The company that operates the SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority's five shortline railroads, including Lycoming Valley Railroad, has new owners.
SEDA-COG finalized the sale of the newly formed holding company consisting of 12 people at its June meeting last week.
Steve Kushelhoff, public information manager for SEDA-COG, said he did not know the sales price.
The team of owners is headed up by Gary Shields, who has served as president of the North Shore Railroad under which the central Pennsylvania rail lines operate.
Shields was unable to be reached for comment for this story.
"These guys are well experienced in railroading," Kushelhoff said. "They have a great deal of experience with this particular holding company."
Lycoming Valley Railroad operates out of Williamsport and runs freight service between Avis and Muncy.
Richard Robey had in recent years been looking to sell the company operating each of the five shortlines, which also includes Juniata Valley Railroad, Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad, North Shore Railroad, and Shamokin Valley Railroad.
The company also operated the Union County Industrial Railroad.
"The group that's buying the operating company is the same group that's been running it for the last 28 years, and based on our recent survey of shippers on the five lines, they've been providing quality service and satisfying shippers' needs," said Jeff Stover, executive director of the Joint Rail Authority.
Kushelhoff noted that in looking for a buyer, the authority needed assurance that the lines would be "operated in the quality manner" for which the railroads have gained a reputation.
"They have total confidence in this group," he said.
Robey began serving as the rail lines operator in 1984.
Although he retired two years ago, he remained involved during negotiations for the sale of his company, according to Kushelhoff.
John Moran, president of Moran Industries, Watsontown, sought earlier this year to buy the assets of the authority, which includes some 200 miles of track, engine houses and land in eight counties. His bid also included becoming the operator of the rail lines.
However, his offers were rejected.