GWI says the acquisition will strengthen its ability to serve industrial customers and Class I railways while yielding significant synergies. The takeover means GWI will operate 108 railways in 37 US states and three Canadian provinces covering more than 19,000 route-km.

GWI expects to fund the transaction and the simultaneous refinancing of its existing debt with approximately $2.0 billion of new debt and approximately $800 million of equity or equity-linked securities.

"The acquisition of RailAmerica by GWI is a straightforward combination of two organisations with overlapping holding company structures and complementary geographies," says Mr Jack Hellmann, president and CEO of GWI.