Huron Central Railway
|Huron Central Railway|
HCRY train in Massey, Ontario
|Locale||Northern Ontario, Canada|
|Dates of operation||1997–Present|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Headquarters||Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario|
Huron Central Railway
The Huron Central Railway was established in July 1997 to operate a 173-mile (278 km) route leased from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The lease agreements encompass all but 4.8-mile (8 km) of track at the Sudbury end of the 181.2-mile (292 km) line, known within the CPR as the Webbwood Subdivision, as well as the 3-mile (5 km) Domtar Spur, which branches southwest from the Webbwood Sub at McKerrow. The CPR retains running rights over about 22-mile (35 km) of track at the east end of the Webbwood Subdivision, and the HCRY has running rights all the way into Sudbury. The railway operates one train in each direction six days per week between its two endpoints (westbound from Sudbury in the evening; eastbound from Sault Ste. Marie in the afternoon) plus a train, leaving Sudbury most mornings, to Espanola and return. On weekends, movements are combined.
Coil steel manufactured by Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie and freight from the Domtar paper mill at Espanola account for 80% of freight traffic, although pulpwood, chemicals used by the steel industry, slab steel, paper, and miscellaneous goods are also carried. In 2008, the railway handled 16,000 carloads a year, though carloadings have decreased in subsequent years.
The route has variable topography and typically two to four locomotives are used to haul trains varying between 25 and 50 cars in length. The line parallels Ontario Highway 17 for much of its length.
|Road Slug||EMD||802||1967||Nee B&O GP38 3813|
|GP40-2LW||EMD||3010||Mar-1976||Nee CN 9640|
|GP40-2LW||EMD||3011||Mar-1974||Nee CN 9403|
|GP40-2LW||EMD||3012||Mar-1976||Nee CN 9649|
|GP40-2LW||EMD||3013||Apr-1976||Nee CN 9646|
|GP40-3||EMD||3802||Dec-1968||Slug mother to #802; nee PC GP40 3246|
Several locomotives lettered for affiliate Quebec-Gatineau Railway also populate the roster.
The railroad had been asking the provincial government since 2006 for funding to improve track conditions, and in April 2009, Genesee & Wyoming warned that, due to the ever-deteriorating track - and the resulting increased operational costs - it would be forced to shut down the railway, unless the provincial government would provide money with which to undertake the necessary upgrades. On June 15, 2009, Genesee & Wyoming announced that the railroad's operations would be discontinued by October and that 45 people would be laid off. Due to the economic downturn, it suffered a significant reduction in carload volume - down by almost 50% from the previous year - which rendered the line insolvent.
This announcement however triggered a series of negotiations between HCRY, the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Essar Steel Algoma, and Domtar in order to keep the rail line open. A temporary agreement was reached which provided $15.9 million to cover operating expenses and maintain service until August 15, 2010.
On September 24, 2010, $33 million in funding was announced for the rehabilitation of the railway, with the provincial and federal governments each contributing $15 million and Genesee & Wyoming making up the remaining $3 million. Work began on August 10, 2011, with contracts going to Swift Contractors for tie replacement and track surfacing; and M'Anishnabek Industries - a joint venture between B&M Metals of Sudbury and Serpent River First Nation - for ballast distribution. Work continues through summer 2012.
On April 14, 2014, three locomotives and one flatcar were derailed likely due to collapsing infrastructure at mile 30 (about 3 km from Nairn Centre). There were no injuries however the spilled diesel from the locomotives required the issue of a drinking water advisory for the small community. The locomotives that derailed were QGRY 800, QGRY 3800, and HCRY 3011. QGRY 800 made it over the washout and sat upright with its rear truck off the tracks, QGRY 3800 ended up off the track and rolled onto its side, while HCRY 3011 remained upright, but sitting on its fuel tank at a 90° to the track with its rear truck hanging by the electrical cables.
- "Huron Central Railway". Genesee & Wyoming Canada Inc. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "GENESEE RAIL-ONE CHOSEN TO OPERATE SUDBURY-SAULT STE. MARIE ROUTE". CPR Press Release. 1997-05-16.
- Ian Ross, "Back on track - Government, companies open wallets to keep short-line railroad operating", Northern Ontario Business, September 2009, Vol. 29, No. 11
- Jeff Stagl (2009-04-22). "Huron Central Railway: Line closure coming if province doesn’t pony up". Progressive Railroading. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
- "Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Announces Intent to Discontinue Operations of Huron Central Railway". Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- "Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Reports Traffic for June 2009 and the Second Quarter of 2009". Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- "Genesee & Wyoming Reports Results for the Second Quarter of 2010 Aug 3, 2010 (Press release)". GWI Press Release. Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. 2010-08-03. Archived from the original on 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-04. "GWI has continued to operate HCRY under a temporary operating agreement that terminates in mid-August 2010, unless renewed by the affected parties."
- "Rehabilitation of the Huron Central Railway begins". Daily Commercial News and Construction Record. 2011-09-10. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
- "Huron Central Railway Announces Start of $33.3 Million Rehabilitation Project". Business Wire. 2011-09-10. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
- Leeson, Ben (2014-04-15). "Water advisory after train derailment near Nairn". The Sudbury Star. Retrieved 2014-04-16.
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