Sask. to back shortline rail improvements

The Saskatchewan government will support shortline rail companies’ infrastructure projects with a new program announced Tuesday.

The provincial highways and infrastructure department will put up $500,000 this fiscal year to cost-share infrastructure projects 50/50 with eligible shortline companies.

Any of Saskatchewan’s eight shortline railways is eligible to apply for funding if it meets criteria, such as supporting economic development in its region and demonstrating its ability to contribute to its share of a project, the province said.

Priority will go to projects improving safety and efficiency of service, the province said.

Saskatchewan’s shortline tracks cover 1,411 km, connecting to CN or CPR track at various points in the province. The largest are the Great Western Railway, in the province’s southwest (496 km) and the Carlton Trail Railway in the Prince Albert and Meadow Lake areas (481 km).

“The program is required because shortline railways have aging infrastructure that needs to be maintained and upgraded so Saskatchewan’s transportation system
can meet current and future needs,” the province said in a fact sheet.

“Shortline railways have been requesting an infrastructure program and have worked with the province to see it developed,” said Roger Gadd, chairman of the Saskatchewan Shortline Railroad Association, in the province’s release.

Eligible companies are asked to apply “as soon as possible,” the province said. Applications will be reviewed by a five-member panel, to include two ministry representatives, two from the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) and one from the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA).

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