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Old December 23rd, 2005, 10:48 PM   #1
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Cross Canada Rail Operator Contemplates Christmas Strike

VIA Rail facing holiday walkout
Strike threatened for tomorrow Workers without contract 5 years

Kevin McGran
Toronto Star
23 December 2005

Tens of thousands of passengers could be stranded Christmas Eve unless VIA Rail and its engineers and conductors reach a deal to avert a strike.

VIA's 350 locomotive engineers and conductors - who have been without a contract for five years - threaten to walk off the job at 4: 30 p.m. tomorrow, which would ruin travel plans for Canadians across the country, federal Labour Minister Joe Fontana said yesterday.

"I am asking the parties to do what is necessary to avoid a work stoppage and resolve this matter," Fontana said. "I hope common sense and common decency prevails.

"That's why I'm asking them to work a little harder to keep in mind the various public interests that are at stake here especially during this time when people just want to be together."

Negotiators for both sides continued to talk yesterday in Montreal with two federal mediators, although Fontana said talks "hit a snag. I won't say a brick wall."

The union said pensions are the main stumbling block. Teamsters Canada Rail Conference president Gilles Halle said VIA could be softening its position. "They're flexible now. I think they got the message."

The VIA Rail engineers and conductors have been without a contract since Dec. 1, 2000, when they were represented by a different union. Teamsters took over their representation about 18 months ago. On Monday, workers voted to give their union a strike mandate.

VIA - which last year carried 3.9 million passengers - said it was trying to avoid a walkout on Christmas Eve. "VIA is working hard to avoid a service disruption to customers and remains hopeful that an agreement will be reached before the set deadline," the company said.

VIA said customers with inquiries concerning their travel plans should call 1-888-VIA-RAIL, or check www.viarail.ca .

With Parliament not sitting it would be difficult to introduce back-to-work legislation, Fontana said. But if it can't, he called on the union not to strike and VIA not to lock out its workers.

Bus companies such as Greyhound said they were gearing up in the event of a strike and planned to add buses.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Jean Lapierre announced last night that Jean Pelletier has been fired - for the second time - as chairman of VIA's board.

He said Pelletier won't receive any compensation, since he's already engaged in legal proceedings aimed at recovering lost salary, benefits and damages.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 06:15 AM   #2
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Canadian Rail Strike Devastating to Industry

CN strike devastating to several Canadian industries
16 February 2007



MONTREAL (AP) - An internecine union battle is starting to have devastating effect on Canadian industry as a strike by CN Rail (TSX:CNR) conductors and yard workers heads into its second week.

Layoffs in Ontario's crucial automotive sector have begun to take place as companies aren't able to get the materials they need to assemble vehicles.

Ford Canada has shut down its assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, as workers who make the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis were placed on short shifts last week.

Grain producers are being forced to pay shipping penalties for delays in loading ocean freighters.

And chemical producers are cutting their manufacturing capacity because they can't get their goods to customers.

Fertilizer producers fear a protracted strike will prevent them from shipping their agricultural chemicals to market for the crucial spring growing season.

"It's starting to bite," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association. "People get laid off. If you don't have any raw materials, you send everyone home, it's that simple."

Just-in-time delivery systems have left auto parts and vehicle assemblers with little flexibility to adjust.

"It's like a bunch of dominoes falling down."

CN said 2,800 of its United Transportation Union workers have been on an illegal strike since last Saturday.
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Old February 23rd, 2007, 04:30 AM   #3
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Canada finance minister worried by CN Rail strike

OTTAWA, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Thursday he was worried about the economic impact of a strike at Canadian National Railway .

"It's a significant economic impact in many sectors of the Canadian economy, including agriculture and the automotive sector," Flaherty told reporters. He was replying to a question about whether he was concerned about the strike, which started on Feb. 10.

"That's why we're moving forward," he said, referring to back-to-work legislation that is due to be presented on Friday to Parliament by the minority Conservative government, if the strike is not settled by then.

