City officials are poised to sign a resolution of support for the sale of the railway through Union to an entity that will keep the line functioning.
Community Development Director Joseph Graves said Ameren Missouri is selling a portion of the rail line, including the part that runs through Union.
Central Midland Railway (CMR) operates the railroad now, and has expressed interest in purchasing it, according to Graves.
There also is a group of investors who have shown interest in the railroad for both freight, and for tourism.
“The resolution is neutral, and it does not say which company we are in favor of purchasing the railroad,” Graves said. “We do want to make sure it continues to be active for freight.”
Bids for the purchase of the railroad must be submitted to Ameren by mid-July, he added.
According to Graves the rail line serves nine customers from the area of Interstate 170 and Olive Road in Overland, west to Union.
Four of those customers are in Union, including Silgan Plastic Food Containers, formerly Rexam Containers; TOPS, formerly Esselte; Buddeez, formerly American Plastics; and Hall Brothers Lumber Co.
“It is very important to our economy that this railroad stay open,” Graves said. “Three of our largest employees currently use that railroad.”
Rail tourism could include dinner trips into the St. Louis area, or holiday-themed railcars coming to Union.
Graves noted that one of the investors with the a group interested in purchasing the railroad owns the trademark “Polar Express.”
“If it does turn into tourism that’s just icing on the cake,” Graves said.
The board of aldermen is expected to vote on the resolution at the next meeting Monday, June 9. One of the investors interested in the railroad may also meet with aldermen then.
Graves noted that if the railroad is sold for scrap metal, that could negatively impact the economy of Union.
“I would hate to imagine what would happen,” he said.
“I think there will be some companies that will bid on it for scrap,” he added, “but with Ameren’s very strong econimic development background I do not see them selling that railroad for scrap — they see the importance of keeping it open for freight.”