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Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad

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This page was last updated on December 4, 2013.

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Overview

Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad (SBGR) started freight service on October 1, 2007 over UP's former D&RGW Bingham and Garfield branches. SBGR acquired the rights to freight operations along the UTA Mid Jordan light rail line, and along UP's Garfield and bacchus branches. The acquisition took place in late March 2007, for a total of 20.87 miles of track that included the following trackage:

March 29, 2007
Union Pacific sold to Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad, portions of the former D&RGW Bingham and Garfield branches.

The new railroad's center of operations at Midvale is also the starting point for Utah Transit Authority's planned Mid Jordan Light Rail extension between Midvale and Bagley, six miles to the west near the street intersection of 5600 West Street and the Old Bingham Highway. UTA owns the right-of-way and the tracks themselves, and SBGR will provide freight service.

UTA originally purchased a portion of the right-of-way in May 2002 that would allow it to construct a parallel line, but in March 2007, purchased the entire six miles of right-of-way and track. Freight service along this six mile portion was originally to be provided by Union Pacific, which sold those rights to Savage in March 2007. UTA and SBGR reached an agreement that would restrict freight service to a five hour time period between 12 midnight and 5 a.m., Monday through Friday. All other times are set aside as exclusive for UTA passenger operations.

The Garfield Branch connects with the Bingham Branch at Welby, four miles west of Midvale, near the street intersection of 4200 West and 9000 South, along the Old Bingham Highway. Union Pacific retained ownership of the Garfield Branch, separate from the sale of the Bingham Branch to UTA, and in March 2007, sold the right-of-way and tracks of the Garfield Branch to SBGR.

Savage Industries History

"The history of Savage began in 1946 when Kenneth Savage returned home to American Fork, Utah after serving in the Navy. As partners, he and his father purchased an International KB-5 two axle stake bed truck and started C. A. Savage and Son." (http://www.savageind.com/history.html) (broken link)

By the 1980s and 1990s Savage had branched out into various industries including operating the fourth largest underground coal mine in the United States, heavy truck manufacturing, aggregate mining, ready-mix concrete production, explosives manufacturing, tire sales, and land development. The company's business network was becoming too broad, so in 1988, senior management decided to return to the core business. "We decided that we are a materials management and transportation systems company, and we divested those companies that didn't fit our strategy," says Donald Alexander, Savage vice-president of operations. "As a privately held company, we can take a long-term view. We can be more proactive and less reactive."

During the mid 1990s the company made a further decision to reorganize into three customer-focused industry units: Coal and Coke Services, Power Generation Services, and Industrial and Rail Services.

Since 1995, Savage has owned and operated the Savage Coal Terminal, located four miles south of Price, Utah. Previously known as C. V. Spur Coal Processing and Loadout Facility, the loadout was built by Utah Power & Light Co. in (?), and sold in August 1984 to Beaver Creek Coal Company, subsequently Mountain Coal Company. Savage took over the 154-acre facility in July 1995. Although the loadout has a stated capacity of eight million tons per year, it typically handles about three million tons of coal per year. (source)

In 1997 Savage Industries acquired 11 Conrail Corporation Flexi-Flo facilities in the northeastern and midwestern United States. This acquisition gave Savage a network of 26 rail transfer terminals in 14 states, relieving Conrail of the need to operate its own rail-to-truck and truck-to-rail transloading facilities. By 1997, Savage had been in business for 50 years, and had facilities in 22 states. "We are the largest over-the-road coal transporter in the United States, and much of the coal is handled in conjunction with transloading activities," according to Robin K. Davidson, director of marketing and business development for the industrial and rail services unit at Savage. "We transported approximately 40 million tons of bulk commodities in 1997, and coal accounted for a majority of our volume."

At the time of the 1997 acquisition of Flexi-Flo, Savage had transloading locations in Flint, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois; Salt Lake City and American Fork, Utah; Portland, Oregon; Bowbells, North Dakota; Encino and Thoreau, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; Rifle, Colorado; and Dallas, Lubbock, and San Antonio, Texas. The Flint and Louisville locations were operated under contract to CSX TransFlo.