The office of Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said it had still not heard whether the opposition Liberals and Bloc Quebecois would support the bill, which could speed up its passage.

The left-leaning New Democrats have said they would vote against it.
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Old February 24th, 2007, 05:18 PM   #4
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Sounds like this is a result of "labour reform" legislation. Same old story, but we're at the other end of the cycle. Women sacked for being pregnant ... it's good we have an election coming up.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 04:37 AM   #5
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CN Rail deal eases government intervention threat

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb 25 (Reuters) - The Canadian government put its plans to force an end to the strike at Canadian National Railway Co. on hold on Sunday, after the railroad and the union reached a tentative contract agreement.

But Canadian labor minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn warned the government might intervene if the 2,800 railroad workers do not approve the deal in what is expected to be a hotly contested ratification vote next month.

"(The government) remains prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the strength and stability of the Canadian economy," Blackburn said in a statement a day after the negotiators reached the agreement.

The strike by train conductors and switchmen that began Feb. 10 slowed freight service on Canada's largest railway, and forced the automotive, chemical and forestry industries to idle production because of a lack of rail cars.

The United Transportation Union, or UTU, has urged its members to return to work, although legally the union will remain on strike until the results of the mail-in ratification vote are known on March 26.

The union told employees after the deal was announced on Saturday that returning to work would ease the threat of the government forcing an end to the strike with legislation that would also have allowed a federal arbitrator to impose a contract.

The Conservative government had planned for parliament to vote on the legislation on Thursday or Friday if no contract agreement was reached.

UTU spokesman Frank Wilner said the government's threat to intervene if the workers reject the deal showed how important it was for them to ratify it and avoid legislation that would subject their contract to a "roll of the dice."

Wilner said most strikers appeared to be returning to work, and the company told customers that normal train service was being restored in parts of the country.

The contract talks were overshadowed by a bitter battle within the union, that saw the UTU's international headquarters suspend the original Canadian negotiators midway through the walkout and appoint new negotiators.

The suspended officials were accused of orchestrating the strike in a bid to split the union so the Canadian locals could join the rival Teamsters Union, which represents CN's locomotive engineers.

Officials declined to speculate about how that battle would play out in the ratification vote.

The agreement was for a one-year contract, which the UTU negotiators said would allow the union to "regroup" and negotiate a longer contract later in 2007 without the threat of government intervention.

The union and company had originally proposed three-year contracts.

The contract includes the 3 percent wage hike proposed by the railroad, and not the 4.5 percent demanded by the union before the strike began. Canadian National also agreed to pay a C$1,000 bonus.

Many workers said during the strike that they were more concerned about work rule issues than wages, and the union negotiators say the railroad dropped the concession it had been seeking before the strike.

The previous contract expired at the end of 2006.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 07:48 AM   #6
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Ottawa to name CN arbitrator by Monday -minister

OTTAWA, April 19 (Reuters) - Canada's government aims to appoint an arbitrator by Monday to impose a contract settlement in the labor dispute between Canadian National Railway and its train crews, Labor Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said on Thursday.

After passing a law late Wednesday forcing CN employees back to work, Blackburn said he was working with the company and the union to find an arbitrator they could both agree on. If no agreement is reached, he will make his own choice on Monday from a list of candidates.

"Ideally, we prefer someone that the two parties agree on," Blackburn told Reuters. "If it's not possible by Monday, I will name one."

The arbitrator will have three months to find as much common ground between the two parties as possible. At the end of that period, he will ask both parties to make their final proposals and will choose one or the other.

Blackburn said he had been notified that CN had ended its lockout of workers and that picketers were back on the job.

"I think everything is back in order. They've seen that the government's will is firm on this matter," he said.

Although Ottawa's back-to-work legislation gave the sides 24 hours to end the job action, CN lifted its lockout of picketing workers late on Wednesday. The workers said they were ready to return.

