NewsRail

Patriot Rail to acquire fellow short-line railroad Pioneer Lines

Patriot Rail says acquisition will enable company to serve freight and logistics needs in new markets

Jacksonville, Florida-based short line operator Patriot Rail has signed an agreement to acquire Denver-based Pioneer Lines from parent company BRX Transportation Holdings. 

Pioneer Lines operates 15 short-line railroads across 12 states, while Patriot Rail operates 16 short-line railroads in over 15 states. Patriot Rail says the acquisition would offer rail users enhanced service options across more locations in the U.S. New markets would be located in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Patriot Rail currently operates in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington, among other locations.

“Pioneer Lines’ safety culture and focus on operational excellence aligns directly with Patriot Rail’s vision and mission,” said Patriot Rail CEO John E. Fenton in a news release. “These synergies position us to continue to exceed customer expectations as a best-in-class rail partner to meet their freight shipment and logistics needs.”

One of the short lines operated by Patriot Rail. (Photo: Patriot Rail)

Investors for Pioneer Lines, which include US InfraVest, Stephens Capital Partners and Brookhaven Capital Partners, support the acquisition. 

Patriot Rail’s investors, such as Igneo Infrastructure Partners, also praised the proposed acquisition, which is pending regulatory approval.

“Building Pioneer into one of North America’s best-performing and most-respected short-line rail companies could not have been possible without the trust of our customers and our talented team of experts,” said Alex Yeros, Pioneer Lines president and CEO. Yeros is also principal of Brookhaven Capital Partners. “Our team is looking forward to the opportunity to grow with Patriot to provide the improved efficiency and reach of a larger platform, with the personalized care, flexible local service, and deep industry expertise that Pioneer is known for.”

RBC Capital Markets advised Patriot Rail on the transaction. Legal advisers included Winston & Strawn for Patriot Rail, and Fried Frank and Arnold & Porter for Pioneer Lines and BRX. Northborne Partners served as a financial adviser to Pioneer Lines and BRX. 

In June, Pioneer Lines announced that it is involved in two federal grants for infrastructure improvements, both of which will be matched by state and local groups and the company. One is nearly $2.6 million for the Elkhart and Western Railroad in Indiana, and the other is $1.8 million for the Gettysburg and Northern Railway in Pennsylvania. 

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One Comment

  1. I sincerely hope that one of the first things Patriot does is do track work on the Pioneer lines. We have 2 within a few miles of my house that haven’t seen work done for years. One was acquired by a new startup railroad and has since ceased operations. The other will soon be vying for the title of Worst Maintained Rail Line in North America. Pioneer only makes money at the expense of their infrastructure.

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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.