News Archives

50 Most Influential of 2012

SC Public Railways President & CEO Jeff McWhorter named one the 50 Most Influential People by Columbia Monthly Business Journal.


Jeff McWhorter successfully negotiated the end of a decades-long battle between his organization and the city of North Charleston that will provide rail access to the north end of the port facilities on the site of the former Charleston Naval Base. The state gets rail access, 14 acres of land and the option to acquire 12 more acres. North Charleston gets $8 million over four years, the assumption of some debt, and 100 acres of developable land at the north end of the former base.


View the full list on the Columbia Business Monthly website here:



S.C. Public Railways Upgrades for “Green” Initiative

S.C. Public Railways Upgrades Locomotive in Expanded “Green” Initiative


COLUMBIA, S.C. – April 12, 2011 – South Carolina Public Railways (SCPR), a division of the Department of Commerce, today announced the upgrade to another one of its switching locomotives to voluntarily meet new federal emissions standards as part of the agency’s expanded “green” efforts.


In December of 2010, Public Railways received approval for up to $80,000 in a 50-50 matching grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Air Quality Control to upgrade Locomotive 1001. The project budget was $160,000. SCPR was able to complete the project at a cost of about $155,000 and the work was finished in less than three weeks.

“The upgrade to this locomotive will improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, thereby improving the air quality and the quality of life for the residents in the areas we serve,” said Jeff McWhorter, president and CEO of S.C. Public Railways. “This $155,000 project was completed ahead of schedule, under budget and is consistent with the efficiency with which SCPR operates while serving the needs of our port customers.”


The locomotive, built in 1975, is an Electro-Motive Diesel SW1000 and was upgraded from an unregulated diesel emission performance to a Tier 0+ EPA Certified Emission Standard. SCPR already utilizes ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in all of their locomotives.


The upgrades will reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons and particulate matter being dispersed into the air. SCPR, in partnership with DHEC, upgraded two of its other locomotives in December 2009 to voluntarily to meet new federal standards. The locomotives operate within the Columbus Street and Union Pier Terminals, and on the former Navy base. SCPR operates three common carrier railroads.


SCPR continues to be a critical partner in our state’s economic development efforts by supporting activity at the Port of Charleston, and furthers the state’s commitment to voluntarily reducing air emissions and improve air quality.


SCPR, established in 1969, provides safe, efficient and cost-effective rail solutions to facilitate the movement of freight and support economic development efforts, thereby promoting the economic viability of the state of South Carolina. SCPR also provides technical assistance and consulting services in railroad matters to state, local and municipal governments.


About S.C. Department of Commerce

The S.C. Department of Commerce works closely with economic development professionals throughout the state to recruit new jobs and investments and help existing businesses grow. In 2010, Commerce recruited a record 20,453 new jobs and $4.1 billion in capital investment. Commerce was one of 10 state economic development organizations to receive the Silver Shovel Award in 2010 from Area Development magazine. Trade & Industry Development magazine selected two projects recruited by Commerce and its allies in 2010 for the magazine’s annual Corporate Investment & Community Impact Award. Commerce’s efforts have resulted in the successful recruitment of numerous world-class companies such as Boeing,, Heinz, ZF Group, BMW and Google Inc. In addition to job and investment recruitment, the agency provides a range of business support services and offers grants for community development and infrastructure improvements. For more information, visit



S.C. Railways diesel upgrades


By Ashley Fletcher Frampton

Charleston Regional Business Journal

Published June 1, 2010


With the help of a state grant, S.C. Public Railways has replaced engine components in two of its 10 locomotives with parts that reduce harmful diesel emissions.


Officials from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control today thanked S.C. Public Railways for making the switch and announced a $105,000 grant that pays for half of the cost.


“Reducing diesel emissions is one of the biggest public health challenges that we face today,” said Myra Reece, chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality.


