POLAR EXPRESS

The Polar Express will run again this year, but the operator can only sell half of all tickets available to meet the state's requirement of 50% capacity for social distancing aboard the train.

The parent company of the operator of Texas State Railroad changed hands Sunday, Nov. 1.

According to Greg Udolph, the General Manager of the Texas State Railroad, there will be no changes in operations or scheduling.

The TSRR is currently gearing for this year’s Polar Express which kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The Texas State Railroad is a historic 25 mile heritage railroad between Rusk and Palestine, founded in 1883 by the state of Texas, built by inmates, to haul freight.

Regular service on the line was ended in 1921.

The state leased the line to private companies until 1969 then turned it over to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1972.

In 2007, the railroad was transferred to the Texas State Railroad Authority and is now privately operating as a scenic tourist line.

It is currently operated on a limited, year-round schedule.

Jaguar Transport Holdings and The Western Group announced Thursday, Nov. 5, that Jaguar has acquired five short-line railroads and a railroad construction and maintenance company from TWG.

Jaguar is partnered with OPSEU Pension Plan Trust Fund, which invests and manages one of Canada's largest pension funds and has significant experience investing in the surface transportation and logistics space.

The railroads being acquired in the transaction are:

• Cimarron Valley Railroad in Southwest Kansas, Northern Oklahoma, and Eastern Colorado

• Washington Eastern Railroad in Eastern Washington

• Texas and Eastern Railroad with operations between Rusk and Palestine, along with the Texas State Railroad

• Southwestern Railroad in Southern New Mexico

• Oregon Eastern Railroad in Eastern Oregon

Also being acquired is The Western Railroad Builders, a railroad engineering, design, construction, and maintenance firm with industrial and railroad clients.

Jaguar, a transportation, and logistics service company founded in 2018, headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, took over operations Nov. 1. 

Jaguar's entrepreneurial approach focuses on customers and the ability of the Jaguar team to identify new opportunities to grow the business.

"We are proud and excited to have the opportunity to serve the customers, communities, and partners involved with these properties,” said Stu Towner, Jaguar’s CEO. “With our focus on 'earning the right to grow,' Jaguar will create long term value for all stakeholders. It has been a great experience working with Dave and Linda Durbano. We appreciate all that they have done and look forward to working with their team members to continuously improve upon the legacy of safe and efficient operations that they have created." 

"Selling our companies, some of which were crafted from the ground up 50 years ago, was a tough decision," Durbano said. "But we have confidence that Jaguar was the right company to carry on what we started. In addition to the railroad entities, they acquired a great number of talented and energetic people under a powerful management team whom we are confident will help Jaguar grow and prosper."

"Our commercial team is industry and commodity specific, not property focused. This gives them a deeper knowledge about specific industries, and the ability to better understand our customers and provide meaningful logistics solutions," said Tim Enayati, Jaguar SVP Commercial Development.

"We listen to our team members and customers and there is no limit to the value we can create together," Towner said.

Jaguar Transport Holdings owns and operates railroads, terminals and transloading facilities throughout North America.

With net assets of almost $22 billion, OPTrust invests and manages one of Canada's largest pension funds and administers the OPSEU Pension Plan, including OPTrust Select, a defined benefit plan with over 96,000 members. OPTrust was established to give plan members and the Government of Ontario an equal voice in the administration of the Plan and the investment of its assets through joint trusteeship. OPTrust is governed by a 10-member Board of Trustees, five of whom are appointed by OPSEU and five by the Government of Ontario.

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