Mark Robak
Tim Starostka
Pat Phillips
Ryan Karr

Architecture & Building

beautiful train stations in America - RSTRACKINC
Architecture & Building

America’s 5 Most Beautiful Train Stations

In the vast tapestry of America’s railway history, certain train stations stand out as architectural masterpieces that capture the essence of a bygone era.

From the beauty of Beaux-Arts design to the timeless allure of Art Deco and Neo-Classical styles, these stations are more than points of transit; they are living testaments to the nation’s architectural heritage.

While beauty is subjective, there are several beautiful train stations in America known for their architectural charm, historical significance, and overall aesthetics.

Join us on a journey to explore the five most beautiful train stations in America, where each structure tells a story of craftsmanship, history, and the artistry of travel.

Grand Central Station – New York City

Grand Central Station in New York City is the most well-known train station in the United States.

With 44 platforms and 67 tracks on two different levels, it is one of the largest train stations in the world.

Completed in 1913, the Beaux-Arts design includes a ceiling adorned with constellations, marble staircases, and a main concourse with its famous Grand Central Clock.

It is not only a transportation hub but also a cultural and dining destination.

Make sure to check it out on your next trip to The Big Apple, or dive into this video and discover the secrets in the details of Grand Central Terminal. 

Union Station – Washington, D.C.

Union Station in Washington, D.C., is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece.

Completed in 1907, the station features a grand façade with Romanesque and Classical influences.

The interior contains a stunning main hall with a vaulted ceiling and a central fountain.

The arched ceilings are covered with 23-karat gold leaf.

Thanks to plenty of restorations and efforts to expand the terminal, the station serves as both a transportation hub and a retail destination today.

Union Station – Chicago

Chicago Union Station was designed by Daniel Burnham and opened in 1925.

It is the third busiest train station in the country.

Union Station showcases a mix of Beaux-Arts and neoclassical architectural styles.

The Great Hall is particularly impressive with its towering columns, intricate details, and a soaring barrel-vaulted ceiling.

It was named a Chicago Landmark in 2002.

Today the station is owned by Amtrak and has been revitalized through plenty of restoration efforts. 

30th Street Station – Philadelphia

30th Street Station in Philadelphia is a blend of Art Deco and Neo-Classical design.

The massive 71-foot-high columns on the exterior of the building make it look like one that belongs in Washington D.C. Completed in 1933, the station features a monumental façade, a grand waiting room with high ceilings, and sculptures representing transportation modes.

The station was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Denver Union Station – Denver

Denver Union Station is a beautifully restored Beaux-Arts train station with a modern twist.

The station was originally built in 1881 and was known as the largest structure in the West with a 128-foot clock tower.

A devastating fire in 1894 led to a redesign which was completed in 1914.

The station underwent another major renovation a century later in 2014, preserving its historic charm while incorporating contemporary elements.

The iconic Great Hall boasts high ceilings and large arched windows.

Railroad Construction in the Midwest: R&S Track

These beautiful train stations in America not only serve as transportation hubs but also stand as architectural marvels.

Their historic significance and timeless beauty make them destinations in their own right. 

R&S Track has been committed to keeping railroads in the Midwest safe for over 30 years.

Our services include maintenance, inspections, new track construction, and more.

Call our office at (402) 563-2350 for more information.

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Architecture & Building, Blog

Modern Benefits of a Railroad in the Midwest

Here’s a look at why a Midwest railroad contractor will stand by railroads for freight in this modern age, despite the countless contemporary alternatives. Some of the greatest inventions to come out of our collective history are still heavily relied upon today. Consider the wheel, which has not only defined transport but has also gone on to play a huge role in engineering. Ever reliant upon them today are the trains that span Midwestern America, which in themselves are a vital invention in our country’s history.

8 benefits of having a Midwest railroad

These hulking machines have not only stood the test of time but still offer some unique advantages over other forms of freight transport. Here are the modern benefits of a Midwest railroad.

1. The Fate of Freight

Understanding how rail freight can be better than other forms of freight transport takes a look at how freight has evolved in recent years. The amount of businesses operating in our great nation nowadays is relatively astounding, with many existing solely online and operating from warehouses.