Reece said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires that new diesel engines meet lower emissions standards. But about 20 million older diesel engines are in use now across the country, and because diesel engines have long lives, it could take 30 years before all of those are replaced.


To encourage entities to voluntarily upgrade diesel engines, DHEC provides matching funds through a special grant program.


The replacement of parts in two of S.C. Public Railway’s locomotives will cut down on the particulate matter from those engines by 31% and reduce nitrogen oxides by about 52%, Reece said.


The move improves the fuel efficiency of the engines, reducing fuel use from 12 to seven gallons per hour.


S.C. Public Railways, a division of the S.C. Department of Commerce, operates three common carrier railroads, two of which provide for switching services that allow CSX and Norfolk Southern access to Port of Charleston terminals.


The agency also operates a short line railroad in Berkeley County that serves BP Chemical and Nucor Steel.


Jeff McWhorter, president and CEO of S.C. Public Railways, said the agency hopes to replace engine components in more locomotives in the future.


“By taking proactive steps to improve air quality, we are improving the quality of life for residents in the areas we serve and furthering our commitment to support the port’s clean air initiatives,” McWhorter said.


S.C. Public Railways, the S.C. State Ports Authority and DHEC have taken other steps in recent years to improve air quality. In 2007, for example, S.C. Public Railways began using cleaner-burning, low-sulfur diesel ahead of a 2012 federal mandate.


In March, the State Ports Authority and DHEC extended a voluntary agreement begun in 2007 that has reduced air emissions from port-owned and private diesel equipment.



Employee Appreciation Day

South Carolina Public Railways celebrated State Employee Appreciation Day on May 5, 2010 with a BBQ at the Port Utilities Commission (PUCC).  All employees were invited to attend and enjoy the food and company.  SCPR employees are vital to our successful, safe, and efficient operations.  SCPR appreciates all employees’ hard work and dedication and is proud of all their accomplishments.  Thank you for all your efforts!


CSX Short Line Business Development Award

South Carolina Public Railways’ Port Terminal Railroad (PTR) was the recipient of the 2009 CSX Short Line Business Development Award.  The award is in recognition of the cooperative efforts that generated the highest switch carrier percentage growth.  Switch moves at the PTR increased 191% over the course of 2009.  The award was presented at the 2010 CSX Short Line Workshop, held March 7-9, 2010 in St. Augustine, Florida.  South Carolina Public Railways looks forward to continued growth and success with its partner, CSX.


Articles on Navy Base & Clemson University

Articles from The Post & Courier and Clemson University:


Rail center at Macalloy still offers ports solutions Read More »


Get real on Noisette deal  Read More »


Clemson University Restoration Institute lands $98 million funding to develop next-generation wind turbines Read More »


Port Solutions


By M. John Vickerman

Post and Courier

Monday, November 30, 2009


When it comes to building the new port terminal at the former Naval Base, the Port of Charleston will either get it right or get it wrong.


Last week, U.S. District Court Judge C. Weston Houck denied a request filed on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League to halt construction of the new container terminal in North Charleston. The League is challenging the permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing for construction of the new terminal due to concerns about traffic congestion and pollution. During the hearing, Judge Houck expressed his desire to put ‘all the cards on the table’ to consider all of the transportation and rail issues facing the port.


In denying the motion for a preliminary injunction, the judge raised questions about the transportation issues caused by the new terminal and allowed the League to resubmit its request to stop construction if current circumstances change. The parties must now prepare for a trial to determine if the transportation and environmental impacts were properly studied — or whether the port’s permits are invalid because these impacts were not sufficiently examined.


