A closer look at the rail reg­u­la­tions

Sco­tia Rail Devel­op­ment So­ci­ety pleased process is laid out

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAURA JEAN GRANT lj­grant@cb­post.com

With new pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions in ef­fect, the path for­ward for any rail com­pany seek­ing to aban­don a rail line in Nova Sco­tia is clearer.

And with Genesee & Wy­oming, owner of the Cape Bre­ton and Cen­tral Nova Sco­tia Rail­way, in a po­si­tion to ap­ply to aban­don the Cape Bre­ton por­tion of the line as of Fri­day, we took a closer look at the new reg­u­la­tions, which of­fi­cially came into ef­fect Tues­day.

Es­sen­tially, the process to aban­don a rail­way line is com­prised of two main com­po­nents — reg­u­la­tions re­quir­ing the rail line to first be put up for sale, and reg­u­la­tions out­lin­ing aban­don­ment if there is no sale.

The first step any rail­way com­pany must take to aban­don a line is to no­tify the pro­vin­cial trans­porta­tion min­is­ter and im­pacted mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of their in­ten­tion to aban­don. Fol­low­ing a wait­ing pe­riod of at least 30 days, the com­pany must ad­ver­tise that the rail line is for sale or lease, and any­one in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing the rail line must then let the rail­way know within 30 days and a ne­go­ti­at­ing pe­riod would fol­low.

Thirty days af­ter the rail com­pany ad­ver­tises the line is for sale, it must file a state­ment with the min­is­ter that in­cludes a long list of in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing the net sal­vage value of the rail­way line (the value of the rails and steel, mi­nus ev­ery cost as­so­ci­ated with re­claim­ing and re­me­di­at­ing the rail bed) — a num­ber that Nova Sco­tia Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Ge­off MacLel­lan said Tues­day will ul­ti­mately guide the whole process.

If there are no of­fers from the pri­vate sec­tor or a deal can’t be reached, the rail com­pany must then of­fer to sell the rail line to the prov­ince and to each mu­nic­i­pal­ity the line runs through.

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 in­cludes the pro­posed date of aban­don­ment, and a state­ment as to whether they will be re­mov­ing the struc­tures and tracks on the line. If they do in­tend to, de­tails of how that work will be car­ried out must be out­lined, and con­versely, if the struc­tures and track are to re­main in place, the com­pany must sub­mit a plan for manag­ing the line and en­sur­ing pub­lic and en­vi­ron­men­tal safety.

At that point, the min­is­ter can ei­ther refuse or ap­prove aban­don­ment, or ap­prove with terms and con­di­tions. The min­is­ter must de­cide on an ap­pli­ca­tion to aban­don no later than 60 days af­ter it is re­ceived.

Greg MacLeod, co-chair of the Sco­tia Rail Devel­op­ment So­ci­ety, said Wed­nes­day he’s pleased over­all with the new reg­u­la­tions.

“From my un­der­stand­ing of it, I think the rail bed will be pro­tected be­cause the re­me­di­a­tion costs will be re­ally, re­ally high, and I think Genesee & Wy­oming will not want to take on that fi­nan­cial bur­den,” he said. “So it would be up to the prov­ince af­ter that and I’m hop­ing that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment will take own­er­ship of the rail bed and then in the fu­ture the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment can lease the rail bed to any com­pany that wants to run the rail line.”


Two train lo­co­mo­tives owned by Nova Sco­tia Power are housed in the com­pany’s Vic­to­ria Junc­tion rail­way main­te­nance shop out­side Syd­ney.


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