Brad Wiebe of Palliser Regional Municipal Services, and Art Stacey and Hal Koberinski of RailWest Management, completed a whirlwind tour of community centres and halls to espouse the possibilities of purchasing the rail line from Lyalta to Oyen and continue service.
The group was in Drumheller on Tuesday evening at the Civic Centre, where about a dozen members of the community came out for the presentation. RailWest management has completed a feasibility study into rail continuation and presented the results.
Stacey said they have identified a rough break even point of hauling 1,200 cars per year to have a viable rail line. The study is based on grain shipping.
One of thepossible scenarios they laid out was to purchase the western portion of the line from Munson to Lyalta with a favorable lease on the eastern portion to Oyen.
He says there are a number of factors that reflect this being a good option. One is there is a chance they could negotiate a favorable purchase price because of the large numbers of bridges on the west leg. The line is also closer to Calgary and it allows more tourism spin off possibilities. While there may be more competition from large throughput operators on this portion, this is also a higher producing area. Some of the draw backs include the possibility of higher maintenance costs for the line.
He explained the process of discountenance and selling off of the rail, and said time is of the essence as they expect CN to be moving forward with offering the line for sale in the next few weeks.
The steering committee looking into the purchase of the rail line has been given the direction to form a corporation.
Part of the goal of the meetings was to garner support for the line from producers along the line who would be interested in becoming directors or shareholders. From this group they hope people and communities would buy in to the project and raise seed money to be able to make an offer to CN when the line comes up for sale.
Stacey said the value of ownership my not be in holding a share of the company, but in the value of the service. Producers have the potential of realizing savings in shipping as well as more convenience.