The former Conrail locations were renamed to Savage/Flexi-Flo, and the terminals were located in Boston, Massachusetts; Buffalo and Syracuse, New York; Indianapolis and Jeffersonville, Indiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan. Boston, Buffalo, and Philadelphia each have two facilities. (source)

In May 2004, Savage Industries purchased 100 percent of the stock of Canadian National's CANAC, Inc. (http://www.canac.com/index.shtml) (broken link)

In May 2005, Savage Industries, through its Savage CANAC subsidiary, purchased Alberta RailNet based in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. Alberta RailNet (ARN) operations consisted of 345 miles of railway in energy-rich northwestern Alberta and connected the Canadian National Railway to move its shipments of coal, lumber, grain, fertilizer, aggregates and many other products. At the time of the sale, ARN moved about 25,000 carloads per year, but that figure was expected to increase to more than 40,000 carloads by 2006. (http://www.savageco.com/press_release_alberta.html) (broken link)

On December 1, 2006, CN bought Savage Albert Railway, the former Alberta RailNet, from Savage for C$25 million. (CN press release dated December 1, 2006)

Timeline

December 2, 2002
Union Pacific received approval from the federal Surface Transportation Board to abandon 5.21 miles of the former D&RGW Bingham Branch. This section of track runs from MP 6.60 near Bagley (West Jordan Industrial Park) to MP 11.81 near Lead Mine (Copperton). This trackage had been sold to Utah Transit Authority, but UP had retained "perpetual easement and common carrier obligation to conduct freight operations", and this action allowed UP to abandon those rights. (STB Docket AB-33, Sub 194X; notice of intent to abandon published in Salt Lake Tribune, November 8, 2002)

March 15, 2007
Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad (SBGR) received the approval of the federal Surface Transportation Board to acquire and operate Union Pacific's former D&RGW Bingham and Garfield branches. The trackage involved included the former D&RGW Garfield Branch that extends from mile post 4.66 at Welby to mile post 17.10 at Magna, and includes the two-mile Bacchus Spur that serves the Alliant Techsystems Bacchus Works rocket motor manufacturing center. Another segment is the Bingham Industrial Lead between Midvale and the Bagley Industrial Park at the Lead's mile post 6.6. The connection for the Garfield Branch is at Welby, at mile post 5.0 on the Bingham Industrial Lead (former D&RGW Bingham Branch). (STB Finance Docket 35002, decided March 7, 2007) (The original SBGR filing was on February 27, 2007)

March 28, 2007
The STB approval of the acquisition (lease?) from UP to both UTA and SBGR was "stayed" by a protest from shippers along the two lines. The shippers, under the name of Utah Shippers Coalition, were concerned that the five hours permitted for freight operations would not be sufficient to allow SBGR to fully service all of the customers along the line. (STB Finance Docket 35008, decided on March 28, 2007)

The coalition was made up of the shippers served by UP along the same trackage, including American Welding, Frito-Lay, Mastercraft Cabinets, SME, BMC Lumber, Interstate Brick, and the combined interest of the U. S. Navy and Alliant Techsystems. On April 26, UTA, UP, and SBGR reached a settlement and filed a reply with the STB, answering the concerns of the above Utah Shipper Coalition. In late May 2007, SBGR and the Coalition reached a settlement that satisfied the shippers' concerns. (STB Finance Docket 35008, Motion for Protective Order, decided on June 19, 2007)

July 20, 2007
The federal STB gave its final approval for SBGR's acquisition of freight rights along UTA's Mid Jordan line and UP's Garfield and Bacchus branches, following its review and approval of the confidential agreement, settlement, and operations protocol between UP, UTA, and SBGR, and the Utah Shippers Coalition that addressed all of the shippers' concerns. The operations protocol formally laid out how UP and Utah Railway (as contract carrier for BNSF) would stage freight traffic at Midvale so that SBGR would have sufficient time during its five-hour window of operations to serve all of the shippers along the two branches. The STB reserved a two-year period of review following the startup of UTA passenger operations to ensure that all of the shippers' concerns were being met. (STB Finance Docket 35008, decided on July 20, 2007)

According to an item in the Deseret Morning News on August 9, 2007, UTA's Mid Jordan Light Rail line is planned for a startup in 2011. As of September 2007, the line's design and operation remains in various stages of engineering and environmental review. According to a UTA overview of the project, initial construction activity will begin in the fall of 2007.

