Thursday, October 18, 2012


SAN ANTONIO—Port San Antonio and Watco Companies today inaugurated a rail service that clears the way for significant new growth at the Port’s East Kelly Railport. The San Antonio Central Railroad (SACRR) now operates within the 350-acre site. San Antonio Central also transfers railcars from nearby Union Pacific and BNSF Railway trains and delivers the cargo to the front door of the growing number of logistics, manufacturing and warehousing businesses at the Port.

In addition to operating the region’s newest rail service, Watco Companies has completed the first phase of important track expansions at East Kelly Railport. Over the summer, the firm doubled track at the Railport from four to almost eight miles.

The inauguration of the San Antonio Central Railroad comes at an important time in the growth of East Kelly Railport. Port San Antonio began operations at the Railport in 2007, initially attracting businesses specializing in railcar repairs as well as transloading and warehousing firms that serve the region’s construction and retail industries.

The Railport has since added customers in the recycling, manufacturing and energy sectors. In particular, strong demand from oil and gas drilling projects on the Eagle Ford Shale have driven growth at the Railport. Between fiscal 2010 and 2011, rail volume grew over 75 percent—from 2,594 railcars served in FY2010 to 4,556 in FY2011. In FY2012, which concluded September 30, a new record was set with 5,167 railcars processed at the Railport.

The new activity has been largely driven by demand for transloading services for drilling equipment and supplies headed to Eagle Ford Shale well sites. The track expansion now allows businesses at the Railport to serve up to 20,000 railcars per year.

“We are pleased to have formed a strategic partnership with Watco Companies so our customers can enjoy an efficient rail platform to support their businesses,” said Bruce E. Miller, President and CEO of Port San Antonio. “We are committed to working with our customers, the railroad companies and the community to build the Railport to its highest and best uses as the Port continues serving as an important economic generator for the region.”

“Watco is proud of our new service to customers in South Texas,” said Rick Webb, CEO of Watco Companies. “The dynamic growth of the Eagle Ford Shale and other important rail-dependent industries in the region make this the right time for us to provide our expertise and range of services. And Port San Antonio is the right place to build a strong foundation for our company’s and our new customers’ growth.”

Kansas-based Watco Companies is one of the largest firms specializing in the operation and development of short-rail services in the United States and Australia. Since 1983, the firm has established railroads in 26 states to support an array of customers in a variety of industries. San Antonio Central is Watco’s 30th railroad. For more information about San Antonio Central Railroad visit

Other upcoming infrastructure improvements benefitting growth at the Railport include a $7.8 million project, currently in the planning stages, that realigns Quintana Road over several blocks and adds integral drainage infrastructure. As growing rail activity creates more incoming and exiting truck traffic from the Railport, the effort will improve road safety and alleviate flooding outside the Railport’s main entrance and in the surrounding neighborhood. Funding for the project includes $6.24 million approved earlier this year by the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which allocated $90 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funds to address regional infrastructure needs as part of the MPO’s 2013-16 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

The City of San Antonio’s Capital Improvement Management Services Department (CIMS) will lead road improvements on Quintana Road. Partners supporting the effort include the Quintana Community Neighborhood Association, City of San Antonio, Port San Antonio, VIA Transit and Alamo Colleges, whose St. Philip’s Southwest Campus at East Kelly is experiencing significant growth in enrollment, also resulting in increased road traffic outside the Railport.