East rail line deal falls through, west line may still have future | DrumhellerMail
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Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2024 5pm

East rail line deal falls through, west line may still have future

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    As news comes in that the CN rail from Hanna to Oyen has been lost, the west line from Hanna to Lyalta may have a future.

    Badlands Rail Company has been trying to hammer out a deal with CN over retaining the west end line since showing interest in October. CN  put an end to negotiations over the east line in December.
    “They didn’t seem to want to have the line completely through,” says Badlands Rail Company President Barrie Hoover. “They just want their line from Edmonton to the east coast open.”
    The CN representative in negotiations with the BRC, which has 22 board members and over 200 shareholders, has a tentative appointment booked with BRC on January 28. The BRC hopes to gain control of the line, which has been valued at over $14 million.
    Hoover believes the agricultural, tourism, and transportation value of retaining the west line is worth the big price tag. If the line is kept, grain transportation is expected to lessen the deterioration of Alberta’s highways, which is also hoped to bring provincial interest in the form of grants. Money will be shaven off the  approximated $14 million price, as CN has agreed to take tax receipts worth 20 per cent of the line.
    “In preparations with CN, we’ve done an analysis of how many cars we could attract to a delivery point,” says Starland CAO Ross Rawlusyk. “If everything that was grown in Starland and Wheatland was moved by rail, there would be potential for 11,000 grain cars of volume.”
    “We’re anticipating that the line would be feasible, just from an agriculture perspective.”
    Rawlusyk says that CN has not marketed the line in 20 years. He believes CN does not see there is enough traffic volume potential there for their operation. “Obviously producers in Special Areas must agree with them, because they didn’t try to retain the rail in their municipality. But the feasibility study done by us suggested that the viability of the line is in the western portion of the line.”
    If the line is retained, the possibilities for a new market of industrial and tourism markets is strong.
    “Without the rail, you can’t do it at all. And it’s much more expensive to put rail back in than to keep it in place,” says Rawlusyk. “I’m hopefuly that we can reach a successful deal with CN to keep that portion of the line open.”
    Municipalities had until October 18 to show interest in purchasing the line, and Starland and Wheatland Counties and the Town of Drumheller have shown interest in retaining the line.
    See Barrie Hoover letter Page A6.

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