September 18, 2007
SBGR's two former AT&SF B36-7 locomotives were delivered at Midvale by Union Pacific. (source)

October 1, 2007
Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad Company operations began. In a decision dated April 7, 2008, the Railroad Retirement Board determined that Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad Company became an employer covered under the Railroad Retirement Act and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act on August 6, 2007, the date from which employees were first compensated. Based on information provided by Mr. Richard F. Riley, Jr., Esq., attorney for SBGR, SBGR operates freight service on three branch lines on 21.2 miles of trackage in the Salt Lake City, Utah area terminating at Midvale, Utah. SBGR connects with the Union Pacific Railroad Company. SBGR employees were first compensated beginning August 6, 2007 and actual operations began on October 1, 2007. Surface Transportation Board (STB) authority for SBGR operations is set forth at STB Finance Docket No. 35008, decided July 20, 2007. (source)

December 21, 2007
Savage installed a new but small office building as its base of operations at Midvale. The office is located just to the south of Utah Railway's office. Also, Savage installed Hot Start equipment needed to allow it to shutdown its locomotive between periods of operations, to save both fuel and reduce the environmental impact of idling locomotives. (Information from Ryan Ballard; photo of Savage's office building by James Belmont)

Operations as of April 2008

Kirk Rogers shared the following on the Utah Railroading discussion group on April 10, 2008:

Utah Railway owns nothing in all of Salt Lake County. They have trackage rights as part of the fair competition agreement when UP took over all former ex-DRGW trackage. Utah Railway is operating under subcontract from BNSF and continues to do locals on the ex-DRGW Garfield branch to Kennecott, and a PVC pipe manufacturing facility in West Jordan (of course they have to travel over UTA owned trackage to get to the Garfield branch).

UTA owns the Bingham branch from the wye at Midvale yard all the way out to end of track near Highway 111 on the west side of the valley near Copperton. This is the line that crosses 90th south at about 4200 west, and is currently under rehabilitation for light rail use.

UTA does not own the ex-DRGW Garfield branch. When I say the Garfield branch, I'm talking about from Welby Junction in West Jordan to Kennecott Copper which runs through West Jordan, Kearns/Taylorsville, West Valley City, and Magna. This is not to be confused with the Kennecott ore haulage line. The ex-DRGW Garfield branch is in fact owned and operated by the Savage Bingham and Garfield railway. They own it, Utah Railway has only trackage rights, and UTA has not a single thing to do with it.

Kennecott runs their ore haulage line once every 30 days or so and actually keeps the track pretty well maintained even though the railheads are always rusty and starting to be overcome by vegetation in some spots. I've seen both rails and ties replaced as recent as a year or two ago. They also use it on occasion for transporting crews and materials between Copperton and the Magna smelter. This information is straight from Louie Cononelos, Kennecott's public relations liaison. Kennecott owns it and always has since they built it back in 1947. It is rumored that UTA has an interest in obtaining the Kennecott ore haulage line for future light rail expansion but it's just that, a rumor.

To further clarify if it couldn't be clear enough, UP sold the ex DRGW Bingham Branch to UTA in May of 2002. UP then sold the ex-DRGW Garfield branch to Savage Industries, the parent company of the Savage Bingham and Garfield Railroad, which commenced full operation in October of last year.