The 2,800 Canadian members of the United Transportation Union, which represents conductors, brakemen and switching crews at CN, rejected a CN contract offer last week that included a 3 percent wage increase.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:55 AM   #7
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Edmonton: Heavy Rail (mostly freight)

On the rails
CP plans expansion to serve Upgrader Alley
Gordon Jaremko, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Monday, May 28, 2007

Canadian Pacific embarked today on an expansion of its Edmonton-area railway network to increase freight service in the developing oilsands upgrader alley northeast of the city.

The program includes a new bridge across the North Saskatchewan River to extend CP tracks into the Redwater area, where new plants will be built north of the railway's existing tracks in the Fort Saskatchewan industrial district.

CP announced acquiring 26 kilometres of new right-of-way in the region and vowed to make a prompt start on obtaining regulatory approval by immediately submitting a project description to the Canadian Transportation Agency.
Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives work in the Calgary yard.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives work in the Calgary yard.
CP PHOTO/Jeff McIntosh
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While seeking permits and refining designs, the company will spend $15 million on improving freight handling facilities for shipments of upgrader construction materials including "dimensional" or jumbo loads of oil industry equipment.

The planned new tracks and bridge will create a new link between the developing upgrader area in Sturgeon County and CP's current freight routes serving Strathcona County, south Edmonton, the Leduc-Nisku region and Calgary.

Long-range plans include increasing railway cargos of oilsands upgrader byproducts such as sulphur, charcoal-like petroleum coke, asphalt and an array of liquids and gases.

"The total rail market will be significant," CP vice-president Ray Foot predicted in an announcement of the expansion program. "The market potential varies based on the timing of the upgraders and facilities."

Up to $40 billion worth of bitumen upgraders are planned for the region northeast of Edmonton. Shell Canada and BA Energy are currently building plants in the Scotford industrial area near Fort Saskatchewan. Newer projects in the Redwater area are lining up for approval by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board.

CP did not predict when all the upgraders will be built or disclose total cost forecasts for all the new rail freight facilities.

The railway will work closely with oil companies and governments to grow at a pace that matches industry needs, CP promised.

Increased use of freight trains will benefit the community and the natural environment, CP predicted. "A single train can replace as many as 280 trucks," Foot said. "This project will significantly reduce traffic congestion, noise and environmental impact in the area."

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© Edmonton Journal 2007
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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:58 AM   #8
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Yard shunted to city's edge
CP's intermodal rail-truck container yard will be relocated, $150M highway interchange built at city's southern edge
Ron Chalmers, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, May 25, 2007

EDMONTON - A major interchange will be built on Calgary Trail at the city's southern edge to serve a new CPR facility and growing residential traffic.

The federal government will contribute $75 million toward the $150-million cost, with the province and city each paying $37.5 million.

"This project will help ensure that Alberta may reap the benefits of international trade," said Rona Ambrose, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Western Economic Development.
CP's intermodal container yard between Gateway Boulevard and 99th Street on the south side will move to a new site on the city's southern limits.View Larger Image View Larger Image
CP's intermodal container yard between Gateway Boulevard and 99th Street on the south side will move to a new site on the city's southern limits.
Chris Schwarz, The Journal
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"It will improve truck traffic and ease local traffic."

Work on the interchange at the Leduc County line at 41st Ave. S.W. is scheduled to begin in 2009 and be finished by 2012. It will allow trucks access to a new Canadian Pacific Railway intermodal facility to be built inside the city limits at 41st Avenue south -- just east of the CPR tracks.

There, containers arriving on railroad cars will be moved onto trucks for deliveries in Edmonton and northern Alberta.

Ottawa's contribution will come from its $1-billion Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, to improve transportation to and from Asia.

The existing CPR intermodal facility, south of Whitemud Drive on 101st Street, now receives about 40 per cent of its containers from Asia, via the CPR line that runs from Vancouver through Calgary, said Jim Buggs, CPR's general manager of gateway and port strategy.

"All the growth is from Asia."

