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5/16/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

British Columbia begins private-operator search for BC Rail


On May 15, British Columbia announced plans to seek a private investor to assume control of BC Rail Ltd.'s operations and management. The 1,400-mile regional's rail beds, rights of way and track would remain provincially owned.


"Northern communities have clearly told us that changes are needed to improve services, restore BC Rail’s competitiveness and generate new investments in a way that’s sustainable for taxpayers," said Transportation Minister Judith Reid in a prepared statement. "The new model … will revitalize services, provide new opportunities for rail-dependent
customers and communities, and support economic growth for our province."


British Columbia immediately issued a request for proposals to solicit qualified investors for a public/private partnership. Proposals must detail plans on sustaining BC Rail's infrastructure and competitiveness, and generating traffic-growth opportunities.


The RFP most likely will draw interest from Canadian National Railway Co., Canadian Pacific Railway, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and OmniTRAX Inc., which previously voiced interest in acquiring BC Rail.


By early summer, the province plans to issue a short list of qualified private operators. An evaluation committee then will review proposals and recommend an operator by late summer. British Columbia expects to reach a final public/private agreement by year end.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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