Daland Speirs on the Utah Railroading discussion group shared the following on April 11, 2008:

Savage calls in for access to the branch line to UTA TRAX control. I've heard this many times while at work and Savage will usually come off the branch line around 11:30 PM to maybe 1:00 in the morning or thereabouts. I've also seen them and heard them on it during the day so they can be on it at almost any time. I've yet to hear them request authorization to enter during graveyard hours.

Savage will call clearances when heading to and from the wye at Welby towards Magna so UTA isn't involved in that portion.

Before Savage started operating and UP and Utah Railway were still running on the branch line, I don't recall hearing them contact TRAX control for "track and time". Was this handled by UP dispatch or another control? I believe that Savage took over late last summer and it was around this time that they began to call into TRAX for "authority" to enter the branch line.

A lot of work has been put into branchline from Welby to Magna. The single crossbuck crossing at 4700 South, just east of 5600 West has been replaced with a modern light and gate type crossing with a high median/curb in the center.

Locomotives

Road
Number
Previous
Number
Model Builder
Number
Builder
Date
Date To
SBGR
Notes
SVGX 3611 BCR 3611 B36-7 GE 43140 Nov 1980 18 Sep 2007 1
SVGX 3612 BCR 3612 B36-7 GE 43141 Nov 1980 18 Sep 2007 1
SVGX 8619 HLCX 3879 GP38 EMD 37636 Jun 1971 Aug 2008 2
SVGX 8620 HLCX 3700 GP38M-4 EMD 36692 Dec 1970 Aug 2008 3

General Notes:

a. The SVGX reporting mark is assigned to Savage Industries' subsidiary Savage Services Corporation, and is also used on Savage locomotives at other locations.
b. SBG is the assigned reporting mark for for Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad (assigned on October 1, 2007); SBGR is used as an abbreviation.
c. Individual unit histories:
  Road
Number
First
Number
Second
Number
Third
Number
Fourth
Number
Fifth
Number
Sixth
Number
Seventh
Number
Frame
Number
  SVGX 3611 ATSF 7494 BCR 3611            
  SVGX 3612 ATSF 7495 BCR 3612            
  SVGX 8619 L&N 4047 SBD 6268 CSX 2177 HLLX 2177 SP 4873 UP 498 HLCX 3879 7305-18
  SVGX 8620 B&O 4816 CSX 2116 HLCX 3700         7274-27

Notes:

1. SVGX 3611 and 3612 are former AT&SF units, part of a group of 16 units numbered as ATSF 7484-7499, built in 1980 and returned to GE in 1989; used in GE's nationwide lease fleet until all were leased to British Columbia Railway (BCR) in 1994. BCR formally purchased the units in February 1995; BCR offered the units for sale in September 2002; sold to (?) (at least one unit later sold to Ohio Central); SVGX 3611 and 3612 used by Savage on their Savage Alberta Railway (former Alberta RailNet) operation until SAR was sold to CN in December 2006.
2. SVGX 8619 was built as L&N 4047; renumbered to SBD 6268; renumbered to CSX 2177; lease expired and returned to owner Helm Financial; renumbered to HLLX 2177; leased to SP and renumbered to SP 4873; renumbered to UP 498; lease expired and returned to Helm; renumbered to HLCX 3879
3. SVGX 8620 was built as B&O GP38 4816; leased by B&O to Canadian Pacific Ry. during 1983-84; to CSX by merger on 30 April 1987; renumbered CSX 2116; retired by CSX on 29 September 1993; sold to Helm Atlantic Associates (HATX, San Francisco, Calif.) on 12 May 1994; stored at Metro East Industries (East St. Louis, Ill.) by May 1996; ownership changed from joint CSX/Helm HATX ownership to full Helm (HLCX) ownership; rebuilt into a GP38M-4 by Boise Locomotive Co. (Boise, Idaho), completed on 27 March 1997 as HLCX 3700; leased to Kansas and Oklahoma RR. (Wichita, Kansas) by April 2002; sold to Savage Bingham & Garfield Railroad (Midvale, Utah) as SVGX 8620 in August 2008 (information in part from James Mischke via email on December 12, 2008)

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