The new $65-million facility, to open in 2009 or 2010, will handle up to 360,000 containers per year, compared to the current annual traffic of 123,000 containers.

Slow-moving trains entering or leaving the existing facility now block traffic on ramps connecting Whitemud Drive and Gateway Blvd. That problem will end with the new facility, said Brice Stephenson, the city's transportation planning manager.

Train traffic at 51st Avenue, 61st Avenue and Whyte Avenue will not be reduced, he said.

The new interchange will carry 41st Avenue S.W. over Calgary Trail and the CPR tracks, said Rob Penny, assistant deputy minister of Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation. It will enable turns in all directions to and from both roads.

This will improve connections with the residential areas of Heritage Valley west of Calgary Trail and Ellerslie east of Calgary Trail.

"It's a key piece of infrastructure for development in the southwest and southeast," said Coun. Mike Nickel. "Sixty per cent of single-family homes are being built south of the Whitemud."

"If we don't build it, development would stop and prices would go up."

Nickel sees "a good business case" for city council to help fund the interchange. "With so much money coming from other orders of government, we're getting a good deal," he said.

Property developers have agreed to pay $10 million toward the city's share, Stephenson said.

The interchange was chosen for federal funding because "it was the Government of Alberta's top priority project," with endorsements from the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Economic Development Corp., and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, Ambrose said.

Provincial funding should be certain because "this is part of our capital plan," said Thomas Lukaszuk, MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs.

[email protected]


© The Edmonton Journal 2007
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Old May 30th, 2007, 03:25 AM   #9
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Land swap with CP prompts praise and misgivings
Hanneke Brooymans, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2007

EDMONTON -- The provincial government will likely trade away some of its natural areas to make room for a railway through the industrial heartland near Fort Saskatchewan.

In the deal, Astotin Natural Area would be transferred to Canadian Pacific, as would one-third of what's called the Northwest of Bruderheim Natural Area.

In exchange for those 320 hectares, CP is offering 800 hectares in four different areas next to Lois Hole Provincial Park, Ministik Game Bird Sanctuary, Miquelon Lake Provincial Park and Beaverhill Lake Heritage Rangeland Natural Area.
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The government is evaluating the deal, and a formal agreement could be in place by August, said Doug Bowes, manager of policy and land use for Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture.

"This would be the first time something like this specifically has been done," he said.

Bowes said the deal would be a good one for the province. "(CP) is offering more than what we're giving up."

He said the department is also worried the Astotin and Bruderheim natural areas will become cut off from other wilderness habitat and surrounded by industrial plants, effectively turning them into ecological islands.

"We try to avoid that with our sites," Bowes said. "We like to see them still connected to a larger land base in some fashion."

Glen Semenchuk said that's exactly what the provincial government did when it set aside natural areas during a conservation program called Special Places 2000.

"Some of the places they created, these little postage stamp things, we gave that same argument to them and they totally ignored it," said Semenchuk, executive director of the Federation of Alberta Naturalists.

"And now they're taking our words and using them again."

He also has a problem with the way the deal was done.

"When these natural areas are set up, it's a public trust. And before they start doing this commercial swapping, it should be very transparent and they should be prepared to have the public involved. Maybe it is for the greater good, but how can we evaluate it?"

The president of the Fort Saskatchewan Naturalist Society also has some misgivings about the deal.

"I'm disillusioned," Art Hughes said after learning about the deal in a private meeting with department officials.

The society has been a steward of Astotin Natural Area for a couple of decades. Hughes said he saw his first American goldfinch and rose-breasted grosbeak there.

"According to CP, this is the only option open to them, but I think it's just the least costly for them," Hughes said.

CP spokesman Mark Seland said: "The point is not necessarily to deliberately go through such areas, but to find the most commercially viable route to serve the customers. Having said that, we worked very closely with the province and achieved what we thought was a fairly productive deal and fairly positive for everybody involved."

The company needs the provincial land to provide direct rail service to upgraders planned for the area.

