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DM&E passenger cars stop in Philip

The PIONEER days of Philip, to REVIEW history, included the westward movement of the railroad. Perhaps someday passenger cars will once again become a part of South Dakota.

The Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E) Railroad has been offering excursion rides and picnics aboard business cars to employees and invited guests as a part of its 20-year anniversary celebration.

In May of 1999, the City of Philip signed a Community Partnership Agreement with the DM&E. The railroad has an engine named "The City of Philip" - engine #3803, a GP-38 1969 model commissioned in July of 1993. A similiar engine, #3801, is named "The City of Midland."

The DM&E Railroad was formed in 1986 as the result of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad decision to abandon its line running from Rapid City through the middle of South Dakota. After a successful effort led by United States Senator Larry Pressler to stop the abandonment, a group of investors purchased the line to form the DM&E Railroad. Since then, the railroad has grown, having acquired the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad (IC&E) in 2002.

Today the railroad serves eight states with over 2,500 miles of track providing direct access to Chicago, the Twin Cities, Kansas City, and water ports. The company is headquartered in Sioux Falls and has approximately 1,000 employees, over 9,000 rail cars, and 200 locomotives. DM&E, along with the IC&E, is the nation's largest Class II Railroad.

The DM&E is now able to reach Sioux Falls in part as a result of the State of South Dakota's negotiated sale of the State's "core line" to the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway (BNSF). In the railroad's original $6 billion upgrade proposal to the federal Surface Transportation Board, DM&E outlined the planned passenger excursion service from Sioux Falls to the Black Hills. That agreement provided access rights to the DM&E on portions of the BNSF tracks.

The proposed rail upgrade project would add 260 miles of new track and rebuild 600 miles of existing railroad. The current 80-year-old track would be replaced with heavy-guage welded tracks (otherwise known as 'ribbon rail"), which would improve safety, speed, and quietness.

The proposed project would upgrade DM&E to a Class I railroad. The DM&E has applied for a $2.3 billion loan from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to help finance the upgrade. The FRA is taking public comments until October 10, 2006.