Towns to see more rail trafficTrains will start running back and forth to Liberty Grain near Kimball.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
A stretch of railroad between Mitchell and Chamberlain will see regular train service for the first time in more than a decade beginning next week.
Dakota Southern, which operates the 61-mile stretch of state-owned railroad between Mitchell and Chamberlain, recently announced it will begin running 60- and 110-car trains of grain and fertilizer to and from the new Liberty Grain facility near Kimball beginning Sept. 18.
Bruce Lindholm, railroad program manager for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, said the line hasn’t seen regular service since the mid-1990s. The line has undergone a $29 million rehabilitation effort, funded in part by a $16 million federal grant.
The railroad runs directly through several towns between Mitchell and Chamberlain, including Plankinton and White Lake. Lindholm estimated the line will average about two trains per week heading to Liberty Grain.
“It will be different,” Lindholm said. “This will definitely be a change in those communities.”
The facility is east of Kimball, which means that city won’t see train traffic. Fertilizer trains will return to Mitchell from Liberty Grain, and grain trains will come back to Mitchell before turning north and eventually toward the West Coast.
While the newly rebuilt tracks are capable of handling trains going as fast as 25 mph, Lindholm said Dakota Southern’s trains will likely only travel 10 to 15 mph. Still, Lindholm said people in the area should always look both ways before crossing, and not allow children to play on or near the tracks.
“It takes a long time for a train to stop,” he said. “People need to understand that.”
The trains will be headed for the $35.5 million Liberty Grain facility, which is already accepting corn and soybeans after recently opening for business following about 13 months under construction. The facility is capable of taking in grain from area farmers and loading it on 110-car shuttle trains, mostly bound for West Coast ports.