The state-owned N.C. Railroad is a profitable enterprise, particularly on the strength of a $14 million annual lease payment by Norfolk Southern to run freight trains along the NCRRs 317 miles of track between Charlotte and Morehead City. But should the railroad company (its holdings are in real estate and infrastructure, not rolling stock) spin off some of its revenue to benefit other state government programs in a time when the budget has been under extreme stress?
A recent pitch in that vein came from the state Ports Authority, which wanted the NCRR to help subsidize improvements at the Morehead City port. The railroads board declined the honor perhaps risking being overruled by the General Assembly.
If the railroads earnings were being tucked under a mattress, that would be one thing. Instead, its approach has been to reinvest in capital improvements such as additional tracks. That makes the whole venture more useful to freight operators and shippers, and even for expanded passenger service. The railroads business model is working. Theres no need to fix it.