Effort to save the Huron Central Railway continues
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2018 7:21PM EDT
An effort to save the Huron Central Railway and its freight shipping corridor between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie continues.
The railway announced it will have to close down by the end of 2018.
A task force looking into how to save the rail line offered an update Wednesday to businesses, communities, and First Nations.
Huron Central Railway says it needs $42-million to keep its northern route operational.
If the company can secure five years of funding, its president, Louis Gravel, says it will operate the line for a decade.
A similar deal was struck in 2010.
"By removing trucks from the road, a number of accidents, and also just the maintenance, the additional maintenance that you have to put on the road. There was an independent study, showed that we were able to save $48-million. So, we think we can replicate that." said Gravel.
The company and members of the Huron Central Railway task force say shutting the line down would lead to 40,000 more transports on area highways, which would lead to increased repair costs and pollution in the north.
The group is feeling confident that it can secure the proper funding.
Joe Fratesi is a member of the Huron Central Railway Task Force.
"Having a rail in your region, even if you're not using it, gives you an option in terms of development of your area, in terms of transportation of goods to and from your community. So, yeah it's not just the Sault and Sudbury, it's everything in between." said Fratesi.
The line is the lifeblood for a number of communities along Highway 17.
Domtar's Pulp and Paper Mill in Espanola relies heavily on the service. Representatives say it would be crushing to the town.
Bill Foster is the Deputy Mayor of Espanola.
"Well, if the rail line shuts down it probably affects the viability of our mill operation. Many of the people who work at the mill are from surrounding communities and it would have a huge economic impact." said Foster.
The task force will present its case to the provincial government next month at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Conference in Ottawa.
While in the nation’s capital, officials say they hope to meet with federal representatives as well.