Monday, August 17, 2009

Huron Central bosses ratify one-year deal to save local line

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Directors of Genesee and Wyoming Inc., parent company of Huron Central Railway, have agreed to a tentative deal that will keep the local railroad operating until August 14, 2010, SooToday.com reports. Sault Ste. Marie Mayor John Rowswell tells SooToday.com that he has received confirmation of the ratification.

 

Mayor Rowswell will be in Ottawa next week for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference and he plans to arrive early for breakfast and an "official congratulatory handshake" with Mario Brault, president and CEO of Huron Central.

 

Genesee & Wyoming had said earlier this year that it would halt operations between Sault Ste. Marie and McKerrow tomorrow, and from Sudbury to Espanola on October 31. The Huron Central tracks and right of way are owned by CP Rail, which has indicated it will seek permission to abandon the line if no operator can be found.

 

A news release issued by the City of Sault Ste. Marie indicates that over the next year, "the parties will work towards the execution of a final agreement that will crystallize the continued operation of the rail line through to August 14, 2010. All parties will focus efforts on a long term solution to ensure the permanent sustainability of this rail line."

 

According to figures released today by Genesee and Wyoming, Huron Central's traffic volume was 824 total carloads last month, compared to 1,308 in July 2008.

 

Last night, Sault Ste. Marie City Council authorized spending up to $250,000 of economic development funds to implement short-term actions to save the Huron Central line.

 

Joe Fratesi, the City's chief administrative officer, expressed optimism that the needed infrastructure cash will be forthcoming.

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