About Marquette Rail


Marquette Rail LLC is a West Michigan short line railroad with the unique distinction of being the world's only majority employee-owned railroad.   Marquette Rail operates approximately 130 miles of railroad acquired from CSX Transportation on November 12, 2005.  Our primary route extends from connections with CSX and Norfolk Southern at Grand Rapids northward to Ludington and Manistee. These lines, formerly part of the Pere Marquette Railroad network that covered most of the state’s Lower Peninsula, have been in continuous operation since 1874.

Marquette's leadership team has extensive experience in the structuring, ownership and operation of short line railroads and  the development of high performance, employee-owned organizations based on the highly-successful Southwest Airlines model.  These unique attributes provide for visionary, creative leadership in an industry not particularly known for its vision and innovation.

Marquette Rail is clearly a different kind of railroad – one in which all employees are managers of their assigned tasks; in which customers and colleagues are treated with the respect they deserve; and in which commitment to teamwork results in superior transportation service and team rewards.  This progressive culture is supported by Marquette's Employee Stock Ownership Plan ("ESOP"), which owns a majority of Marquette Rail LLC.

Marquette serves about two dozen customers in six West Michigan counties, transporting chemicals, paperboard, grain, salt, petroleum products and other commodities. We are continually growing the business by generating more traffic from existing customers, attracting new customers to the economic benefits of rail transportation (including multi-modal transload facilities for customers not located directly along our line), and actively promoting the economic development of new industrial and distribution facilities. West Michigan offers a decidedly pro-business environment and hard-working work force, ready access to centers of urban commerce and culture as well as an unmatched lifestyle choice of outdoor recreational activities.

Rail customers find that Marquette brings a local focus and new energy to its mission. Our employee-owners are empowered to make most decisions on the spot, and a single call or e-mail to our Ludington office results in prompt attention to issues requiring additional input. We believe that all customers, large or small, deserve responsive, informed and courteous treatment of their problems and opportunities. Rail transportation is a service business, and Marquette’s future depends on the long-term success of the businesses and communities it serves.

Finally, Marquette is no "Mom and Pop" short line railroad.  Our mainline boasts 110-lb. to 132-lb. rail, a third of which consists of welded rail, and is capable of handling the new industry standard 286,000-lb. gross rail loading ("286K GRL") cars at speeds of 40 MPH.  (Although we maintain our main line to FRA Class 3 track standards, allowing maximum speeds of 40 MPH, we operate our trains at 30 MPH so as to conserve fuel and minimize risk of derailment and customer lading damage).  In yet another initiative to provide more reliable customer service, Marquette has established a fleet of 288 freight cars, one that we are continually expanding through our partner, GE Railcar Services.

Our locomotive fleet consists of second-generation four-axle, 2000-HP GP38-2 locomotives leased from GATX Rail, and six-axle 3000-HP SD40-2 locomotives leased with a purchase option from Great Lakes Locomotive, all of which are equipped with modular electronic control systems, as opposed to the lower-horsepower, less reliable locomotives built in the 1940s or 1950s found on many short lines.  Our motive power fleet enables us to handle 80-car trains with ease.  You won't find that on any "Mom and Pop" short line!