North Bay Freights One Step Closer

North Bay cargo trains may be closer to returning to the Northwestern Pacific Railroad now that a major obstacle has been removed.

U.S. transportation regulators have ruled that the North Coast Railroad Authority doesn’t need commuter rail’s okay to reopen the freight line.

That means the Federal Railroad Administration can now inspect repairs on a 62-mile stretch of track between Napa County and Windsor. “It’s a significant step,” NCRA director Mitch Stogner said Monday.

But NCRA still needs a joint operating agreement with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, the commuter rail agency that owns the tracks.

NCRA hopes to begin freight service on the segment early next year, Stogner said, which will provide a lower-cost alternative for shippers and take truck traffic off Highway 101.

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