Huron Central Railway

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Huron Central Railway
Huron Central Railway
HCRY train in Massey, Ontario
HCRY train in Massey, Ontario
Reporting mark HCRY
Locale Northern Ontario, Canada
Dates of operation 1997 (1997)–Present
Predecessor Canadian Pacific Railway
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 173 miles (278 km)
Headquarters Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Huron Central Railway
Webbwood Subdivision
CN Soo Sub
179.3 Sault Ste. Marie Ont.
Shell Sault Ste. Marie Terminal spur
Garden River
170.7 Garden
Echo Bay
164.3 Ekoba
Hwy 17
161.0 Bar River
158.1 Isbester
151.2 Desbarats
149.4 Potlock
143.0 Bruce
135.0 Nestorville
133.2 Sherwood
Hwy 17
130.8 Thessalon
126.7 Livingston
121.9 Dayton
112.8 Dean Lake
Mississagi River
Blind River
102.4 Blind River
95.1 Algoma
87.4 Spragge
83.4 Serpent
Serpent River
Serpent River quarry spur
78.3 Kenabutch
77.4 Cutler
71.6 Spanish
66.3 Walford
Hwy 17
Swift Railroad Contractors spur
58.4 Massey
Hwy 17
former CPR Little Current Sub
48.3 Webbwood
Spanish River
41.9 McKerrow wye to Little Current Spur
Spanish River
Hwy 17
Eacom Lumber Mill spur
32.6 Nairn
28.3 Turbine
25.1 Worthington
21.9 Victoria Mine
Hwy 17
18.3 Whitefish
Vermilion River
11.1 Naughton
Hwy 17 Overpass
R.R. 55 (Old Hwy 17) Overpass
4.8 MP 4.8
4.5 Copper Cliff
Vale Industrial Railway
2.1 Creosote
0.0 Sudbury CPR Cartier Sub

Huron Central Railway (reporting mark HCRY) is a Canadian railway operating in northern Ontario, operated by Genesee & Wyoming Canada Inc., the Canadian subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc.

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.[1] 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.[2] 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,[3] 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,[4] 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.

Locomotive Roster[edit]

Model Maker Numbers Build Date Remarks
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; née PC GP40 3246

Several locomotives lettered for affiliate Quebec-Gatineau Railway also populate the roster.

Discontinuing operations[edit]

The railway 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.[5] On June 15, 2009, Genesee & Wyoming announced that the railway'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.[6][7]

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.[3][8]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.

In June 2015, 15 cars left the tracks near Worthington. November 1, 2015, 13 cars jumped the tracks near Spanish. There were no dangerous goods and no injuries.[12]


  1. ^ "Huron Central Railway". Genesee & Wyoming Canada Inc. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  3. ^ a b Ian Ross, "Back on track - Government, companies open wallets to keep short-line railroad operating", Northern Ontario Business, September 2009, Vol. 29, No. 11
  4. ^
  5. ^ Jeff Stagl (2009-04-22). "Huron Central Railway: Line closure coming if province doesn’t pony up". Progressive Railroading. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  6. ^ "Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Announces Intent to Discontinue Operations of Huron Central Railway". Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  7. ^ "Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Reports Traffic for June 2009 and the Second Quarter of 2009". Genesee & Wyoming Inc. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "Rehabilitation of the Huron Central Railway begins". Daily Commercial News and Construction Record. 2011-09-10. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  10. ^ "Huron Central Railway Announces Start of $33.3 Million Rehabilitation Project". Business Wire. 2011-09-10. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  11. ^ Leeson, Ben (2014-04-15). "Water advisory after train derailment near Nairn". The Sudbury Star. Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  12. ^ Moodie, Jim (2015-11-03). "Another derailment for Huron Central". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 

External links[edit]