Rail moves

Thumbs up on aban­don­ment reg­u­la­tions

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

Score one for the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. Tasked with draw­ing up clearly de­fined reg­u­la­tions be­fore a pro­vin­cial rail­way op­er­a­tor can aban­don a rail line, it de­liv­ered on Tues­day.

Draw your own con­clu­sion as to whether it smacks of a nicely timed shot across

Genesee & Wy­oming (G&W) Inc.’s bow. They are the own­ers of the Cape Bre­ton and Cen­tral Nova Sco­tia Rail­way, which will be in a po­si­tion to ap­ply to aban­don the por­tion of the line be­tween St. Peter’s and Syd­ney on Fri­day.

Not that G&W wouldn’t have been ex­pect­ing this move. It’s part of a dance. One in which it tested out this mar­ket­place, af­ter buy­ing the line from Rail-Amer­ica in 2012, and de­ter­mined fairly quickly it wasn’t go­ing to make a buck any­time soon.

Hence, its de­ci­sion to ap­ply for aban­don­ment of the line in late 2014.

But be­fore it can do so, a num­ber of key is­sues have to be ad­dressed in­clud­ing:

– no­ti­fi­ca­tion that re­quires G&W to no­tify the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and the pub­lic of­fer­ing the line for sale to a per­son, rail­way com­pany, prov­ince or mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

– how the sale price of the rail­way was de­ter­mined.

– ac­cess if the rail line is sold to an­other rail­way com­pany by es­tab­lish­ing a way for con­tin­ued man­age­ment of rail cross­ings so ad­ja­cent landown­ers have ac­cess.

– re­moval where there is no in­ter­est by an­other party to ob­tain the rail­way line.

– any­one in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing the rail line must let the rail­way know within 30 days of the ad­ver­tise­ment that out­lines the rail­way’s in­ten­tion to aban­don the line.

– if there are no of­fers from an in­ter­ested per­son or com­pany, or they are un­able to ne­go­ti­ate an agree­ment, the prov­ince and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can make an of­fer.

– If there is no one in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing the rail line, in­clud­ing the prov­ince and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, then the rail­way can ap­ply to aban­don the rail line.

– the rail­way must sub­mit an aban­don­ment plan to the min­is­ter.

– the plan must de­scribe the work that will be done to re­move the track, who is do­ing the work, and make sure there is in­surance cov­er­age. If needed, the min­is­ter can force the rail­way to meet ad­di­tional re­quire­ments to pro­tect the pub­lic.

Bot­tom line? Genesee & Wy­oming, whose head of­fice is based in Darien, Con­necti­cut, has a lot of work to do be­fore it can walk away. Work that may well far ex­ceed a fair price tag for the line.

Will the reg­u­la­tions re­sult in the com­pany putting the rail line up for sale at a bar­gain price? Will any pri­vate com­pa­nies weigh in and make an of­fer? If they don’t, would the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties com­bine their lim­ited re­sources to make an of­fer, hop­ing that it will pay off some day should a con­tainer ter­mi­nal ever get built? Or will Genesee & Wy­oming bide its time, hop­ing to cash in on the same op­por­tu­nity? Maybe it even paints the gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions as un­fair and takes le­gal ac­tion?

The dance con­tin­ues.

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