Public Values

Rail closure would help dismantle national dream

Canadian Pacific Railway to shut historic line from Smiths Falls to Sudbury.

Rail closure would help dismantle national dreamSMITHS FALLS, ON: An active and historic part of Canada's national railway system appears to be about to be abandoned, as EMC news recently reported:

The 310-mile line from Smiths Falls to Sudbury owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway is the last east-west alternative for cross-country trains to bypass Toronto. Now (that the private sector is out of the bidding) various levels of government are given 30 days to submit expressions of interest to purchase the remainder of the line at net salvage value, which is estimated to be some $90 million.

"First up was the federal government. Their deadline was November 5. Next is the Province of Ontario – until December 6. Then OC Transpo has the option until January 5, followed by municipal governments until February 4. If there are no takers, CP has the green light to dismantle the line, sell the steel and potentially remove the trestles," Al Lunney, Mayor of Mississippi Mills wrote for EMC News on November 11.

"Consider some of the potential national security and public safety issues that exist if this section of rail is dismantled. One of Canada's most important military bases – CFB Petawawa – uses this line regularly, and in the event of a national or international crisis requiring the quick mobilization of the base's heavy equipment, the train will no longer be an option.

"Base Commander Lt. Col. W.K. Rudderham has indicated in local newspapers that the loss of this line will increase costs for the base and will make operations more difficult and time consuming to organize. It will impair long-distance military exercises requiring the transport of heavy equipment, meaning some of the 40-tonne tanks will now have to be loaded onto trucks and transported along provincial highways and municipal roads to Smiths Falls in order to access the main line and then shipping ports in Montreal and the east coast," Mayor Lunney wrote.

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Posted: November 17, 2010

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