Company drops plan to end operation of Huron Central Railway
SUDBURY -- The company that owns the Huron Central Railway said Wednesday it is no longer planning to shut the railway down permanently.
Genesee & Wyoming Canada said in August 2020 it needed about $40 million to meet the required maintenance demands on its line between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. Without support, the company said it would cease operations in December of that year. The company leases the line from Canadian Pacific Railway.
But after talks with the province and the federal government, the deadline was extended to June 30 of this year. In a news release, the company said those talks have progressed to the point the railway is no longer in danger of closing.
"Genesee & Wyoming Canada confirmed that it has suspended plans to terminate the operation of the Huron Central Railway following its work with both the Ontario and federal governments and expected commitments from customers in support of the railroad’s long-term viability," the company said in the release.
Rick McLellan, president of Genesee & Wyoming Canada, said in the release they are pleased with the talks with government.
“I want to thank Minister (Greg) Rickford, Minister (Caroline) Mulroney, Minister (Ross) Romano and the Government of Ontario for their diligence and attention to this important railway,” McLellan said.
The recent federal budget included the renewal of the National Trade Corridors Fund, delivered through Transport Canada. Genesee & Wyoming Canada has received confirmation that the intention for the renewed program criteria would remove barriers that had previously prevented short line railways from eligibility.
“We applaud the Government of Canada for listening to the concerns of stakeholders, in particular the short line rail sector and the natural resources and other industries that depend on Canada’s regional transportation corridors,” McLellan said. “Renewing the National Trade Corridors Fund with more inclusive program eligibility will be critical for our sector and the communities we support. The large employers served by (Huron Central) across northern Ontario can be encouraged that this federal funding program will soon be available for project application."
Genesee & Wyoming will continue to work with both levels of government to secure the necessary infrastructure investments to sustain the rail line's operations and the jobs of its 43 local workers.
"All three parties are working together to ensure that (Huron Central’s) customers who depend on this line – major employers in northern Ontario’s natural resource economy – avoid a serious near-term disruption to their supply chains," the release said.
"Customer commitments to ship on the refurbished rail line will be an integral part of any final infrastructure investment plan."