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More railroad activity is not expected

The past few times I've been in downtown Medford, I've noticed that the railroad company seems to be getting the tracks and crossings into shape. While sitting in my office the other day in Ashland, the area shook with the noise of a freight-train engine hitting its warning horn. Do these activities indicate that the rail service into California is finally ready to start up again? If so, is there a timetable for its return?

— Tom O., Ashland

False alarm, Tom. There's nothing to get excited about yet.

We checked in with CORP, Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad, and the freight train that rumbled through Ashland was just to swap out another one from California.

"There's nothing new to update, said John Bullion, CORP assistant general manager.

He said the state has received a lot of grants to upgrade tunnels and tracks to the north and south of Medford.

"We're in the process of trying to get it out to design and bid," Bullion said, adding that he wouldn't even want to hazard a guess as to when trains will once again travel over the tracks.

Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad stopped shipments south of Ashland in 2008 after shippers balked at rate increases.

A $7.09 million federal grant to repair and reopen the line was approved by the U.S. government in 2012.

Total cost of the rail upgrade project is $9.49 million. Most of the remaining $2.4 million will come from the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad, which owns the rail line.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.