2. Prompt Expectations

The advent of online shopping has changed not only how we purchase goods during a global crisis like a pandemic but also our general shopping habits. It’s no surprise that freight has also had to adapt, with demand for the prompt delivery of all manner of consumer goods becoming a standard.

3. Shipping on a Shoestring

The cost of freight is a major consideration, especially for those companies whose profit margins are reliant on high product turnover. However, other costs have taken precedence in recent years too.

4. Overnight Delight

Many major businesses are transitioning their operations to a digital storefront, to save on countless costs. While this has its benefits for consumers and suppliers alike, there is a downside that has led to the prompt expectations of modern customers.

Once upon a time to buy your desired product, you would go to your local store and purchase one either to be taken home that day, later that week or to be sent out thereafter. This involved a lot of human interaction, which would have acted as a buffer for concerns around how long it might take to receive.

Nowadays, going online shopping, we aren’t faced with any friendly faces of customer service representatives wishing to ease our minds. This has made people more demanding when it comes to shipping times, so freight companies have adapted to acting fast and delivering efficiently.

5. Benefits of a Midwest Railroad

Ask any Midwest railroad contractor their preferred way of traveling across these great states, and they’ll almost always tell you it’s hitching a ride on one of the many trains. This isn’t just because of the scenery, though; Midwestern roads are notorious for delays, accidents, closures, and construction.

So while trucks have proven adept at moving goods quickly across borders, they are quickly slowed by these common issues, which can keep your goods from getting to their final destination within the deadline.

6. Counting Costs

It doesn’t take an economist to understand how shipping things in bulk tends to be cheaper than shipping individually. Although when it comes to shipping bulk loads of any product, it starts to get big and heavy pretty fast.

As previously mentioned, those companies that rely on a thin profit margin on each product need to find ways to move large amounts quickly while minimizing costs. The best way to do this is by shipping as much as possible at once, sometimes amounting to several tons.

7. All Gas No Breaks

A year ago today, shipping via a fleet of trucks may have had a comparable cost to shipping via a rail freight network. Although due to global events, the cost of gas has skyrocketed to a monumental level, making trucks financially cumbersome overnight.

While most trains rely on the same diesel fuel that trucks rely on, the way that each uses the gas is quite different. A modern locomotive is around 10 times more fuel efficient than a truck and can carry a ton of goods 480 miles (ca. 772 km) on just one gallon of fuel.

8. Environmental Costs

Arguably as important as the financial cost is, the environmental cost of our actions on this planet has gained more attention in recent years. Finding ways to enact our businesses while minimizing or mitigating harm can ensure that there’s still a planet and resources for future generations.

Although both rely on diesel, the fuel efficiency of trains is not only a financial incentive but also an environmental one. The benefits of a railroad also tend to be a lot more linear than roads, only requiring a thin strip of tracks rather than spiderwebbed networks across states and counties.

Support your Local Midwest Railroad Contractor

Here at R & S Track, we know that railroads have not only existed in the Midwest for centuries, but they played a major role in the development of our country. If you’re considering buying, developing, or repairing railroads here, be sure to contact us to speak with a Midwest railroad contractor who can help guide your decisions. There are many benefits of a Midwest railroad and our team can help you create the dream railroad.

Be sure to check out our gallery to see some of our work; otherwise, contact us today for any additional inquires.

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Architecture & Building, Blog

How Often Do Railroad Tracks Need to Be Replaced & Tips for Track Maintenance

The weight of a train exerts a constant substantial force on the railroad tracks. Environmental factors also have an impact on the health of the tracks. Over a period of time, many damages occur which cause the railway tracks to become unusable, unusable, and in need of railroad replacement or maintenance. In this article

The most common damages which will require a Midwest railroad contractor for railroad track replacement include:

