Get on board with rail study

A completed Rail Trail running from Broadalbin to the Erie Canal would be a joy and a small triumph for the area.

However, a new short-line rail service south of Johnstown could carry big economic benefits for Fulton and Montgomery counties.

Officials in the two counties appear set to look into the details of possibly restarting rail service on a stretch of the old FJ&G Railroad bed between Fonda and Johnstown to boost economic development.

While portions of the railroad bed in Fulton County have been turned into the Rail?Trail – a paved recreational path enjoyed by residents and visitors to the area – a key portion running from Mohawk into the city of Johnstown has not been developed.

Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said site-selection consultant Michael Mullis – who recently visited both counties – noted rail service can be helpful to economic development.

According to Mraz, Mullis indicated 72 percent of companies contacting him want rail service. Mullis suggested local officials study whether to restore the rail infrastructure from Fonda to the Johnstown Industrial Park.

The service could make it easier for businesses to transport materials and products. This could be attractive to companies looking for a place to set up their operation.

Local officials should take a serious look at starting the service. Officials would need to make certain they understand the potential benefits, costs and risks of establishing a rail service. If they find the effort would be unrealistic, the counties could get back to trying to finish the Rail Trail.

We’ve supported efforts to finish the trail, but economic development must be a priority.