By IAN MUNRO
Daily News-Record 9/17/20
Mount Crawford- based logistics, transportation and development firm InterChange Group became part owner of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad last week, according to Lance Arey, the general manager of the railway firm.
Arey said InterChange Group’s addition to the railroad partnership will “definitely bring [opportunity] to the Valley and more movement of cars through here.”
“It’s good to have them on board,” he said Wednesday.
The 20.2 mile-long, privately owned Shenandoah Valley Railroad runs from Pleasant Valley to Staunton, connecting Class 1 railroads of Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation.
InterChange is a minority partner in the operation, which is also run by Shenandoah Rail Co. and Valley Rail Service, according to Arey and a press release from InterChange Group.
Last year, InterChange opened a new cold- storage facility in the county with plans for a railway spur, which is now under construction, said Chris Thompson, the vice president of business development for InterChange.
“We’re looking at [being part of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad ownership] not only for our own property or properties, but also to help them develop that [resource] more regionally and help other businesses,” Thompson said. “It’s not exclusive to just what InterChange is up to.”
The presence of an asset like the Shenandoah Valley Railroad is another draw for businesses looking at establishing operations in the area, according to Jay Langston, executive director of regional economic development group the Shenandoah Valley Partnership.
“Their investment in the railroad not only helps them, but it also helps secure a tremendous asset from a transportation” perspective, Langston said. “We still receive requests where rail is very important.”
Freight moving by rail also helps keep freight off of Interstate 81, while still ensuring that jobs and production remain in the Valley.
“It’s not only that rail is still critical for some industries because it’s just a great way of transferring goods long distance, plus it also helps eliminate some of the traffic that we have on our interstate,” Langston said.
Short lines, such as the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, offer flexibility in scheduling and running loads to companies that other lines do not, he said.
“We are excited to become a part of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad family both as owners and as a user with our new rail spur and rail- served cold storage facility in Mt. Crawford,” Devon Anders, president of InterChange Group, said in a Tuesday press release. “We look forward to partnering with the [ Shenandoah Valley Railroad] team to promote the benefits of rail and further develop this regional asset.”