Idaho Mountain Express could become the model for a nationwide railroad to link freight terminals and passenger trains.
The Idaho-based company said it is currently evaluating a potential sale of its Alaska Pacific line to Alaska, which would see the line open to more freight in 2018.
“Our focus is to be in a position where we can be competitive with other rail systems, but it’s a very long process,” said Erik Bostrom, CEO of the company.
“We’re working on the long-term plan to make that happen.”
Bostrom said the Alaska deal is part of a broader effort to build the Idaho-Alaska rail link.
The two rail lines would run along the same stretch of the Columbia River.
The Idaho-Montana line is the longest, and it connects the cities of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Billings, Montana.
The Montana line would extend through Idaho Falls, Montana, to reach a new terminus in Seattle.
“We see Alaska as a great fit for us,” Bostram said.
“It would be a huge investment for us to build a freight-transport line across that huge piece of land.”
Bastrop, Texas-based Transocean Ltd., has said it expects to complete its Pacific NorthWest line by 2021, with a connection to Seattle.
The line is currently under construction at an estimated cost of $4.2 billion, and Transo is hoping to open the new terminal at the same time.
The company has said its trains will be able to travel from Portland to Seattle in just over 24 hours.
The company recently announced plans to build an 80-mile Pacific Coast-to-Pacific rail line connecting Fort Worth, Texas, to San Francisco in 2021.
The project has been under construction since 2012.
Transocean has been investing in new technology to increase the speed and capacity of its trains, including the use of electric motors, a new engine, and a new propulsion system.
Bostrum said Transo had already been able to accelerate trains on its Alaska line from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle by using electric motors.
“That’s just really impressive technology,” he said.