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CN to acquire another northern Alberta short line

While awaiting Surface Transportation Board approval for its Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. acquisition, Canadian National Railway Co. has swung another deal. On Monday, the Class I announced a transaction under which CN will acquire the Athabasca Northern Railway Ltd. (ANY) for $25 million from Cando Contracting Ltd. pending long-term traffic guarantees from shippers Suncor Energy Inc., OPTI Canada Inc. and Nexen Inc.

CN would spend $135 million during the next three years to upgrade the 202-mile short line to facilitate northbound volumes of construction material and machinery shipments to support oil sands development in the Alberta Industrial Heartland near Edmonton — one of the world's largest construction projects, according to CN. ANY, which interchanges with the Class I in Boyle, Alberta, also would provide CN access to existing and potential southbound sulphur, petroleum coke and other markets.

"CN's investment and partnership agreements with key shippers will allow the parties to maintain important rail service to Lynton, Alberta, a point near Fort McMurray, home of existing and future oil sands development," said CN President and Chief Executive Officer E. Hunter Harrison in a prepared statement. "While ANY's current traffic volumes are too low to keep it going as a stand-alone operation, we and our shipper partners see the ANY playing a critical role in [the oil sands] project."

CN already has acquired three northern Alberta short lines. Last year, the Class I purchased the Mackenzie Northern, Lakeland & Waterways and Savage Alberta railways.

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More News from 12/26/2007