Manitoba chips in to salvage rail link

WINNIPEG — A short-line freight railway line in southern Manitoba is getting a $615,000 boost from the provincial government to help ship grain and other regional commodities.

The Boundary Trails Railway Company (BTRC) — a consortium of producers, community and business leaders in the Manitou region — will establish the short-line freight railway between Manitou and Morden.

“Maintaining this short-line railway will help support shipments of grain and other commodities in the area,” said Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk, in a news release. “In addition, short-line railways help reduce greenhouse gases and help reduce infrastructure costs by reducing road and highway traffic, as grain destined for producer cars needs only to be trucked to the local short line, as opposed to longer hauls to mainline elevators.”

The trip between Morden and Manitou spans about 35 km. The total purchase price for the entire line from Manitou to just east of Killarney, a distance of about 140 km, has been funded through producer-raised equity and private loans.

BTRC intends to operate the track running between Manitou and Morden and salvage the portion of line from Killarney to Manitou, added the minister.

Wowchuk also noted the provincial funding is in the form of a forgivable loan, but with the condition that BTRC repay all provincial funding if the railway is sold in whole or in part.

“BTRC will be the first short line in Manitoba owned primarily by producers and we appreciate the support the province has shown with this financial contribution,” said Kevin Friesen, president of BTRC. “It has been encouraging to see local producers band together to raise the equity needed to purchase the line. The directors of BTRC are optimistic that local producers will see the benefits available to them from using the short line. We already have many orders from producers for cars to be delivered later in May.”

The short-line freight railway will offer freight and producer-car services for the region’s grain farmers and businesses. BTRC has contracted with Central Canadian Railway to provide car hauler, maintenance services, links with major railroads on traffic and delivery issues, snow clearing and basic administrative services.

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