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Patriot Rail acquires Salt Lake City short line operator

Patriot Rail itself was acquired by infrastructure investment firm First Sentier Investors in October 2019

Patriot Rail trains. (Photo: Patriot Rail/Facebook)

Jacksonville, Florida-headquartered Patriot Rail plans to acquire fellow short line operator Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway (SLGW).

The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, will also include SLGW’s entities Caballero and Caballero 2, which are storage and transload service providers. SLGW is based in Salt Lake City.

“The agreement aligns with Patriot’s vision of future growth as a premier service provider in the U.S. short line railway industry and complements the Patriot portfolio,” said Patriot CEO John Fenton. “SLGW provides premier service to its customers and we are honored to carry that legacy forward. [SLGW] CEO Mariana Mavor and her team have done a tremendous job expanding capacity and finding creative solutions for shippers.”

Financial terms weren’t disclosed. SLGW is designated as a Class II rail company.

SLGW connects to Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) and BNSF (NYSE: BRK), and the 26-mile line runs adjacent to two major interstates and is near Salt Lake International Airport. 

The railway, which has been operating for over 125 years, handles more than 6,000 loaded railcars annually. 

The deal comes as SLGW has plans to expand in 2021, according to Patriot Rail. The company had also added truck and transload services over the past several years. 

“As a family operated business, SLGW has grown, especially over the last five years,” Mavor said. “This partnership with Patriot Rail affords us more access to expertise, resources and capital to serve the growing needs of our expanding customer base. We couldn’t be more thrilled about the prospects of a ‘bigger and better’ SLGW under the Patriot umbrella.”

Through the SLGW acquisition, Patriot also hopes to take advantage of Utah’s efforts to support developing state business initiatives, including the Mega Site Program, which consists of an inland port authority and district comprising over 4,000 acres of developable land and known as the Northwest Quadrant. 

“The state of Utah is thriving with growth projects. Patriot is excited to participate in these initiatives and we look forward to the evolving opportunities,” Fenton said.

Patriot itself was acquired by Sydney-based infrastructure investment firm First Sentier Investors in October 2019. 

According to its website, Patriot currently operates 12 regional and freight short line railroads, a scenic rail excursion train, and five rail-related services companies with over 600 total rail miles across the United States.

Patriot also operates an integrated port logistics business handling ambient and refrigerated cargo located in the U.S. Southeast.

“We’re delighted to support Patriot’s expansion and continue to see exciting opportunities for the company’s growth in North America,” said John Ma, North America head of the direct infrastructure team at First Sentier Investors. “The rail sector has been resilient this year, demonstrating the essential role it plays in enabling supply chains and keeping businesses moving.”

Separately, the company announced Monday that it has appointed Roquita C. Williams as its newest assistant vice president in sales. Williams will seek to develop business channels and expand Patriot’s presence among its rail offerings. She has more than 20 years of supply chain experience, including working on marketing strategies and commercial relationships with CN (NYSE: CNI). 

WIlliams also worked at UPS as a solutions manager. She is also a licensed conductor.

“Roquita is an exceptional addition to the Patriot team,” Patriot Chief Commercial Officer Paul Tonsager said. “Her extensive knowledge of the transportation and logistics industry and strong record of executing strategy will greatly influence Patriot’s growth. We are thrilled to have her onboard.”

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.