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Local & Regional

Sooner Sub Line Owner Fined for Missing Passenger Rail Service Deadline

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The company that bought the nearly 98-mile Sooner Sub rail line has been fined $2.8 million for not holding up all of its end of the deal.

"Part of that sale to the Stillwater Central Railroad, which is a Watco company, was a commitment to pilot a passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa," said Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz.

Under terms of the 2014 deal, Stillwater Central Railroad had five years from the sale closing date to establish a six-month passenger rail pilot service. The minimum requirement was one train, five days a week.

Gatz said the deadline for Stillwater Central Railroad to start the service was Sunday. Stillwater Central’s bid for the Sooner Sub was $75 million, plus $104 million in improvements, with $2.2 million earmarked for passenger rail implementation.

The state took ownership of the Sooner Sub line in 1998 to keep it from falling into disrepair. Gatz said the privatization state rail lines has been going on for decades.

"At one time, we had almost 900 miles of state-owned rail line. That number today is about 160, because we’ve returned many of those miles back to the private sector," Gatz said.