Peters Tours Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad, Discusses Support for Short Line Rail

ESCANABA, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today toured the Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad, where he saw firsthand the work being done in their facility to refurbish old railroad cars for a new purpose on the fleet. Peters, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, also discussed his support for the Short Line Tax Credit, which encourages greater investment in short line rail infrastructure. Michigan is home to 21 short line railroads that operate 2,861 miles of track—nearly 80 percent of the total railroad track miles in the state.

“Short line railroads strengthen America’s economic competitiveness by connecting regional railways with our larger, cross-continental networks,” said Senator Peters. “These vital links connect more than just track – they connect diverse businesses and unique products to consumers across the country. I am proud to support tax credits for short line railroads so that companies like Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad can continue to expand their infrastructure and serve diverse industries that drive Michigan’s economy.”

“Short line railroads play a key role in supporting the Upper Peninsula’s economy by connecting companies across the state and the entire country,” said Mike Logan, Vice President Mechanical, Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad. “Particularly in rural communities, short line railroads provide an effective transportation method that allows more Upper Peninsula businesses to sell more products to far-reaching markets. We are thankful for Senator Peters’ advocacy, which encourages greater investment in short line railroads so that we can continue to move goods and create well-paying jobs for Michiganders.” 

Last year, Peters cosponsored the bipartisan Short Line Railroad and Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2015 to extend the Short Line Tax Credit, which supports private investment in rail infrastructure by providing a 50-cent tax credit for every dollar spent on track improvements, up to $3,500 per mile of track. The tax credit was extended for two years as part of the omnibus spending bill Congress passed in December, which will continue to help small freight railroads make investments to maintain, upgrade and further develop their railroad infrastructure. The Short Line Tax Credit provides Michigan short lines nearly $10 million each year for improvements.

The Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad (E&LS) is a privately owned short line railroad company operating in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northeastern Wisconsin. Under current ownership, the E&LS has expanded from the original core line of 65 miles that was purchased in 1978, to over 235 miles of operating railroad in 2016. Headquartered in Wells, Michigan, E&LS provides a minimum of 5 day per week service over the mainline from Ontonagon to Green Bay to a multitude of paper, forest products, and other manufacturing companies.