Some manufacturing companies in Ontario County are hoping New York Senator Chuck Schumer can secure a tax credit to help pay for railway repairs. Schumer made a stop in Canandaigua Thursday to push for the short-line rail relief.
The Finger Lakes Railway says some 60 companies use the rail line in Ontario County to transport raw materials and finished products.
Right now, the route includes a 380 mile detour because a stretch of track is in need of repair. A tax credit, in place to pay for some of those repairs to the 11.5 miles of track, is set to expire January 1st. Schumer wants it extended and has proposed the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act to help.
The tax credit is valued at 50 percent of the cost of the track maintenance and improvements, up to $3,500 per mile.
Finger Lakes Railway is in negotiations with Norfolk Southern Railroad to acquire the 11.5 miles of track to create a new direct connection between Geneva and the CSX line in Lyons, Wayne County. It will eliminate the 380-mile detour that adds another two days to the route and another $150 per railcar.
The company says in order to continue timely shipping and receiving, this stretch of track needs repair and will end up cutting costs and creating jobs.
"It is a source of money that we can utilize to improve our right-of-way so that we can provide a better level, a high level of service for our customers such as Pactiv, who depends greatly on the inbound products," said Mike Smith Finger Lakes Railway President. "And for them, the importance is the heavier the car the better it is for them, the lower their transportation costs."
Shipping cargo by train is still the most inexpensive way to send freight. The tax credit for track repairs is set to expire January 1st unless the Railroad Rehab Act is passed. Schumer says he is pushing it through the Finance Committee before they break for the holidays.