  • Rail Creep: When the wheels of a train run along the tracks or rails, they generate various forces e.g. vertical force, longitudinal horizontal force, and lateral force. The longitudinal force is what causes the rails or tracks to move along the sleepers. It’s what’s called a rail creep. The outcome of creeping in rails is typically an unequal size of space between railway tracks, and in extreme circumstances, dislocation of the rails themselves. As such, the sleeper can also experience skewing, which will result in significant damage to the line, which will then lead to a weak rail structure and will put the safety of the track at risk. 
  • Rail Damage: Uneven surfaces along the rails are the primary indicators that there is damage to the rails. The changes in dimensions and conditions of a track are often caused by poor railroad quality, construction deviation, design errors, and wheel-rail effects e.g. vehicle load, crawling, and speed. 
  • Joint Damage: Rail joints are important as they hold together a rail or track’s adjoining ends in the proper position both in vertical and horizontal planes. It’s the weakest component of a railroad track, which is why it’s also prone to damage. 
  • Ballast Degradation: The force of an axle load causes the ballast to deteriorate, and fines fill the spaces that are created when the stones of the ballast are displaced. The fines accumulate mostly underneath the sleepers which begin to do so at the formation surface and work their way down towards the base or foot of the sleepers. The condition known as fine-contaminated ballast develops when the layer of ballast becomes polluted with fines that originate from a variety of sources. The performance of the ballast can be diminished from fine contamination. It will impede drainage, decrease track stiffness, and increase track settlement.

All these require the expertise of a seasoned Midwest railroad replacement contractor to resolve. Damages to railway lines not only disrupt the normal operations of trains but also put passengers’ lives at risk. It is crucial to examine, establish, and implement railway track maintenance systems in order to ensure good railway track conditions. 

Maintaining railway tracks with the help of a Midwest railroad contractor can also prevent economic losses which are caused by the disrepair of railway tracks. Regular railway track maintenance can further extend a track’s service life and ensure that all components are in good running condition.

railroad replacement tips concept image.

Railroad Track Replacement Tips & How to Maintain Railroad Tracks

There are different methods to maintain the condition of railway tracks and prolong their service life. 

The proven and tested ways include:

Allocate Resources for Rail Grinding

Grinding the rails is widely regarded as the single most cost-efficient and effective preventative maintenance procedure for minimizing the negative effects of the rolling contact fatigue, for profile restoration, and for getting the most value out of the rail asset.

Rail grinding done by a Midwest railroad replacement contractor can extend the life of rails, offer fuel savings, reduce surfacing cycles, extend the service life of component tracks, increase axle loads, increase train speeds, and improve passenger comfort and ride quality.

Schedule Routine Rail Replacement

When properly maintained by a Midwest railroad contractor, a modern running track has the potential to last for almost 30 years after its construction. 

It may be difficult to recognize the signs of deterioration in rails because they appear to last an entire lifetime. However, it’s possible that facility maintenance staff could miss some of the subtle cues that indicate rail replacement is overdue. 

This is why it is good practice to schedule a rail replacement after 20 to 30 years rather than waiting until issues arise.

Perform Ballast Injection

Ballast offers the railway sleepers a bed that is leveled out, as well as sufficient support. The weight is transferred from the sleepers in order to subgrade and evenly distribute the load. As trains pass by, ballast maintains the sleepers in their position.

Because the ballast can degrade or get contaminated; ballast injection has to be done by a Midwest railroad contractor. 

The process introduces more stones onto an existing ballast bed or surface and leaves the compact and stable ballast bed undisturbed.

Bonus Tip: Tamp, Tamp, Tamp!

Tamping is performed to correct the track’s alignment, cross-level, and/or longitudinal profile. Sleepers are lifted in order to fix the level and vibrating and oscillating tamping tines are inserted into the ballast. Tamping involves the use of a ballast tamper or tamping machine.

Hire Most Trusted Midwest Railroad Tracks Contractor: R&S Track Inc.

The vagaries of the Midwest’s climate, constant vibration, and wear and tear, present a huge challenge to a network. Regular railway track maintenance carried out by professionals such as RS Track Inc. is necessary. We specialize in railroad track replacement.

At RS Track Inc., the service life of an older track can be prolonged, costly delays are avoided, fuel consumption is significantly reduced, and closure and disruptions are minimized. For a clear and safe operation, contact us at RS Track Inc. today! 

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Architecture & Building, Blog

What is Railroad Ballast and How We Maintain It Under your Railroads

The old cliche that a building is only as strong as its foundation rings true both in a metaphorical and literal sense. When it comes to our railroads, one may initially think that the foundation is the tracks, ties, or sleepers, although that’s not quite true. The foundation of every railroad is the railroad ballast that holds everything in place, ensuring that it’s maintained properly will ensure the longevity of the railroad.