Meanwhile, a local group known as Shipyard Creek Associates has been advocating for the port to examine functional, on-dock intermodal rail as a cleaner, faster and more cost-effective alternative to hauling cargo by truck. The solution to the League’s valid concerns about traffic and air pollution can be resolved on a 135-acre tract perfectly positioned between the new terminal and an active rail yard operated by CSX. The proposed Macalloy Intermodal Logistics Center would include an intermodal rail facility that functions like on-dock rail. Vehicles powered by low-sulfur diesel fuel operating on a private connector road would transfer cargo directly from dock to train, instead of 18-wheelers. These environmentally friendly vehicles would eliminate the expense, congestion and pollution associated with the current practice of ‘draying’ cargo by truck over public roadways to the port’s existing, remote rail yards. Instead, cargo would be transferred from dock to rail and then immediately exit Charleston without blocking major thoroughfares.


By expanding and leveraging an existing asset (CSX’s Cooper Yard), Macalloy has the potential to take up to 625,000 trucks off the roads each year. The intermodal rail terminal at Macalloy would employ the latest in environmentally friendly lift equipment, including electric cranes and locomotive train engines powered by liquefied natural gas. Macalloy would set a new precedent in the transportation and maritime industries for reducing greenhouse emissions by greatly minimizing the new port terminal’s carbon footprint.


But there’s one thing standing in the way: neither the state Department of Transportation (DOT), nor the state Department of Commerce has embraced the Macalloy concept, even though Commerce’s own State Rail Plan Update says the ‘Cooper Yard-Macalloy site holds the most promise as it is clearly available and could function like an on-dock facility.’


Instead, the DOT plans to build a $300 million, elevated port access highway through Macalloy in a location that would prevent the construction and operation of an intermodal facility. However, moving the port access road a mere 500 feet within Macalloy would allow for a state-of-the-art intermodal logistics center.


Yet the Commerce Department and its for-profit division, S.C. Public Railways, are lobbying for a different intermodal option that would require trains to run through the north end of the former Naval Base, in direct conflict with an agreement the port made in 2002 with the City of North Charleston. Public and private interests, including nearby residents, relied upon that agreement in decisions they made to purchase residential property and to relocate businesses there. Still, Commerce seems intent on pushing ahead, despite opposition from the City of North Charleston and the consequences to its neighborhoods, parks and historical properties, including many on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Macalloy proposal, on the other hand, would have trains exit from the south then transition to existing lines between Meeting and King streets. This route would avoid the negative impacts to the community that would be created by the Commerce Department plan, and it could even accommodate the ‘green’ industry hub and wind turbine assembly plant that are now in the mix. Most importantly, Macalloy offers the functional on-dock intermodal rail solution the port desperately needs to regain its competitive advantage on the East Coast.


When it comes to the new port terminal, it’s not too late to get it right.


M. John Vickerman is president of Vickerman & Associates and a consultant to Shipyard Creek Associates.


Get real on Noisette deal


By Ron Brinson

The Post and Courier


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


John Knott has got to be kidding.


After a decade, his grand Noisette project at the old Navy Base is hardly a model of progress. A $23 million mortgage is in foreclosure, the mortgage bank in bankruptcy and Noisette’s financial operations under court supervision. Other lawsuits are pending.


Yet in Sunday’s front-page article, Knott declares: “We are doing very well. … This project is operating very successfully.”


All might be dandy in Knott’s view, but his ponderous project’s financial pants are on fire.


Noisette seems stranded on ragged rocks that separate vision and accomplishment.

It’s just not fair for a community that granted Knott a development franchise and then proudly anticipated a world class redevelopment of a property that largely defines its history.


Mayor Keith Summey and his city council colleagues have walked many an extra mile accommodating Noisette’s needs and demands. Even John Knott would understand they’d like to start over and do things differently. Heck, Knott probably would, too.


“This property is part of our history; it’s going to be important to our future,” said Summey. “This can’t be about politics; we have to get it right.”


Getting it right is exactly what the public interest demands, and it better happen soon. Time and new opportunities now converge to sharpen the propositions of base redevelopment.


The S.C. Department of Commerce is touting what Secretary Joe Taylor believes are higher and better uses for some of the old naval base property. Turn it into a “green” industry hub, Taylor has proposed. His prospects list includes the Norfolk Southern Railroad which covets better access to port facilities and the old base’s current tenants.

