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New rail line ownership could be the next step for those commuting to Tulsa

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OKLAHOMA  - Making the trek to Tulsa for business or a fun event can be daunting on the TurnPike.

Sometimes you have to pack the car with kids or leave early and worry about parking at the venue.

But there's an alternative transportation in sight.

"It's a very exciting time. There's a lot of discussion that haven't taken place before a lot of discussions now about passenger rail service and increased movement on that line," Brenda Perry, spokesperson for Oklahoma Department of Transportation said.

The Sooner Sub Rail Line is in the process of being sold to Stillwater Central Railroad for 75 million dollars plus the addition financial commitment for improvements on the line. Once finalized, the new owners will have five years to run a six-month trial shuttle service on the line.

WATCO Companies the parent company of Stillwater Central Railroad is excited about the opportunity.

"SLWC is also in the beginning stages of discussions with our partners on the best way to approach and execute a long term successful passenger service on the Sooner Sub," Jeff Van Schaick
Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs Watco Companies/Stillwater Central Railroad said.

So why is the state selling the railroad in the first place?

"The Department of Transportation purchased the rail line years ago back when the railroads were facing bankruptcy, and there was an interest for the state to protect the rail core door," Perry said.

"There's always been an interesting putting it back into private ownership at some point in time," Perry said.

The Sooner Sub Line will first start taking commuters from Sapulpa to Midwest City twice a day with a shuttle service to downtown Tulsa and Oklahoma City. They then plan to extend the rail service all the way to both cities.

"It looks that feasibility it also looks at possible routes and improvements on the line will provide information that will be useful for the future of the passenger rail," Perry said.