Iowa Interstate Railroad

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Iowa Interstate Railroad
Iais logo.jpg
Reporting mark IAIS
Locale Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska
Dates of operation 1984–
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Iowa Interstate Railroad (reporting mark IAIS) is a Class II railroad operating in the central United States. The railroad is owned by Railroad Development Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Iowa City Depot, once part of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, now on IAIS line.

The railroad was formed on November 2, 1984, using former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad tracks between Chicago, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska. It was in partnership with real estate firm Heartland Rail Corporation that the IAIS was able to operate. Heartland purchased the right-of-way and infrastructure for $31 million (of which, $15 million was a loan from the Iowa Railway Finance Authority), and then leased it to IAIS for operations.

The railroad's mainline is roughly a straight line between these two terminal cities with a branch line connecting Bureau to Peoria, Illinois. In recognition of the railroad's Rock Island Railroad heritage, the IAIS logo uses a shape similar to the original railroad's logo.


Two trains meet near Altoona, Iowa. At left, train 707 is led by a GP 38-2. At right, train 710 is also led by a GP 38-2.

Operations on the railroad are controlled by track warrants rather than signals. When the IAIS took control of the track, the former Rock Island signal system was already damaged beyond repair, so the trains were operated by warrant control. Trains are dispatched from the company's HQ in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where a new dispatching office was completed in 2016.

The Iowa Interstate is the only Class II railroad in the US that has connections to every Class I railroad, affording its customers a global reach not offered by other regional railroads.


Beginning in the mid-1990s, the IAIS mainline has been identified as a potential route for high speed passenger train service between Wyanet, Illinois (where the IAIS could be connected to the BNSF Railway), the Quad Cities and Iowa City, Iowa, as part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MRRI). The ultimate goal of the MRRI is to establish passenger train routes in a hub-and-spoke formation with Chicago as the hub that allow for speeds up to and above 110 mph (177 km/h). This project has been stalled due to various reasons including cost, funding and changes in the political winds. Negotiations and planning for the project continue.

Other Notes[edit]

The IAIS and the railroad infrastructure were purchased from Heartland by Railroad Development Corporation in 2003.

IAIS subsidiary Rail Traffic Control formerly provided consulting services for dispatching and operating small- to medium-sized railroads worldwide.

In 2004, IAIS was awarded the E. H. Harriman Award for its safe operational record.

Motive power[edit]

IAIS uses 42 locomotives and two slugs to power its trains:[1]

  • 4 EMD SD38-2 (Numbered 150-153)
  • 17 GE ES44AC (Numbered 500-516); unit 513 is painted in a Rock Island commemorative scheme; unit 516 is painted in a Rock Island inspired 30th anniversary paint scheme
  • 1 EMD GP38 (Numbered 601)
  • 18 EMD GP38-2 (Numbered 700-703; 705; 707-708; 710-716; 718-721)
  • 2 Slugs (Numbered 650 and 651)

601 and 650 are permanently mated, as are 721 and 651

IAIS #708 crossing the Government Bridge at the Mississippi River, southbound from Davenport, Iowa into Rock Island, Illinois
Iowa Interstate Railroad passenger cars near CRANDIC shops in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Company officers[edit]

Current Officers

  • Jerry Lipka, President and CEO
  • Joe Parsons, Chief Operating Officer
  • Carrie Evans, Vice President Sales & Marketing
  • Cathy Smith, Vice President Finance & Accounting
  • Chad Lambi, Chief Engineer
  • Andrew Reid, Chief Mechanical Officer
  • Greg Wilson Jr, Superintendent of Cars
  • Al Satunas, Chief Transportation Officer
  • Tom Meierhoff, Director of Rules and Training
  • Adam Sutherland, Director of Safety and Security

Former Presidents of the Iowa Interstate Railroad:

  • Doug Christy
  • Jon R. Roy
  • Dennis H. Miller


External links[edit]

IAIS 513, painted in Rock Island colors, at Iowa City, Iowa.