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Carolina Piedmont Railroad

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Title: Carolina Piedmont Railroad  
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Subject: Greenville, South Carolina, List of common carrier freight railroads in the United States, RailAmerica, List of South Carolina railroads, Charleston and Western Carolina Railway
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Carolina Piedmont Railroad

Carolina Piedmont Railroad
Reporting mark CPDR
Locale Upstate South Carolina
Dates of operation 1990–
Predecessor CSX Transportation
Track gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Length 34 miles (55 km)
Headquarters Laurens, South Carolina
Carolina Piedmont Railroad

The Carolina Piedmont Railroad (reporting mark CPDR) is a class III railroad and subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. operating in the Upstate region of South Carolina. From an interchange with CSX Transportation at Laurens the railroad runs 34 miles (55 km) to the northwest, terminating at East Greenville.[1]

Primary commodities include plastic resins, gas turbines, wind turbines, food products, forest products, and chemicals with the railroad accumulating about 5,500 annual carloads in 2008.[2][3] The railroad serves a General Electric facility that provides a source of high value cargo for the line, shipping several gas and wind turbines via rail on a weekly basis.[4]


What is now the Carolina Piedmont railroad began as the Greenville and Laurens Railroad, which was chartered in 1878 and arrived in Greenville in 1882.[5] The railroad was later merged with three others in the region to form the Port Royal and Western Carolina Railway in October 1886. In 1896, the railroad was merged once again, this time with the Port Royal and Augusta Railroad to create the Charleston and Western Carolina Railway, and was promptly acquired by the Atlantic Coast Line in 1897.[1]

Additional mergers came in 1959, as the Charleston & Western Carolina was formally merged into the Atlantic Coast Line. The ACL was merged into the Seaboard Coast Line in 1967, and the SCL was merged into the Seaboard System in 1983. The final merger came in 1986, when the Seaboard System was merged into CSX Transportation.[6]

Shortline service begins

Annual carloads amounted to about 8,000 in 1988, which prompted CSX to sell the portion from Laurens to a point short of downtown Greenville to the Carolina Piedmont Railroad on November 5, 1990. A key factor in the sale was the fact that the line could not support intermodal or automotive shipments on account of low clearances. The railroad was operated as a division of the South Carolina Central Railroad, a subsidiary of RailTex.[7] For the year 1995, about 6,000 annual carloads originated or terminated on the line.[1]

Expansion and acquisition

In April 1997, the railroad acquired the Greenville and Northern Railway, running from Greenville to Travelers Rest for a distance of 11.8 miles (19.0 km).[8] The G&N was slated for abandonment, along with 3.2 miles (5.1 km) of track located at the end of the Carolina Piedmont near the Greenville Downtown Airport. However, on May 28, 1999 the railroad reached an agreement with the Greenville County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC) to purchase both sections in their entirety. The Greenville & Northern would be converted into a walking trail after the GCEDC failed to find a new operator, while the southern portion was operated by the Carolina Piedmont under contract by the GCEDC and is primarily used for railcar storage.[9]

An additional change came in 2000 as the South Carolina Central's parent company, RailTex, was purchased by RailAmerica.[10] Around the same time the railroad teamed with General Electric to upgrade rail infrastructure in order to accommodate heavy turbine loads originating from the Greenville facility. Heavier rail was installed, and significant upgrades to the ballast and roadbed were made.[4]

The railroad continued to operate under RailAmerica, hauling 5,529 annual carloads in 2008.[2] until December, 2012 when RailAmerica was absorbed into the competitor Genesee & Wyoming company.


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