The Nashville & Eastern system will become the newest component of the R.J. Corman shortline empire according to a November 5 announcement. The deal will bring down the curtain on a 32-year run for the Drunsic family as operators of 100 miles former Tennessee Central tracks from Nashville to Monterey, Tenn., which had been largely dormant since TC shut down for good in 1968. The line was purchased by the state, which has leased it to N&E. Included in the deal is N&E-subsidiary Nashville & Western, which operates on 18 miles of track from Nashville to Ashland City, leased from the Cheatham County Rail Authority.
The N&E also hosts Music City Star commuter trains over 32 miles of its tracks between Nashville and Lebanon. The commuter trains are operated by Transit Solutions Group, under contract with the Regional Transportation Authority, and carry its six daily runs carry approximately 300,000 passengers annually. R.J. Corman will be taking over Transit Solutions Group along with N&E and NWR. William Drunsic and two partners founded the Nashville & Eastern in 1986, and he acknowledged mixed feeling about relinquishing the company.
“After 32 years of dedicated efforts to build a viable operation in middle Tennessee, it was time for my family to step aside and make way for a larger organization, in order to best capitalize on all of the expanding opportunities on the horizon. Though our departure comes with a great deal of emotion, we could not be more excited about bringing R. J. Corman into the picture,” said Drunsic.
Once powered by a collection of second-hand U-Boats and Dash 7s, some of which remain on the property, the N&E roster remains all-GE, with five former LMX B39-8’s and eight former BNSF and CSX B40-8’s. Operations by R.J. Corman will begin on January 1, pending regulatory approval. “This acquisition is a big step in our company’s goal of growing in our core competencies,” said Ed Quinn, president and CEO of R. J. Corman Railroad Group.
—Eric Berger, Railfan & Railroad