Freight line threatening to close without government help
Published Tuesday, May 22, 2018 2:11PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 22, 2018 6:12PM EDT
The Huron Central Railway, which runs freight between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, is once again pleading for more financial help from the government.
And Tuesday, the company announced it plans to shut down the line if more government assistance is not provided.
Huron Central Railway says the tracks could be clear for good if it doesn't receive millions of dollars for maintenance to the line between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury.
Northern New Democratic Party representatives say giving that financial help would be less than what it would cost to repair area highways if trains were cancelled and freight was moved by truck.
Michael Mantha is the NDP candidate for the Algoma-Manitoulin riding.
"We're talking about taking 30,000 transports off of our roads. Transports that are going to be carrying heavy equipment and dangerous goods, which mean safer roads. It is the focus of why we need to keep these short rails open." said Mantha.
Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan says he's met personally with the transport minister to advocate on the importance of rail in Northern Ontario, but he says the Huron Central Railway has to get 50% of the funding in place before Ottawa can help.
"We discussed funding options the company could pursue, including self-funding all or a portion of its share, the province of Ontario, and other private/public sector funding." said Sheehan.
The railway did receive federal and provincial money back in 2010 to keep the line operational until 2015, but says it needs more. Saying that without government help, it will have to shut down the line, which could have an impact on area jobs and companies.
Michele McCleave-Kennedy is the NDP candidate for Sault Ste. Marie.
"Obviously we need to keep good paying jobs here in Sault Ste. Marie. And so without having Huron Central moving steel, Algoma steel, down to its market, that's going to impact 7,000 spin-off jobs here in Sault Ste. Marie. So, we need to have the availability of the railway." said McCleave-Kennedy.
The rail company and the local politicians say major companies like Algoma, Domtar in Espanola, Eacom in Nairn Centre are just a few that could be directly affected if the rail line has to shut down.