Here at RS Track, we employ a range of machinery to help maintain the ballast which keeps your railroads functioning. Using these pieces of machinery requires a certain type of professional such as a Midwest railroad contractor who is experienced with them. Keeping your ballast in check is an ongoing process, and understanding how each machine helps in doing so can save you both time and money in the long run.

What is Railroad Ballast?

As previously alluded to, the ballast is the foundation on which the railroad lies, and its quality has a huge impact on the efficacy and longevity of the rails. Unless you’re a Midwest railroad contractor, you may not be fully aware of the several purposes for the use of ballast under railroads:

— To bear the load from the railroad ties, as well as the train and cars

— Limiting the growth of vegetation that might interfere with the track

— To facilitate drainage of water so that the track isn’t affected during a heavy downpour

The ballast we use on our railroads typically consists of granite, quartzite, dolomite, limestone, and trap rock. These stones typically have hard and sharp edges which enable them to lock together under pressure, and the relatively loose nature allows for flexibility as loaded train cars move over them.

The importance of the ballast shouldn’t be lost on anyone, as it truly is the foundation of all railroads. We employ several tools to manage ballast.

Railroad Ballast Hopper Cars

These are a special kind of hopper car which allow the dumping of ballast on railroads during both construction and maintenance. They are bottom-dumping with hydraulically operated bottom gates that distribute it across the track section, and have bottom shoulder chutes to get the ballast past the tie ends.

Railroad Ballast Regulator

Once the ballast is dumped on the tracks, it needs to be distributed and shaped to ensure the roadbed is level for the rails. This is achieved using a self-propelled, rail-mounted machine known as a ballast regulator or ballast sweeper. Ballast regulators are employed during both construction and maintenance of railroads, and use three pieces of equipment to achieve their purpose:

The Plow Blades: Used to shape and move ballast, and typically consist of two blades that can be independently adjusted to various heights for either side of the track.

The Ballast Boxes: Used for two purposes, to bring ballast back to the centerline of the tracks, and contour it to slope downward away from the tracks perpendicularly.

The Rotating Brushes: After the plow blades and ballast boxes have moved and shaped the ballast appropriately, there will usually be some leftover covering the ties. The rotating brushes safely remove this ballast from the ties to allow for their visibility for a maintenance inspection.

While their main function is in managing ballast, it’s not uncommon for a Midwest railroad contractor to use these machines for plowing and moving snow, clearing bush from the tracks, laying cable, and digging ditches.

Tamping Machine

More typically employed for maintenance or repair, a tamping machine is a self-propelled, rail-mounted machine used to pack the ballast under the track to make them more durable and level. Once upon a time, this was done manually with tools called beaters, but the advent of this machine has saved both time and money, as well as being faster and more accurate.

In its basic form, a tamper only packs the ballast, but more modern innovations have included lining machines that can straighten out the rails benefitting both the comfort of the passenger and longevity of the rails themselves. The tamping machine is typically employed after the regulator and is usually the final process in setting or repairing the ballast under the railroads.

The Importance of an Experienced Midwest Railroad Contractor: R&S Track Maintenance, Inc.

The machinery used in managing ballast is highly effective, although no amount of machinery is going to help without the direction of an experienced professional. When it comes to inspecting the ballast under and around your ties, it can be important to get a second opinion from a local Midwest railroad contractor to confirm or deny any concerns.

Whether you’re planning on constructing, repairing, or simply maintaining the ballast under your railroads, be sure to contact us at RS Track to ensure you have a qualified Midwest railroad contractor at your side.

Railroad inspections
Architecture & Building, Blog

The Importance Of Railroad Track Inspections

R&S Track, your Midwest railroad contractor, provides railroad inspections as part of our high-quality services. These track inspections have helped many clients monitor a track’s overall condition. Track inspections pay for themselves because they prevent future costs down the line. A railroad track’s wear and tear are inescapable, but you can curtail its progression with an R&S track inspection service. 

Rails are constantly exposed to severe stress due to heavy freight, high-speed round-the-clock trains, and the rail cars’ intermittent braking and accelerating. With regular everyday wear and tear and severe stress, a variety of rail defects will occur. Head, web, foot, switches, bolts, and welds are the most common places to find defects. Today, we would like to discuss the importance of railroad track inspections and how a midwest railroad contractor can lend a helping hand.

