Iowa Interstate Railroad
|Headquarters||Cedar Rapids, Iowa|
|Locale||Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska|
|Dates of operation||1984–present|
|Predecessor||Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Iowa Interstate Railroad (reporting mark IAIS) is a Class II regional railroad operating in the central United States. The railroad is owned by Railroad Development Corporation of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The railroad was formed on November 2, 1984 (four years after the Rock Island Railroad ceased to exist), using former Chicago, Rock Island & 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 IAIS and the railroad infrastructure were purchased from Heartland by Railroad Development Company of Pittsburgh, PA in 2003.
In recognition of the railroad's Rock Island Railroad heritage, the IAIS logo uses a shape similar to the original railroad's logo and has also painted two of its General Electric ES44AC locomotives (513 and 516) in Rock Island inspired paint schemes.
When the IAIS took control of the track, the former Rock Island signal system was already damaged beyond repair due to sitting dormant for several years. Operations on the railroad are primarily controlled by track warrants rather than signals as a result.
Trains are dispatched from the company's HQ in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where a new dispatching office was completed in 2016. IAIS uses Wabtec's Train Management and Dispatching System (TMDS), the same dispatching software used by several Class I railroads, including the BNSF and KCS.
The railroad's mainline is roughly a straight line between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois, with a branch line connecting Bureau to Peoria, Illinois. The mainline is separated into 4 Subdivisions:
- Council Bluffs Subdivision (Council Bluffs to Des Moines, Iowa)
- Newton Subdivision (East Des Moines to South Amana, Iowa)
- Iowa City Subdivision (South Amana to Silvis, Illinois)
- Blue Island Subdivision (Silvis to Bureau Junction, Illinois)
The railroad also includes the:
- Peoria Subdivision (Bureau Junction to Peoria, Illinois)
- Cedar Rapids Subdivision (South Amana to Cedar Rapids, Iowa). This line is owned by the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railroad, but dispatched and operated by the Iowa Interstate.
The Iowa Interstate operates from Bureau to Chicago over the former Rock Island tracks controlled by CSX and Metra. In Chicago the IAIS owns two yard facilities, Burr Oak Yard and Evans Yard (the site of former rail car builder Evans), both in Blue Island, Illinois.
The Iowa Interstate is unique in that it is the only Class II railroad in the US that has connections to every Class I railroad, affording its customers a reach not offered by other regional railroads.
The railroad also maintains two intermodal operations at either end of its line in Chicago and Council Bluffs. The operation in Council Bluffs is also used by the Union Pacific, with IAIS crews inter-changing with UP several times a day.
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.
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, 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).
In July 2019, a new transportation bill was passed by the Illinois state legislature, supported by Governor J.B. Pritzker, $225M was appropriated to begin Amtrak service from Chicago to Moline, IL. A rail connector (junction) will be built between BNSF and IAIS to permit Quad Cities Rocket to use BNSF mainline from Wyanet to Chicago Union Station. This Amtrak route will use the IAIS main line between Wyanet and Moline, IL. Upgrades to IAIS rail crossings, track, and signaling for Amtrak’s 79-mph requirements will be performed.
IAIS uses 42 locomotives and two slugs to power its trains:
- 4 EMD SD38-2 (Numbered 150-153)
- 20 GE ES44AC (Numbered 500-519); 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)
- 17 EMD GP38-2 (Numbered 700-703; 705; 707-708; 710-716; 718-719; 721) 720 was sold/leased to ADM in Des Moines, Iowa in 2017.
- 2 Slugs (Numbered 650 and 651) 601 and 650 are semi-permanently mated, as are 721 and 651
In 2006, IAIS also purchased two ex-China Railways QJ 2-10-2 steam locomotives, numbered 6988 and 7081 for special excursion trains and fundraising events. 6988 has been "Americanized", with a paint scheme inspired by American locomotives. 7081 retains its original China Railways paint with Iowa Interstate badges. In 2018 the 6988 made excursion trips to raise money for local volunteer fire departments in Brooklyn and Mitchellville, Iowa.
The 6988 ran charity fundraisers in 2019 in both Iowa and Illinois. The first trips took place on May 18th running between Henry and Chillicothe, Illinois, and May 19th running between Annawan and Geneseo, Illinois. Later in June the same locomotive made trips in Western Iowa, culminating in a July 4th run between Oxford and Iowa City. 7081 is currently out of service.
Officers as of 2019:
- Joe Parsons, President and CEO
- Carrie Evans, Vice President Sales & Marketing
- Cathy Smith, Vice President Finance & Accounting
- Al Satunas, Chief Operating Officer
- Tom Meierhoff, Director of Compliance and Dispatch
- Adam Sutherland, Director of Safety and Security
- Mike Stuver- Chief Transportation Officer
- Chad Lambi, Chief Engineer
- Andrew Reid, Chief Mechanical Officer
- Bobbi Allen, Director of Human Resources
- Kyle Fries, Director of IT
Former Presidents of the Iowa Interstate Railroad:
- Frederic W. Yocum Jr.
- Doug Christy
- Jon R. Roy
- Dennis H. Miller
- Jerome Lipka
- Ketz, Jonathan (2019-10-23). "Rail group celebrates 'big win' for Amtrak line from QC to Chicago". WQAD.com. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
- IAIS Locomotive Roster
- "Iowa Interstate News".
- Association of American Railroads (February 2005), Iowa Interstate Railroad is the February Featured Railroad. Retrieved May 23, 2005. General overview.
- Bi-State Regional Rail Commission (2003), Midwest Rail Initiative. Retrieved May 23, 2005. Details of the passenger rail studies.
- Iowa Department of Transportation, Amtrak feasibility study of passenger rail service Quad Cities to Iowa City. Retrieved May 4, 2009. Estimate of capitol costs to improve line for passenger rail service.
- Botting, Laura, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co. (1999), Iowa Interstate picks up pieces. Retrieved May 23, 2005. Details of the purchase from Rock Island and Miller's predecessor as president.
- Iowa Department of Rail, Railroad Profiles - Iowa Interstate Railroad Ltd. (IAIS). Retrieved May 23, 2005. Overview of the railroad, mention of RDC purchase year.
- Iowa Interstate Railroad, About IAIS. Retrieved May 23, 2005. General overview.
- Iowa Interstate Railroad (July 15, 2004), Iowa Interstate Announces Executive Appointment (PDF). Retrieved May 23, 2005. Announced Miller's presidency.
- Iowa Interstate Railroad (June 20, 2002), Iowa Interstate Announces Senior Management Changes (PDF). Retrieved May 23, 2005. Announced Roy's retirement from the presidency.
- IAIS Railfan's Guide. Retrieved May 23, 2005. Details the current operations of the railroad.
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