursions to Lackawaxen Township.
The Morristown & Erie Railway Inc., which runs the Stourbridge Railroad and others in New Jersey, is actively seeking freight customers, said Siebold.
“We have some good customers looking at parcels of land” along it, he said. “We do expect there will be some growth in Wayne County, especially industrial growth.
“We have a lot of eagles circling, we’re just waiting for the first one to land.”
That may include a branch location of Ideal Steel Supply Corp, a New York-based steel supplier.
Ideal Steel executive Paul Brancato purchased the Stourbridge Railroad last year from the Lackawaxen Honesdale Shippers Association.
Siebold said site development work has begun for a White Mills-based Ideal Steel location.

Federal money

A $95,000 federal earmark that was intended to restore the vintage passenger cars used for the Stourbridge Line tourist excursions will instead be directed to the rail line infrastructure improvements.
The earmark, set by U.S. Rep. Chris Carney’s office, cannot be applied to the passenger cars in this case, said Siebold, noting that current federal legislation dictates it.
“They’re safe and operate fine,” he said, of the passenger cars.
It boils down to a minor oversight.
Siebold added that he intends to apply for federal stimulus money to supplement the Stourbridge Railroad’s $6 million capital improvement budget.
The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce owns and operates the Stourbridge Line train excursion, now in its 30th year.