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Group looking to buy Port of Churchill Rail Line

Posted by Flaman Agriculture Dec 21, 2015

19 Dec 2015
The Canadian Press
First Nations group looking to buy rail line
A troubled rail line and port in northern Manitoba may be sold to a group of First Nations communities in the area.
Denver-based OmniTrax says it has accepted a letter of intent from the group over the sale of the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay rail line.
The company says there’s a 45day period of due diligence before a sale can be completed, and the federal and provincial governments will be asked to support the group buying the assets. OmniTrax took over the rail line and port in 1997.
Churchill is Canada’s only deepwater northern port and relies heavily on grain shipments from western farmers.
Those grain shipments were less than half the normal 500,000 tonnes this year, which prompted OmniTrax to look for a new owner.
Earlier this month, the Manitoba government said it was looking for federal help to ensure the continued operation of the northern line. Manitoba Transportation Minister Steve Ashton met with federal counterpart Marc Garneau in Ottawa.
The line is the only land link to Churchill and three other communities from the south.
Omnitrax Canada president Merv Tweed indicated that service could be discontinued if no new buyer were found. He also suggested governments could have the railway operate as a utility, presumably with regulation of rates and some form of subsidy in poor years.
Ashton suggested the long-term survival of the port and railway could depend on expanding port storage facilities to handle potash and other goods.
The northern rail line, which crosses hundreds of kilometres of bog and permafrost, has been plagued by derailments that have intermittently forced the suspension of both freight and passenger services.
OmniTrax had thought of shipping crude oil along the railway, but backed off the plan last year.
The proposal was opposed by First Nations groups, environmentalists and the government of Manitoba.
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Grain transportation review recommendations

Posted by Flaman Agriculture Jul 20, 2015

Ag Canada is reporting that . . . .

Winnipeg — Ongoing assessment of the grain transportation system and better protection for small shippers are two of the eight recommendations made by the Crop Logistics Working Group (CLWG). They will now be submitted to the Canada Transportation Act Review for consideration.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was in Winnipeg Monday to announce the findings of the group’s final report, which he said “provides recommendations for improving the crop logistics system, including comprehensive input into the review underway.”

Greater transparency in the rail market was another recommendation made by the working group, which was composed of 18 stakeholder groups representing growers, handlers and millers.

“I think the biggest thing,” said Ritz. “Would be the data that railways aren’t sharing with shippers. They measure on what they supply, when it comes to cars, not what the market is actually asking them to deliver. There is a double standard there — they say their commitment is to supplying the cars they’re going to supply, not what’s actually asked of them.”

Full story at http://www.agcanada.com/daily/transportation-review-recommendations

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