The railroad has a development concept for an intermodal yard surrounded by logistics service companies. No doubt, the Norfolk Southern is attracted, too, by the possibilities of an evolving industry that could grow with Clemson’s wind turbine research and development programs planned at the old base.


Summey understands Taylor’s interest. The mayor and the secretary have discussed some “deal concepts.”


But the mayor seems reluctant to give up on his vision that the north end of the old base should be a multi-use waterfront development dominated by residential neighborhoods. And he doesn’t want heavy rail operations interfering with that concept.


But you sense the mayor and others can see the picture Taylor paints: Boeing’s giant airplane assembly plant at the airport, a labor intensive “green” industry at the old navy base’s north end, each flanking the extended Park Circle residential neighborhoods. In this vision, North Charleston’s modern destiny could be its history — a community knitted by thousands of workers in residence — just like the heyday operations at the old Navy Yard.

Such possibilities and Noisette’s troubled status is bound to give Summey and his city council reason to listen to the state’s ideas.


They should, but planning options are not as apparent as they might seem.


The Noisette project may be bumbling, but Knott and his team retain legal control of the property. Knott might, in fact, survive his immediate circumstances with new financing and the project might yet soar in a national economic recovery. It’s simply difficult for the city to consider options or alternative planning without control of the property.


So for the time being at least, Summey and his council colleagues are all-in with Knott and Noisette. But they should not be shy about regaining control of the Noisette property — if an opportunity arises. That opportunity could come soon if Noisette fails to secure new financing and the court auctions the note and thus control of the property’s future.


A pending lawsuit to determine if rail rights-of-way were part of the property transfers to Noisette also is a major planning key.

If Noisette is declared owner of the track beds, rail operations in the area will be eliminated or certainly highly limited. But if the court rules the S.C. Public Railways Commission retains the rights-of-way, then rail operations will be a reality on the Noisette property.


The future of Noisette will play out as a composition of court actions and political decisions, at a time of unusual opportunities for North Charleston specifically and regional Charleston generally.


Summey and Taylor are preparing for a range of possibilities, and they’re talking about some bold and creative approaches.


Knott should refocus on the public’s interest and expectations. If Noisette continues in place, Knott and his team should resolve to turn hype into actions, concepts into realities. A “New American City” does evoke excitement and anticipation; we’d like to visit it soon.


Otherwise, a place for lots of good jobs seems exciting, too.


As for Keith Summey, he told Joe Taylor he wanted it all — a successful Noisette project, Taylor’s vibrant “green” industry hub, no north boundary rail access — and about $35 million of state money.


He wasn’t kidding.


Clemson – Next-Gen wind turbines


Clemson University Newsroom

Published: November 23, 2009


NORTH CHARLESTON — The next-generation wind turbines and drive trains will be tested by the Clemson University Restoration Institute in a move that is expected to create hundreds of jobs and place one of the most important sites for wind energy research and development in South Carolina.


The Clemson University Restoration Institute and its partners have received a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, combined with $53 million of matching funds, to build and operate a large-scale wind turbine drive train testing facility at the institute’s research campus on the former Navy base.


The announcement was made by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.


A drive train takes energy generated by a turbine’s blades and increases the rotational speed to drive the electrical generator, similar to the transmission in a car.


The award is the largest single grant ever received in the university’s history and represents an enormous economic development opportunity for the region.


The university’s partners are: the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority; the South Carolina Department of Commerce; the State of South Carolina; South Carolina Public Railways; the South Carolina State Ports Authority; and private partners RENK AG, Tony Bakker and James Meadors.


The testing facility will be housed in Building 69, a former Navy warehouse adjacent to existing rail and ship-handling infrastructure, and will be capable of full-scale highly accelerated testing of advanced drive train systems for wind turbines in the 5 megawatt to 15 megawatt range, with a 30 percent overload capacity.


