Rail aban­don­ment reg­u­la­tions take ef­fect

Com­pany will be re­quired to de­ter­mine net sal­vage value


Three days be­fore Genesee & Wy­oming can ap­ply to aban­don the rail line in Cape Bre­ton, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has put in place a “rig­or­ous” set of reg­u­la­tions the rail­way op­er­a­tor must fol­low in that process.

Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Ge­off MacLel­lan said the reg­u­la­tions are wide- rang­ing and deal with all as­pects of the aban­don­ment process. One of the most sig­nif­i­cant con­di­tions, ac­cord­ing to MacLel­lan, is a re­quire­ment for the com­pany to de­ter­mine the net sal­vage value of the rail line.

“Once they give us the sig­nal that they’re ap­ply­ing for aban­don­ment, they must pro­vide the net sal­vage value of the rail line, which is the value of the as­set — the rails, the steel — mi­nus ev­ery cost as­so­ci­ated with re­claim­ing and re­me­di­at­ing the en­tire rail bed, so that’s ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing the rail bed, the cor­ri­dor, struc­tures, any­thing to deal with cross­ings, prop­erty, en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact,” he said. “So to get to that net sal­vage value, there’s a tremen­dous amount of work that they’re go­ing to have to put to­gether.”

MacLel­lan said one of the goals of that par­tic­u­lar reg­u­la­tion is to pro­tect Nova Sco­tia tax­pay­ers from be­ing sad­dled with a pos­si­ble clean-up bill.

The net sal­vage value fig­ure will be re­quired early on in the process, ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter.

“It ul­ti­mately de­cides what the over­all value, and there­fore the sale price, is for the line, so it’s re­ally a crit­i­cal piece of in­for­ma­tion that re­ally de­ter­mines what hap­pens next,” he said.

Genesee & Wy­oming, owner of the Cape Bre­ton and Cen­tral Nova Sco­tia Rail­way, will be in a po­si­tion to ap­ply to aban­don the Cape Bre­ton por­tion of the line as of Fri­day. If it does so, the rail­way must give 30 days no­tice, at that point, of its in­tent to aban­don.

From there, the reg­u­la­tions re­quire the rail­way to of­fer the line for sale to pri­vate sec­tor in­ter­ests. Any­one in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing the rail line must then let the rail­way know within 30 days and there would be a six­month ne­go­ti­at­ing pe­riod. If there are no of­fers, the prov­ince and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can then make an of­fer. If gov­ern­ment is not in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing the rail line, the com­pany can then ap­ply to aban­don the rail line and must sub­mit an aban­don­ment plan to the min­is­ter that de­scribes the work that will be done to re­move the track, who is do­ing the work, and de­tails of in­surance cov­er­age.

“If we go through the sale process por­tion of the reg­u­la­tions and a buyer doesn’t come for­ward, that ob­vi­ously sets in mo­tion the aban­don­ment re­quire­ments them­selves, but there’s a lot of work to do and a lot of con­ver­sa­tions and a lot of anal­y­sis by the com­pany and by other stake­hold­ers to see if we’re ever go­ing to get to that point,” said MacLel­lan.

The rail­way aban­don­ment reg­u­la­tions, which of­fi­cially took ef­fect Tues­day, ad­dress a num­ber of other is­sues, in­clud­ing ac­cess for landown­ers if the rail line is sold, li­a­bil­ity in­surance re­quire­ments for the com­pany, and en­vi­ron­men­tal-re­lated con­cerns, in­clud­ing plans for re­me­di­a­tion if nec­es­sary.

De­tails of the new reg­u­la­tions will be posted on­line by the depart­ment this week.


New rules for aban­don­ing railways in Nova Sco­tia are now in ef­fect. Genesee & Wy­oming, owner of the Cape Bre­ton and Cen­tral Nova Sco­tia Rail­way, has in­di­cated it in­tends to aban­don the Cape Bre­ton por­tion of the rail­way once it is in a po­si­tion to do so, be­gin­ning Fri­day.


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