Home > Awards   +   Infrastructure

Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway Successful in Federal CRISI Grant Award

On November 9, 2023, the Ohio Rail Development Commission (Rail Commission) approved $264,000 in grant funding to the Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway and authorized staff to administer a recently awarded Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant.  A total of $10,792,000 was awarded in CRISI funds, with $4,361,000 in private railroad funds contributing to the total $15,417,000 project.

The Napoleon Defiance and Western (NDW) partnered with the Rail Commission on a December 2022 submission to the Federal Railroad Administration. The project is a continuation of previous partnerships between the railroad and the Rail Commission and is the second federal grant received for this rail line. 

NDW owns and operates 43 miles of track from Woodburn, Indiana to outside Napoleon, Ohio. The railroad has suffered from years of deferred maintenance and ranks among the highest derailment rates in the country, leading it to hold the unfortunate distinction as the “Worst Railroad in America.” With ownership changes at NDW in 2019 and 2022, the preservation and rehabilitation of the NDW became a high priority. The awarded project will complement the work undertaken by previous projects in 2020 and 2021, focusing on the portion of the line between Defiance and Napoleon.

“We are privileged to work with the Ohio Rail Development Commission and deeply appreciate the Rail Commission’s direct grant to the Patriot Rail Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway. The Rail Commission’s funding commitment to this project, in combination with NDW’s private contribution, enabled the award of this very significant Federal Railroad Administration CRISI grant that will continue our transformation of the NDW and increase safety, reliability and efficiency for the rail shippers we serve in the State of Ohio,” said John E. Fenton, CEO Patriot Rail.

Matthew Dietrich, Executive Director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, said “After decades of deferred maintenance of this rail line, the Rail Commission is happy to partner with the railroad to continue these critical investments in the line.  This project ensures the rail line continues to be an asset for the region’s economic development efforts for many years to come. The enhanced safety improvements make this project a huge win for all involved.”