[email protected]


© The Edmonton Journal 2007
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Old June 1st, 2007, 07:09 AM   #10
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Link here has some maps showing the plans.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 07:18 AM   #11
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High Speed Rail plans between Edmonton and Calgary.

First, let's start with the articles from mid-May to brief everyone on what's up.


(May 18th, 2007)



Think-tank, Alberta premier keen on Calgary-Edmonton link

Calgary Herald; CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, May 18, 2007

A multibillion-dollar high-speed rail link between Calgary and Edmonton took a forceful step forward Thursday after Premier Ed Stelmach threw his support behind the idea and an Ottawa think-tank called for a feasibility study.

"We have to. We have no choice. It will reduce emissions and it's visionary," the premier told reporters at the legislature.

"Now is the time to prepare because we have the options available to purchase land."

Stelmach's comments came in the wake of a report from the Conference Board of Canada calling on the federal and provincial governments to investigate the costs and benefits of high-speed rail links for the Calgary-Edmonton corridor, and between Windsor, Ont., and Quebec City.

It also follows the purchase in April by the province of land in downtown Calgary and in Edmonton that could serve as train stations and the acquisition of properties along QE II Highway to ensure it controls a right-of-way.

"I hope that our report does add weight to the argument," said conference board president and chief executive Anne Golden. "Federal and provincial governments must seriously consider it."

The concept has been discussed for years, but is now the subject of a $1-million market-assessment study by the government of Alberta, due in July. It's the latest in a series of examinations that have so far indicated the concept may have merit.

"There's already a lot of attention on the idea here in Alberta," said Jerry Bellikka, a spokesman for Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette.

"You have to look at things on a business case and that's going to involve a lot of factors: Whether or not there's a market for it, what the cost would be, if we have the population to support it," Bellikka said, adding the government has no plans beyond its current market study.

"We're waiting to see what the market study tells us."

While a rail link along Highway 2 would seem like the most logical right-of-way, Stelmach said the government has also eyed Highway 21, which runs parallel to the QEII about 50 kilometres to the east.

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

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Old June 1st, 2007, 04:29 PM   #12
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Is there an existing railway, freight or passenger between Edmonton and Calgary?
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 03:07 AM   #13
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There is only a freight line. VIA Rail does not service Calgary at the moment. Meaning that there is no passenger rail between Edmonton and Calgary, Vancouver and Calgary and Winnipeg and Calgary.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 05:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xelebes View Post
There is only a freight line. VIA Rail does not service Calgary at the moment. Meaning that there is no passenger rail between Edmonton and Calgary, Vancouver and Calgary and Winnipeg and Calgary.
Big deal. Passenger traffic in Western Canada is almost nill. Other than tourists who actually uses VIA?

If anything get rid of all passenger service in the West and improve the freight traffic.
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Old June 4th, 2007, 06:16 AM   #15
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High-speed rail 'interesting': PM
CALGARY-EDMONTON; But decision on 'priority' up to province
Jason Fekete, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, June 02, 2007

CALGARY - Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to pledge funding yesterday to build a high-speed rail link between Calgary and Edmonton, in the wake of a major report calling on the federal and provincial governments to investigate the value of a bullet train.

Premier Ed Stelmach recently said the provincial government "has no choice" but to build a high-speed train between Alberta's two major cities.

And a report released in May by the Conference Board of Canada called on the federal and provincial governments to fully investigate the costs and benefits of high-speed rail links for both the Calgary-Edmonton and the Windsor-Quebec City corridors.

Speaking yesterday in Calgary at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference, Mr. Harper said Ottawa is committed to transit infrastructure across the country, but seemed to leave the provincial government to drive the agenda on a high-speed rail project.

"It sounds interesting," Mr. Harper said of the proposed bullet train.

"Ultimately the province itself will have to take a look and decide whether this really fits its own priorities," he added. "No matter how many dollars you spend on infrastructure, there's an infinite number of priorities and they'll have to reach their own conclusion on whether that's at the top of their list."

