Since Stefan Soloviev began what became a long, arduous and complicated battle to buy the Towner Line from V&S Railway and, in so doing, save it from being salvaged and the railroad vanishing from Kiowa County and counties to the west forever, he’s been clear about one of his primary goals: to create an infrastructure that would ultimately provide farmers in this region with the opportunity to receive better prices for their grain. As he has stated on several different occasions, part of his motivation is, of course, to make a profit. But Soloviev, who’s had a presence in this region for a number of years, has seen first-hand the myriad of challenges facing regional farmers on an ongoing basis, and it’s his desire to see the farmers in eastern Colorado and western Kansas provided with much needed market alternatives that would be of benefit to them, their operations and their families.
The first step toward that goal was accomplished when Soloviev’s Colorado Pacific Railroad successfully purchased the Towner Line from V&S in 2018. As local residents can attest, time since the purchase was finalized has been spent in lining up and ultimately contracting with companies Crouch Engineering and CWC Rail who have been charged with overseeing rehabilitation of the tracks, performing federal inspections and working with local entities and the Colorado PUC to develop a plan that satisfies signaling requirements. Once that plan, which is pending, is finally approved, service on the line should resume for the first time in more than 20 years.
However, Soloviev is now taking a significant step number two toward meeting his goal, and it’s a journey that appears to be heading further to the west.
In a letter dated November 14, 2019 and written by William Osborn, general counsel for Colorado Pacific Railroad, a proposal is made by Colorado Pacific to the Union Pacific Railroad to purchase the Tennessee Pass railroad line.
As the letter (below) spells out, Colorado Pacific is offering to buy 170 miles of track that run from a point west of Parkdale to Dotsero along with UP’s trackage rights to Pueblo. The amount Colorado Pacific is offering the UP? Ten million dollars.
The rationale for the purchase is simple: to develop a route that would ultimately allow a farmer who grows milo in Kiowa County to load that milo on a freight car that, instead of first heading east and then taking a circuitous route that eventually stops on the west coast as currently is required, takes off west and keeps heading west until the Great Pacific is in view. It seems, as the saying goes, “time is money”. In agriculture, extra miles are money, too.
Mr. Osborn has the following statement about the proposal. “Mr. Soloviev is taking this step because a substantial portion of the time, eastern Colorado and western Kansas grain producers will get better prices if they ship using the shortest railroad route to the West Coast, instead of the Texas Gulf Coast, for the export market.” He further states, “This is part of a continuing effort to open up eastern Colorado farm ground to west coast and pacific export markets for wheat and milo.”