2 short rail lines in Saskatchewan slated for upgrades

Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives are shuffled around a marshalling yard in Calgary on May 16, 2012. Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

A railway association is applauding a move by the federal government to fund improvements to two short line railways in Saskatchewan.

The government said Aug. 9 it will provide $12.4 million in funding for the projects planned by Great Sandhills Railway.

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The first project will see an upgrade to the track running from Burstall to the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline near Swift Current, government officials said.

The upgrade will allow the number of trips on the line to increase from twice a week to once daily, allowing customers to better use the line to move product for export, and accommodate future growth.

The second upgrade is to add three loop tracks and a repair shop at the North West Terminal outside of Unity.

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Officials said this will to ease congestion on the main Canadian National and Canadian Pacific lines between Saskatoon and Edmonton, by improving flow and the performance of the transportation network in the area.

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The Western Canadian Short Line Railway Association (WCSLRA) said not only will the upgrades improve access to foreign markets, but it will also make the locations more appealing for future investments.

“We are thrilled to see that the federal government recognizes the critical role that short line railways play in Canada’s export system,” said WCSLRA president Perry Pellerin.

“The total investment in these communities totals over $25 million and will accelerate local economies for decades to come.”

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Regina MP Ralph Goodale said the transportation and distribution of goods are important to the economy in announcing the funding.

“These improvements will increase transportation options for the community, help businesses get more products to market, and create quality jobs,” Goodale said in a statement.

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Federal officials said upwards of 300 jobs will be created in the region during construction.

A construction timeline and completion date were not released.

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