(The Center Square) — The Federal Railroad Administration awarded the South Carolina Department of Commerce millions in taxpayer funding for a state-owned short-line railroad’s battery electric-powered locomotive project.
The more than $4.1 million for the Palmetto State project is part of more than $1.4 billion the agency announced on Monday for 70 rail projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C., as part of the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program.
The South Carolina Department of Commerce will use the money to cover the cost of the final design and construction of two zero-emission lithium battery electric-powered locomotives for Palmetto Railways. It will also offset the cost of installing associated charging technology.
Federal officials said the project will help Charleston-based Palmetto Railways, a Class III railroad and terminal switching carrier, expand its locomotive capacity for current and future industries. It should also help reduce diesel emissions and improve safety in area communities, officials said.
According to a release, Palmetto Railways, a division of the South Carolina Department of Commerce, will provide a 35% funding match.
In an announcement, FRA Administrator Amit Bose said the “projects will tackle issues facing communities and invest in a 21st century rail network yielding greater benefits – faster and more reliable deliveries of goods, safer communities, cleaner transportation, and more jobs and workforce development opportunities.”
The money is the latest federal funding for Palmetto Railways.
In June 2021, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, announced the South Carolina Department of Commerce received a $25 million U.S. Department of Transportation discretionary grant.
At the time, officials said the money would help fund roughly 22.7 miles of new track to connect the Camp Hall Commerce Park in Ridgeville, South Carolina, with CSX Transportation. The new line would serve a Volvo manufacturing plant, transporting raw materials and finished vehicles.