News & Reviews News Wire Nova Scotia government ends subsidy for dormant portion of short line

Nova Scotia government ends subsidy for dormant portion of short line

By Trains Staff | April 5, 2024

Move comes after CN acquires stake in Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway

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Map of railroad in Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia government has ended its subsidy for the inactive portion of the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway, shown in gray. Genesee & Wyoming

CAPE BRETON, Nova Scotia — The government of Nova Scotia has ended a subsidy for a dormant section of short line in the province because it sees no chance the line will be restored to operation any time soon, the CBC reports.

The move regarding the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway comes after Canadian National bought a stake in the Genesee & Wyoming line last year [see
“CN acquires stake …,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 2, 2023]. Provincial Economic Development Minister Susan Corkum-Green said it could cost up to $500 million to repair the inactive portion of the line, and that when she spoke with CN officials, they indicated they were looking to invest elsewhere.

“I feel comfortable to say that there is no evidence of an imminent investment on the scale that would be required,” Corkum-Greek said Thursday.

The provincial government had paid G&W a $30,000-a-month subsidy for the last three years to keep the line in place because of a proposal to develop an intermodal terminal at the Sydney, N.S., harbor [see “Digest: MBTA extends shutdown …,” News Wire, March 26, 2021]. That project has yet to advance. Overall, the province has provided more than $18 million in subsidies over 20 years.

Cape Breton Regional Municipal Mayor Amanda McDougall told the CBC she was concerned about the end of the subside.

“Rail is such an integral part to growing our island, to growing the economy,” she said. “Even if it was symbolic at times, that subsidy meant that there was still hope and investment in what was to be our future growth.”

7 thoughts on “Nova Scotia government ends subsidy for dormant portion of short line

  1. There was also a steel mill in Sydney that closed in 2001.
    It received its coal from Nova Scotia and iron ore from Labrador.
    The tourism industry is about the only thing that keeps Cape Breton going.

    1. They converted the old Sydney Steel to electric arc furnace melting, the problem was an insufficient supply of scrap locally to feed the furnace and shipping in scrap was cost prohibitive. A rail mill was planned but never installed.
      Steel Dynamics in Columbia City Indiana purchased the brand new state of the art still in the crates rail rolling mill when the mill shut down. This rolling mill bought by the taxpayers of Canada is now happily doing its job for SDI suppling the North American railroads with quality rail.
      SDI installed an on site a ribbon rail plant to flash butt the rail into 1/4 mile lengths.

    2. P.S. SDI purchased the rolling mill for pennies on the pound, was a real good deal.

  2. Apparently at one time, according to online maps, the CB&CNS Rwy connected, supplied, and interchanged to the Sidney & Louisburg RWY coal hauler at Sidney that went defunct in the early 80s. The S&L Rwy was the last Canadian common carrier to run steam engines to about 1969. Some had said that the L&S Rwy might have survived had they not invested in diesels, but rather had relied on their own natural resources of coal for fuel. But I suppose that would have just postponed the inevitable for the L&S Rwy.

  3. This is an example of broken rail policy in North America. This piece of railroad may not be economically viable today, though that is highly debatable, but it may be essential in the future but will be impossible to replicate then. The public interest needs to take precedence over short term, private gain.

    1. If my memory is correct, the mines being shut down led to the collapse of the railroad operation. They tried to have a tourist operation for awhile but it didn’t last.
      I suspect the willingness for an intermodal terminal isn’t there because of the Halifax area.

      I knew a businessman from Sydney some years ago. He would fly commuter plane from & back Sydney/Halifax and occasionally be the only passenger on it. He never experienced that flight when it was more than half-occupied. That’s an indication that there might not be that much going on commercially in that northern area of Nova Scotia.

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