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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

RAC calls on Canadian government to boost short-line funding

The association urged for the increase in funding after the Huron Central Railway announced plans to halt operations.
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Shortly after Huron Central Railway's (HCRY) announcement that it will cease operations by year's end, the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) on Tuesday called on the Canadian government to establish programs to help short lines invest in their infrastructure.

Earlier this week, HCRY owner Genesee & Wyoming Canada Inc. cited a "lack of necessary provincial funding" among its reasons for shuttering the 176-mile short line, which runs between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, Ontario.

RAC officials expressed "profound discontent" at the lack of capital funding programs for short lines. They also noted that a recent Canadian federal government report had recommended the creation of a federal-provincial program to support short-line infrastructure investments through contributions, grants or low-cost, long-term financing.

"Despite similar studies and reports recognizing the lack of public funding for local and regional railways — or short lines — governments have not created programs to help these companies capitalize on growth opportunities and meet evolving rail safety regulatory requirements," said RAC Acting President Gerald Gauthier in a statement. "This type of program might have prevented the discontinuance of Huron Central Railway."

Canada's more than 50 short lines provide first- and last-mile service to customers not served directly by Class Is, RAC officials noted, adding that the small railroads compete directly with the trucking sector, which has access to publicly funded infrastructure.

RAC has long advocated for governments to "level the playing field" with investments in short-line infrastructure.

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More News from 5/24/2018