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Salvaging railroad material can benefit  rail-trail development by defraying costs.


Line Buy – Financing an acquisition of the corridor through the purchase and subsequent resale of all railroad-related material in the corridor.

Trails glossary and acronyms.


RTC Resources

Secrets of Successful Rail-Trails, p. 107 in Chapter 11 – "Finding Acquisition and Development Funds," and Chapter 9 – "Negotiating with the Railroad"

Acquiring Rail Corridors: A How-To Manual, Chapter 7 – "Financing Your Acquisition"

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Additional Resources

Professional Trailbuilders Association: Search for contractors that specialize in salvaging railroad material.

National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association



Salvaging Material

Explore the latest resources on this topic:

Salvaging in RTC TrailBlog
Salvaging in the Library

Potential revenue for your trail project could be gained by salvaging the existing steel rails on a railroad corridor. In most cases, the railroad will remove all salvageable materials before the final property transaction.

Generally, state and federal regulations require railroads to return the corridor to its original condition upon abandonment, which includes the removal of tracks, ties and other structures. However, some physical structures may need to remain for trail use (bridges, tunnels, culverts). The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRCMA) provides a member directory that includes a list of salvage companies.

Railbanking and Salvaging

If you are acquiring a corridor through railbanking, you may be in a position to finance your acquisition through the purchase and subsequent resale of all railroad-related material in the corridor. This step is called a "line buy." Line buys are very complicated transactions that require extensive understanding of the value of the entire corridor (not simply the real estate) as well as the costs associated with dismantling the corridor.

Line buys work because you may be able to manage the salvage of a corridor profitably, while a railroad, because of its legal obligations, may be unable to do so. Learn more about line buys and other types of financing methods in Chapter 7 of Acquiring Rail Corridors: A How-To Manual.

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