Railroad Inspections Reveal Rail Defects Including:

  • Abrasion
  • Deformation
  • Machining errors and Fatigue

There are other types of rail surface defects as well.

Rail Surface Defects Include

  • Squats—Squats predominantly happen on the flat part of a rail’s surface and occur when there is a mismatch between the wheel and the rails. The different types of squat defects include vertical, diagonal, and horizontal. The defect grows steadily while branching out horizontally underneath the top of the bearing, dislodging it from the body of the rail.
  • Weld – Track welding produces weak points that are prone to abnormalities and show up in the construction process and during maintenance of the rails. When a new line is assembled, some rails are joined by welding. In addition, rail maintenance also uses the welding process when a rail needs to be replaced. 
  • Joints – Joint area defects are gradual fractures in the web of the joint, usually near or at the end of the rail. The typical joint web defects include bolt cracks and separation at the joint. 

There are many causes of rail defects and rail failure. Some of these causes include bending and shear stress, wheel/rail contact stress, thermal stress, residual stress, and dynamic effects.

Railroad Inspection Defects As A Result Of Rail Contact Stress Or Contact Fatigue Include

  • Tongue lipping occurs when two wheels roll along the same spot causing a groove to form.
  • Head checking occurs when a wheel rolls into a gauge corner and creates a crack.
  • Squats usually occur when a wheel rolls across an existing crack, thus creating a new crack.
  • Another type of defect is caused by water filling up a crack and expanding. This produces a frozen crack.
  • Rail corrosion can also be caused by water and liquid. 

Railroad track inspections assess the operating conditions of the rail and identify areas needing maintenance. But even more importantly, inspections can prevent costly accidents.

In fact, one analysis shows that as a result of railroad track inspections, costs of railway issues and accidents have consistently gone down. The first federal track safety standards came into effect in 1971 following the enactment of the federal railroad safety act of 1970.

These regulations require railroads to ensure that employees who work near the tracks perform visual inspections. A qualified inspector should know about railroad tracks, railroads, and railroad safety. They should also have experience inspecting and reporting on a track’s safety conditions and the safety procedures followed by workers.

The job is physically demanding and dangerous. An inspector should be able to manage long periods of walking on rocky, uneven surfaces. They will be bending frequently and crouching to measure track geometry. Inspecting track defects requires climbing up embankments and track structures along with mounting and dismounting from railway cars.

Most inspection work takes place along railroads, in railroad yards, around track structures, and near railroad cars. Inspectors must wear safety glasses, a helmet, and safe, comfortable shoes when inspecting railroad property. They should be very cautious about getting caught in the moving pieces of turnouts or falling off structures.

There is a good chance they’ll be exposed to heat, cold, rain, snow, poison ivy, or other unpleasant elements. Inspectors also shouldn’t be afraid of heights since they need to climb on bridges over ground and water.

Track inspectors are responsible for inspecting railroad tracks, bridges, tunnels, etc. However, they also inspect freight cars. It’s a dangerous job because they are constantly around moving trains. Even so, a railroad track inspector needs to be a team player who is very organized and stays calm during stressful times.

They are required to complete track evaluations and report violations when necessary. The inspector will determine the need for safety meetings and be able to provide training for railroad employees. The training should include proper inspection, maintenance, and safety procedures for track operation.

A Professional Midwest Railroad Inspection: R&S Track

A satisfied customer is our main focus, and we won’t leave until the job is done. We are equipped to handle any job. To learn more about our services which included railroad track inspections, contact us today!

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Architecture & Building

Industries That Can Benefit from Railroad Companies

The benefits of railroads shouldn’t be lost on many Americans, as our great nation’s veins are those very same railroads that allowed the pioneers to spread so far and wide. Although we’ve seen other forms of transportation become popular, such as air and road freight, in some cases, rail still has the upper hand. This is usually the case in more specific industries, so understanding why railroad companies in these industries can be helpful.

As a midwest railroad contractor, R&S Track Inc is always looking for ways to help people build, improve, repair, and maintain those capillary and artery railroads of our country. Sometimes that means going back to our roots, to those industries which we’ve always worked alongside. Here’s a look at the industries that can benefit from railroad systems.


