Feds announce multi-million dollar investment for two Saskatchewan railway projects

The federal government has announced a $12.4-million investment for two railway infrastructure projects in Saskatchewan.

The first will upgrade the Great Sandhills Railway short line that runs from Burstall, Sask. to Swift Current. The second involves the construction of three loop tracks and a repair shop in Unity, Sask., which will service the corridor that runs between Edmonton and Saskatoon.

The two projects will create an estimated 300 jobs.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale said the two projects would improve railway capacity, reduce bottlenecks and increase competition.

“I am pleased that this important project is going ahead,” Goodale said in a media release issued on Monday. “Transportation and distribution of goods are a vital part of our local, regional and national economies. These improvements will increase transportation options for the community, help businesses get more products to market and create quality jobs.”

SUBHEADLINE: WCSLRA president welcomes short line investment

There are more than 50 short line railways across the country, 18 of which are in Western Canada.

Perry Pellerin, the president of the Western Canadian Short Line Railway Association (WCSLRA) and CEO of the Great Sandhills Railway, said there’s a huge need for repairs and upgrades. He’s thrilled to see those upgrades coming, and he’s hopeful more are on the way.

“We’re a long way from being where we need to be, but at least we feel we have a good first step,” Pellerin said on Monday. “We are really pleased. We think our message is really getting through, especially to the federal government, on the need to help short lines.”

The investment in the Great Sandills Railway will make transporting goods safer and more efficient, Pellerin added. He also said it would make it easier to attract additional investment and new customers.

“I just think that hopefully this is the beginning of a long-term funding program that will bring all the short lines into the shape that they need to be brought into, so that we can continue to deliver service and reliability to all our customers,” he explained.

The WCSLRA is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization representing the interests of 17 short line railways across Western Canada.

Short line railways provide service to customers not directly served by Class I railways by moving traffic to and from the main lines. More than $20-billion worth of freight is transported over short line railways every year in Canada.