Building 69 stands at 82,264 square feet on 6.3 acres. It was built in 1942, modified in 1985 and decommissioned in 1995. It served as the main warehouse for the Navy’s storage of non-hazardous materials. The building is unoccupied.


Planning and construction of the facility will begin in the first quarter of 2010 with a targeted operational date in the third quarter of 2012.


John Kelly, executive director of the Clemson University Restoration Institute and vice president of public service and agriculture, said this award will further Clemson University’s strength in research and education and support the establishment of a wind energy manufacturing cluster in South Carolina.


The Department of Energy estimates that South Carolina could gain 10,000 to 20,000 new jobs related to the wind power industry during the next 20 years.


In the short term, the Restoration Institute estimates the initiative will create at least 113 temporary jobs associated with construction of the facility and 21 full-time jobs. It also will generate 568 indirect jobs for a total of 852 jobs.

“As the wind energy market emerges along the East Coast and turbines continue to grow in size and weight, South Carolina is strategically positioned to serve as an industrial hub for this evolving industry,” Kelly said.


Kelly acknowledged the contribution of South Carolina’s officials on the grant match component of the Restoration Institute’s proposal.


He thanked particularly Majority Whip James Clyburn, in whose district the facility is located, and Sen. Lindsey Graham; at the state level, Sens. Glenn McConnell, Hugh Leatherman, Larry Grooms and Paul Campbell, Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and Rep. Dan Cooper; other members of the South Carolina Congressional Delegation; the State Ports Authority; the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority; and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. The grant wouldn’t be possible without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


“I would like to thank everyone connected with the proposal for working so tirelessly to help bring the drive train testing facility to South Carolina and the Lowcountry,” Kelly said.


While current turbine technology has enabled wind energy to become a viable resource in today’s energy market, continued technological advancement will be required to achieve the “20 Percent Wind by 2030 Scenario,” as determined by the Department of Energy.


Nick Rigas, director of the Restoration Institute’s Renewable Energy focus area, said the state-of-the-art testing facility, combined with South Carolina’s strengths that include outstanding port and large-scale shipbuilding facilities, local steel manufacturing and world-renowned research institutions, mean the state will play a central role in realizing the nation’s energy goals.


“The importance of this grant should not be understated,” Rigas said. “Clemson, together with the industry that will grow around the testing facility, will drive wind energy research nationwide.”


Clemson University President James F. Barker said this grant means the university can combine its strengths to catapult South Carolina to a leading role in the nation’s emerging and important wind power industry.


“This is a great example of how a research university like Clemson can be a catalyst for economic development,” Barker said. “We have expertise in many fields — energy, engineering, sustainability — as well as a track record of successful collaboration between the university and our partners in industry and the public sector.”



“Disney’s A Christmas Carol” Train Tour

Walt Disney Studios launched a 40-city train tour throughout the US in support of the upcoming movie “A Christmas Carol.”  The train included several interactive exhibit cars, an inside look at the making of the movie, artwork, costumes, props from the film, and artifacts from the Charles Dickens Museum of London.  A sneak peek of selected scenes from the movie was also shown.


The train made a stop in Charleston, SC on October 24 and 25, 2009 at Ansonborough Field.  South Carolina Public Railways employees operated the train for families and guests of all ages to enjoy!

AMTRAK EXHIBIT TRAIN COMING TO CHARLESTON, S.C. Free traveling exhibit showcases Amtrak 40th anniversary








Monday, March 12, 2012






Old Navy base’s best building renewed


It may be the finest architectural work on the former Charleston Naval Base, and a $1.5 million renovation is putting Quarters H-I back into use after remaining vacant for more than a decade…


Post and Courier – Feb 27, 2012






U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $17 Million for Rail Line Relocation Projects Across the U.S.