While the days of coal-powered stoves are long behind us, we still rely on coal for a relatively large portion of our electricity production. That same electricity that powers your home is the same which powers the factories that produce the goods we buy, so the necessity of coal is apparent.

Not only does the coal industry rely on trains, but they have historically relied upon each other, with specific train carts purpose-built to move coal called a coal car. Coal and trains have a long history together, and it doesn’t take a Midwest railroad contractor to see how that will go far into the future.

Construction Materials

Where would we be without the countless buildings which we occupy throughout each day? It’s hard to imagine, thanks to the numerous trains which have carted building supplies cross-country since the early days of modern America.

Construction materials tend to be incredibly heavy in larger amounts, and relatively worthless in smaller amounts, so finding an efficient way to transport large amounts of them has become a must. As with coal, there are various cars which can help to transport these goods efficiently with minimal waste.

Farm and Food Products

While we don’t typically associate a Midwest railroad contractor to the food we eat, their role is entwined with much of what stocks our shelves in the supermarkets. We Americans eat a lot of food and keeping up with that demand is a monumental effort that takes countless trains sprinting up and down the lifelines of our country.

Many farm and food products require refrigeration or certain conditions to be shipped, which can be achieved in trucks but nowhere near as affordable as with rail freight. Shipping food by train also bypasses the risks of traffic jams or other interruptions, which could be disastrous for some kinds of food products.


Whether you like it or not, fashion is a huge part of our cultural identity in modern America. Having clothes has never been considered a luxury here, but without trains, we may not have the same affordability in modern fashion.

Trains offer an easier way to transport large amounts of clothing to even the smallest towns. Granting all access to that which keeps us warm, protected, and relatively dignified.


The irony of road freight relying upon rail freight isn’t lost on the average Midwest railroad contractor, nor should it be lost on you. Most of the vehicles we see on the roads today started their lives as shells being shipped around in train cars.

Thanks to the sheer size of trains, we’re able to transport vehicles in pieces, as well as fully assembled vehicles. This is especially important in those industries with highly specialized vehicles.

Cleaning Products

Coming out of the pandemic, the importance of cleaning products is particularly highlighted. The chemicals which make cleaning products so effective are generally quite volatile in larger amounts. This can make shipping them by other means, such as road or boat, quite dangerous to other people and the environment.

As with other materials, there are specialized train cars that can offer the ability to transport these necessary chemicals safely.

Public Transport

While cars have given us huge amounts of freedom, so much of driving nowadays is back and forth to the same places. With a thousand individuals traveling from the same residential area to the same commercial or industrial area each day, we’re driving climate change at hyper-speed.

Trains have always offered a more comfortable, environmentally-friendly, and scenic way to achieve your daily commute. With the rise of larger corporations, we may see the necessity for train lines from towns to the factories which provide us with the countless goods we buy online.

Finding the Best Railroad Contractor Companies

When it comes to finding the best railroad contractor companies to work with you want to consider a few things before signing a multi-year contract or even a million dollar or more contract. Railway projects usually average around $1 million dollars per mile of railroad track that you want to lay, so most likely your project will require some big bucks.

Costs for a 1-mile railroad can quickly add up.

  • Railroad Switches: $50,000 (for 2 switches)
  • Switch Timbers: $12,000 (for 2 timbers)
  • Railroad Relays: $171,000 (for 245 tons)
  • Railroad Ties: $166,000 (for 3,000 ties)
  • Railroad Ballast: $162,000 (for 6,000 tons of rock)
  • Railroad Spikes: $4,000 (for 68 kegs)
  • Railroad Crossings: $15,000 (for 1 crossing with signals)
  • Labor, Grading, Drainage: Varies by Contractor

Compass International lists the Global Railroad Construction Costs in their engineering handbook what gives a more detailed look at the costs of quickly engineering a railroad, but most of the costs vary from contractor to contractor and from state to state and are even dependent on national level influences like the cost of local, state, and national regulation on the railroad companies. If your located in the midwest, than you have found the best railroad company. RS Track, can help you forecast the costs of developing a new railroad.

Our Midwest Railroad Companies Can Help Your Business

If you work within any of these industries, then we implore you to look into how you can incorporate railroads into your business. Whether that means buying land and building your own, or restoring an older line to its former glory, we can help. Be sure to check out our website or call us today to speak with a Midwest railroad contractor.

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