Railroad to Opportunity

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

A new business rolled into the Trans-Pecos area this month. Now the City of Fort Stockton hopes a few grains of sand will jump-start a new trade route and many others will follow suit.

The sound of sand grains falling is the sound of hope for the Fort Stockton rail stop.  While the product may be small, its impact on the community is anything but.

"This is the first weekly delivery project that we've had in a very long time and what it does is establish the railroad as a viable railroad," Doug May, Economic Development Director for the City of Fort Stockton, said. "Which is very important in the long term to diversify our economy."

TexSand just start shipping its first couple of shipments of frac sand via the South Orient Railway.

The special round sand that's being shipped comes all the way from Ottawa, Ill. and oil and gas companies use it to allow the free flow of oil and gas at local wells.

By using the railway instead of trucks, TexSand saves oil and gas companies' money.

"The level of activity of oil and gas down here justified the activity down here to further reduce the cost," TexSand Area Manager Dennis Hudgens, said. "We cut the response time on trucking by an hour and a half, so we reduced trucking costs. That should have a realized savings in the area of 30 to 40 percent."

TexSand currently ships about 1,200 tons of frac sand each week and hopes to double that number soon. It's also bringing more than a handful of new jobs, on top of paying the city $12,000 a year.

But May says that's nothing compared to the big picture.

"That pales in comparison to having an active useable railroad," May said. "The fact that we can prove this railroad works on weekly basis will attract new businesses. We have three or four other businesses on hold just waiting to see that the railroad will work. Once we establish that, it then it opens it up for other types of businesses."

So far, May thinks the Trans-Pecos city is on track to becoming a vital trade corridor to Mexico and the Pacific.