FRA 06-12

Friday, March 2, 2012






Rail important to state transportation plan, exec says






South Carolina: Invested in Logistics Excellence


- March 2012






The state’s railway assets—CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern, and seven affiliated and combined rail lines—are enhanced by an example of outstanding public-private cooperation in the form of South Carolina Public Railways, a division of the Department of Commerce. Like the state’s port authority, South Carolina Public Railways is an enterprise agency and does not receive appropriations from state government.


Established in 1969, the agency’s mission is to provide safe, efficient, and cost-effective rail solutions to facilitate freight movement and contribute to the state’s economic viability.


“South Carolina Public Railways is typically involved in rail-focused economic development projects with the Department of Commerce, the state port authority, and local economic development agencies,” explains Jeff McWhorter, South Carolina Public Railways’ president and CEO. “We invest in these projects if it makes economic sense for us to do so.


“The agency also provides technical assistance and consulting services in railroad matters to state, local, and municipal governments,” he adds.


South Carolina Public Railways operates three common carrier railroads. The Port Utility Commission of Charleston and the Port Terminal Railroad provide switching services to the South Carolina Ports Authority’s terminals, interchanging with Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern. The East Cooper and Berkeley Railroad, a shortline railroad located in southern Berkeley County, serves BP Chemicals and Nucor Steel.




SCPR hosts conference for South Carolina Association of Railroads


- September 15, 2011














On August 22 and 23, South Carolina Public Railways hosted a conference for the South Carolina Association of Railroads. The two day event featured speakers from both federal and state government, including US Senator Lindsey Graham, US Representative Tim Scott, SC Senator Larry Grooms and SC Department of Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. The event also included a bus tour of the SC State Port Authority (SCSPA) and a presentation by Jim Newsome, CEO of SCSPA.


The Railroad Renaissance


Business Black Box Magazine – April, 2010


One of the largest differentiations most people need to make when considering the rail industry is passenger rail versus freight— they’re handled through different companies. While companies like Amtrak and city transit systems, like Chicago’s CTA and Washington, D.C.’s, Metro Rail, transport people from point A to point B, freight rail lines fall into three different classes.




South Carolina Public Railways Selects RMI’s RailConnect Transportation Management System


RailConnect TMS to Provide Mobile Crew Reporting and Greater Automation for Shippers


Atlanta, GA – February 16, 2010


RMI, the largest independent provider of rail transportation software solutions to the transportation industry, today announced that the South Carolina Public Railways (SCPR) has decided to implement RMI’s RailConnect® Transportation Management System (TMS).


In addition to TMS, SCPR plans to implement RMI’s mCrew module for remote train crew reporting, and ShipperConnect® to provide its customers with real time visibility of their shipments.


“We feel that RMI’s RailConnect TMS offers the most advanced transportation operating system in the industry for short line railroads”, said SCPR President Jeff McWhorter.   “By implementing the advanced features of RailConnect TMS such as m-Crew and ShipperConnect, our train crews, our managers, and our customers will all have more timely information to support operating decisions”, added McWhorter.


Kirk Knauff, RMI Vice President of Marketing and Services said “RMI is always excited to bring new technology to our short line customers.  We have always been committed to bringing advanced technology to our shortline railroads that otherwise would not be able to afford it”.  “SCPR is an excellent example of how our shortline railroads can provide “large railroad” services to their customers”.


About RMI

RMI is a leading independent provider of Transportation Management Software for carriers and shippers.  Founded in 1979, RMI is recognized as the most successful Software as a Service (SaaS) provider in the transportation industry with an in-depth knowledge of rail operations, intermodal terminal operating systems, and multi-modal transportation management. RMI’s software is used to manage rail and intermodal operations, signal and communications maintenance, and end-to-end multi-modal planning and execution for shippers and 3PLs.  RMI is a portfolio company of The Carlyle Group and is based in Atlanta. For more information on RMI visit


Finding rail site may be tough


Near-dock rail lines should serve a State Ports Authority container terminal being built in North Charleston, a new study suggests, but finding a universally acceptable site seems to be a daunting task.




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