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Rail Officials Look To Bolster Logging Fleet With State Funds

Many Train Cars In Northern Wisconsin Aging Beyond Repair

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A rail commission in northern Wisconsin is seeking state money for logging rail cars to improve service in the region.

Northwoods Rail Transit Commission Chair Wendy Gehlhoff said the number of log cars in the north woods is dwindling, with 60 percent of cars owned by Canadian National expected to reach the end of their lifespan by 2017.

Gehlhoff said they’re applying for $4.8 million in state money for 40 log cars that any railroad could use to ship logs from forests to mills.

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“It would really help our businesses in relation to our second leading Wisconsin industry. The pulp and paper — forest products industry — is a huge business in Wisconsin,” said Gehlhoff.

She said it’s cheaper for loggers to ship by rail and leads to less wear and tear on roads.

Flambeau River Papers CEO Butch Johnson said it takes three to four truckloads to ship the same amount of logs carried by a rail car.

A spokesman for Canadian National said the railroad is working with the commission as they seek money for log cars and may provide matching funds.