Farm group calls for re-opening of northeast rail line

By Nigel Maxwell
June 22, 2018 - 2:00pm

The vice-president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan said he believes the re-opening of a rail line in northeast Saskatchewan would help enhance a recently-announced major railway acquisition.

Ian Boxall, who lives in the Tisdale area, said the Tisdale rail sub-divison from Crooked River to Hudson Bay will help ensure the commercial success of the Hudson Bay Rail Line and Port of Churchill.

"It is the shortest route to get grain out of the Northeast over there, and there are benefits to producers in the Northeast as well," Boxall said.

The federal government announced in late May that a deal had been brokered to transfer ownership of the Hudson Bay Rail Line and Port of Churchill. The ownership group was said to include Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings, Regina-based pulse processor AGT Food and Ingredients, and a group known as the Missinnipi Rail Limited Partnership. The agreement also involves 30 First Nations and 11 non-First Nations communities in northern Manitoba, along with seven Kivalliq communities in western Nunavut.

“The closure of the Tisdale Subdivision requires grain from northeast Saskatchewan to travel hundreds of kilometers further than necessary to reach the rail head at the Pas, Manitoba,” Boxall explained. “Once the port reopens for grain shipments, we are concerned that these additional freight costs will continue to undermine Churchill’s commercial potential.”.

APAS President Todd Lewis was in Ottawa this week and hoped to get some answers from CN. He said he has also written several letters to CN management, stressing the importance of the Tisdale rail line.

CN recently announced a record $3.4 billion capital program. Spokesperson Kate Fenske told farmnewsNOW they are focused on investments in their main corridors as well as railway locomotives and other equipment.

"There are no planned investments in the Tisdale corridor," she said.


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