N.B. shortline gets governments’ support

A New Brunswick shortline handling grain and other bulk commodities will get up to $18 million in provincial and federal funds for improvements.

The federal and New Brunswick governments have each promised up to $9 million of estimated eligible project costs for work on the New Brunswick Southern Railway (NBSR). The 364-km shortline’s owner, the J.D. Irving Ltd. Group, will provide the balance of the project funds.

NBSR and its U.S. affiliate, Eastern Maine Railway (EMR), connect rail customers in the province to Canadian National (CN) at Saint John, Pan Am Rail at Mattawamkeag, Maine (about 100 km north of Bangor) and Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway at Brownville Junction, about 90 km west of Mattawamkeag.

NBSR, which formed in 1995 to take over the line which Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) had planned to discontinue, now also operates and manages CN’s rail yard at Saint John.

NBSR’s improvement project involves replacing, upgrading and improving the ties, steel rail, rail bed and bridges and upgrading the railway’s terminals in Saint John and McAdam.

Funding will also be used to upgrade the mainline track from Saint John West to the New Brunswick-Maine border and from McAdam to St. Stephen.

“These railway upgrades are good for our customers, the environment and our business,” railway president Jim Irving said in a provincial release Tuesday.

“In total, this project will deliver an estimated $10.6 million in wages and benefits over the next two years. In addition to sustaining 40 jobs at the railway, we anticipate hiring 35 to 40 people for the duration of this project.”

NBSR, which also offers shippers truck/rail reload/transload operations, handles bulk products such as grains, gypsum and stone as well as lumber, pulp, paper and other forest products, automobiles, chemicals and consumer goods.

The province’s funding will flow through the New Brunswick Regional Development Corp., while the federal share will come from the government’s Infrastructure Stimulus Fund (ISF), a two-year, $4 billion program to back “construction-ready” infrastructure rehabilitation.

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