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Without southbound freight, train traffic is slow

I can see train tracks from my house, and a lot of times the cars are empty. Where do most of the trains pick up their cargo and where do they take it? It seems like it would be more efficient if the train was more often.

— Anita, Central Point

When it comes to wanting to see more trains through the Rogue Valley, you won't get any arguments from this corner.

On the other hand, railroad companies need freight to justify running trains, and the timber industry still accounts for most of the local rail activity. The biggest reason you don't see many trains passing through these parts is simple — southbound traffic won't resume until the summer of 2016.

The long hauls north to the Willamette Valley presently are night trains, according to John Bullion, local general manager for Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad. CORP runs one train to Eugene and one back most week nights. About 90 percent of the freight hauled by CORP trains is headed for Eugene, where it is transferred to Union Pacific rail cars and sent toward its ultimate destination. The cars coming back are mostly empty, but carry grain, cement and some wood products.

"We disperse the cars, the customers load all day, and we pick them up," Bullion said. Among the regular stops are Timber Products, Boise Cascade and Plycem USA, formerly CertainTeed, which is based in Alpharetta, Ga.

Several more wood products firms connect to CORP trains via Rogue Valley Terminal Railroad Corp., which moves cars around a two-square-mile area in White City. Scott DeVries, who owns the RVTRC line, says most of his exchanges take place between noon and 3 p.m.

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.