Here, you can start here (I know guys, I know, he doesn't have any capital to get business loans to buy an existing line)
Maybe contact them, possibly for a school project (dang if I know for what class - does Business Economics still exist in High School?). I'm sure our friend Railcarmover can give you a few stories of his own about the shortline business
As you may of guessed, running a short line involves lots and lots of work, worry, and pressure. Businesses that provide a significant portion of your traffic can close just like that, the current economy favors...well, lets not go there, just say it doesn't favor shortline operators.
I believe the great Class I 'transload scam' has cooled (Class Is would build transloads near former branches they sold as shortlines, and then try to have the shortline businesses truck to the Class I transload instead of directly shipping by rail via the shortline - Classly business ethnics, eh?)
but are your tracks 286K freight car capable - do you have government connections to get loans to get them up to speed. Speaking of speed, are the tracks in good enough shape to run a train at more than a crawl? What if the crew doesn't show to run that train. Will you turn to good ol' C&D loadings (indoor transfers only, please) - how about everyone's favorite = MSW (municipal solid waste - yep, trash) - while I thinks railing garbage out is a great solution, it will turn your neighbours into screaming little NIMBY babies (alas, while it will generate apoloxical fits in them, their heads will NOT
explode, so you will still have to deal with them).
Are you ready? I think not, but... who knows, Jimmy Wilson can't live forever