Northeast short lines receive funding for infrastructure

Photo courtesy of the Government of Saskatchewan. According to the WCSLRA, approximately 20 per cent of rail carloads leaving Canada originated on a short line railway.

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

NORTHEAST – Government has provided $530,000 in provincial short line rail investments and the northeast will benefit from funding.

Under the Government of Saskatchewan’s Short Line Railway Improvement Program, funding will assist with track upgrades and expansion, improved crossing surfaces and sightlines, bridge maintenance, track rehabilitations and other projects.

SRIP allocations for 2024-25 and their operating locations in the northeast:

  • Thunder Rail (Arborfield area) $25,000;
  • Torch River Rail (Nipawin to Choiceland area) $25,000;
  • Wheatland Rail (Cudworth, Wakaw area) $25,000;
  • Northern Lights Rail (west of Melfort) $25,000.
  • Other locations:
  • Big Sky Rail, Delisle (Eston, Elrose region) $87,035;
  • Carlton Trail Railway (Saskatoon to Prince Albert area) $37,515;
  • Great Sandhills Railway (Swift Current to Leader area) $43,089;
  • Great Western Railway (Assiniboia, Shaunavon, Coronach area) $129,909;
  • Last Mountain Railway (Regina to Davidson) $29,155;
  • Long Creek Railroad (west of Estevan) $25,000;
  • Northern Lights Rail (west of Melfort) $25,000;
  • Red Coat Road and Rail (Ogema area) $25,000;
  • Southern Rails Cooperative (south of Moose Jaw) $25,000; 
  • Stewart Southern Railway (southwest of Regina to Stoughton) $28,297.

“By investing in continuous improvements to our tracks, Saskatchewan short line railways ensure that rail is a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation option for agricultural producers, industrial facilities, and Saskatchewan businesses of all sizes,” Western Canadian Short Line Railway Association President Andrew Glastetter said.

According to the WCSLRA, approximately 20 per cent of rail carloads leaving Canada originated on a short line railway, including agricultural products, fuels and chemicals. Short lines operate 24.3 per cent of all rail miles in Saskatchewan. Short line railways provide rail service to 18 per cent of urban municipalities and 26 per cent of rural municipalities across the province. 

Minister of Highways, Lori Carr, announced $530,000 in provincial short-line rail funding.

“Short line railways play an important role in getting Saskatchewan’s food, fuel and fertilizer on their journeys to worldwide markets, which helps keep our export-based economy strong to sustain our quality of life,” Carr said. “We are proud to invest in this transportation sector as it is essential to keeping our great and growing province strong.”

The government’s release stated, “Many short line railways are community-owned, and serve rural communities, while also playing a vital role in the overall supply chain. Short line railways positively impact highway infrastructure, the environment, and rural economies, while transporting freight on infrastructure that is primarily maintained and funded privately.

“The Western Canadian Short Line Railway Association expresses our appreciation to the Government of Saskatchewan for their renewed funding of the Short Line Railway Improvement Program and for their support of the short line railway industry and rail access opportunities for businesses across Saskatchewan.”

Provincial grants provide up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs and are determined based on how much track each short line owns. Networks with less than 80 kilometres of track receive at least $25,000. Larger networks receive a proportional amount based on how much track they operate.

Saskatchewan has 13 short line railways operating on 2,123 kilometres of track.