‘No further action’ on rail relocation possible: Saskatoon administration

The latest report from the City of Saskatoon says the project to move rail lines can't go ahead without CP and CN agreeing to work with the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Stephen C. Host

Saskatoon city council’s hopes of moving rail lines may finally be dead.

A report from city administration, submitted to the transportation committee on Tuesday, stated “no further action on rail relocation is possible at this time until either or both railway companies express a desire to further develop either the shared corridor or relocation concept.”

The report is a response to what was likely the last — and most radical — option to have Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) or Canadian National (CN) either share train tracks in the city or move all tracks outside of Saskatoon.

Read more: Saskatoon city hall looks at forcing rail lines to move

In January Coun. Darren Hill tasked the administration with exploring part of the National Transportation Act 1987, a federal document.

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Jay Magus, the city’s director of transportation, told council at the time that it amounted to a clause wherein the federal government could force rail companies to move their rail lines.

The new report stated the federal government had repealed the 1987 act and referenced the 1996 replacement legislation instead.

The far less intimidating clauses state that a municipal government can apply to the federal Canadian Transportation Agency to order train companies to share rail lines.

Read more: Railways say Saskatoon’s plans to move train lines won’t work

The report also said the legislation doesn’t specify which party would pay any additional costs associated with interswitching (the technical term for sharing lines and rail services), but assumes it would be the applicant — in this case, the City of Saskatoon.

That would mean the city would pay the fees set by Canadian Pacific if, for example, a Canadian National train were to use the former’s lines.

The document concludes by stating “(n)o further reporting or follow-up is planned for the Rail Relocation versus Grade Separation Study at this time.”

Read more: Saskatoon city hall to examine railway crossings that could cost $93M

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Saskatoon has been struggling for years to move the train lines, several of which cut through the city and frequently hold up traffic.

The city had previously written to both companies to ask if they could share or move the rail lines.

The companies responded by saying both options were fundamentally unworkable and not feasible.

Council has since voted to assign plans for three rail overpasses, at Preston Avenue, 11th Street West and Marquis Drive, to a priority infrastructure list for future funding.

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