Workin' on the Railroad

1 decade 11 months 6 days ago Thursday, July 19 2007 Jul 19, 2007 Thursday, July 19, 2007 6:19:26 PM CDT July 19, 2007 in News

The man's name is Kurt Gaylor and he's working on the railroad-- his own railroad. Gaylor is the boss of the Ozark Valley Railroad.

"We don't have a legal department, no human resources-- we're on a small scale," said Gaylor.

A 27 mile small scale between Mexico and Fulton that was the Kansas City Southern Spur Line.

"We think there's some potential there and once we get running up and down the track that will interest some people looking at rail and give us some consideration," said Gaylor.

Due to recent increases in fuel prices, the railroad has become a cheaper alternative to highway driving, but can the railroad compete with the convenience of trucks on the highway? That's exactly what Doug Mertens wants to know.

"The trucking, with the fuel costs sky-rocketing, we've seen rates go up anywhere between 30 and 80 percent," said Mertens.

Mertens is the boss at a limestone quarry between Kingdom City and Auxvasse. When he heard about the new railroad...

"[I was] very positive, but skeptic," said Mertens.

Mertens would like to move his limestone by rail and he's not alone.

"It would be great for Fulton and Callaway County," said Bruce Hackman, Fulton Economic Development Director. "We like any tool that will help with economic and industrial development. We certainly want to see the rail stay here and quite frankly the previous owner was not committed to building the traffic on it and keeping it active. Having a willing partner like Ozark Valley recruiting freight business is a big, big advantage for us."

It's an advantage because the man working on the railroad will know his customers on a first name basis.

"It's very important, very important-- the key factor in getting involved with this is sustainability," said Mertens.

Mertens needs a reliable railroad, whether it's big or small.

"I'd say we're complimenting the big guys. There is a lot of business that's too small for those railroads to deal with and that's one of the niches we look to take," said Gaylor.

The most important niche is staying on time, regardless of which route you take.

"On time delivery is the key, that's the challenge that you have and Ozark Valley Railroad is trying to show businesses they can deliver that," said Hackman. 

The guys working on this railroad are optimistic about what's around the corner.

"We'd like to think, with fuel prices the way they're going, we just think rail is going to get bigger and bigger," said Gaylor.

 If the freight business takes off, there's talk of having weekend excursions. Passengers would board the train at Fulton, have a nice meal, go to Mexico, turn around and head back to Fulton. But that's still a ways down the track...

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