Area governments seeking to get rail service to Horry, Marion and Columbus, N.C., counties have formally asked to voluntarily dismiss with prejudice their complaint about Carolina Southern Railroad to the federal Surface Transportation Board.
The request was sent to the STB Wednesday, the same day that the governments and Carolina Southern announced a settlement that provides for a sale of the railroad, either at a price negotiated among the parties or one set by the STB.
A voluntary dismissal means that it is done by the complainants, in this case the governments. A dismissal with prejudice means that the case is permanently closed.
The agreement says that if the negotiations fail to produce a buyer, Carolina Southern’s owners will ask the STB to declare the railroad abandoned and set a sale price.
The railroad has not operated in two years and the absence of service has cost businesses in Horry and Columbus counties extra money to transport raw materials to their plants and ship finished products out.
Problems with bridges along Carolina Southern’s track caused the trains to stop running. Carolina Southern owner Ken Pippin repeatedly said the railroad did not have the money to fix the bridges.
The agreement lets the Pippins keep ownership of seven miles of track from Nichols to west of Mullins, where it connects with the mainline of CSX.
Whoever buys the remainder of the track would have to use that portion of the track to get goods from and into the national rail system.
The agreement says that Carolina Southern will allow the new owner access to the track at standard railroad costs.