In April, the Alberta government bought land in downtown Calgary and in Edmonton that could serve as train stations and is looking at purchasing right-ofways between the two cities for the possible rail link.

The call by the Ottawa-based Conference Board -- a privately funded economic think-tank -- adds momentum to the concept, which has been discussed for years but is now the subject of a $1-million market assessment study by the Alberta government, due in July. It's the latest in a series of examinations that have indicated the concept has merit.

The project took a forceful step forward a few weeks ago when Mr. Stelmach also threw his support behind the idea.

"We have to. We have no choice. It will reduce emissions and it's visionary. Now is the time to prepare because we have the options available to purchase land," the premier said at the time.

"It's part of planning for the future-- there's no doubt about it -- as the province of Alberta continues to grow and we see more people move to Edmonton, Calgary and, of course, the Highway 2 corridor," Mr. Stelmach said.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 08:36 AM   #16
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Oilsands railway to raise $150M for tracks

Gordon Jaremko, edmontonjournal.com
Published: Thursday, June 07, 2007

Alberta's historic oilsands railway is embarking on a final six-month drive to raise about $150 million for track improvements needed to keep trains rolling to Fort McMurray.

Athabasca Northern Railway, or ANY for short, has told the province that it will cease operations in 180 days unless new support is found. The legal notice will be published next week.

"We're talking to everyone involved with the railway" from freight shippers and connected lines to the provincial government, ANY business development manager Bob Feeney said.

But options under review do not include reviving a $2.6-billion, government-financed oilsands rail and road megaproject proposed in a 2004 report commissioned for $2.5 million by former premier Ralph Klein and Calgary business leaders Jim Gray and Paul Giannelia.

The plan, nicknamed the Ralphway by critics, called for creating a hybrid government and industry corporation to take over managing and expanding all transportation services in the northeastern Alberta bitumen belt.

"It was reviewed," Feeney recalled in an interview.

"There was never any announcement. The bottom line was it just basically died a slow death. That was too grandiose a scheme. It was so unwieldy that nobody was willing to tackle the whole thing."

No commitment to act on the big plan was ever made by the government, Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation spokesman Jerry Bellikka said.

"Investing isn't on our radar screen. We encourage them (ANY) to explore their options," he said.

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Journal resources writer Gordon Jaremko will have a full report on the plan in Friday's Journal.

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Old June 14th, 2007, 03:23 AM   #17
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Edmonton on track to future
CN chief says city can expect jobs and rail operation growth as Rupert opens

David Finlayson
The Edmonton Journal

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

EDMONTON - Edmonton will be a key link in CN's growth as Western Canada becomes the hot market area, CEO Hunter Harrison said Tuesday.

The city is perfectly positioned to become a major transportation hub as the Prince Rupert container port comes on stream and Chicago continues to be gridlocked, Harrison told the chamber of commerce.

"The difference between Edmonton and Chicago is we can get through Edmonton and we can't get through Chicago."

"So all of the growth from Prince Rupert and the return business to Prince Rupert, as well as growth in Vancouver, is going to flow through Edmonton. We're going to see job creation, capital investment and probably yard expansion." Western Canada business grew eight per cent year over year, while Eastern Canada was down a couple of points, Harrison said.

"The future is bright in Western Canada and we are spending a billion dollars on infrastructure to prepare for it."

The railway is building a $32-million Fort Saskatchewan oil and gas distribution centre, and a $1.6-million east Edmonton facility for train to truck transfer of liquid products such as methanol, biodiesel and drilling mud will open later this year, Harrison said.

The $160-million Prince Rupert first phase will be sold out before it even opens this fall, and the partners will move into phase two as quickly as possible, he added.

Financing for the $600-million second phase-- a concern for the port authority earlier this year -- is now in place, he said. "There are some other hurdles, but not financing hurdles. From a financing standpoint its a done deal."

Prince Rupert is 36 hours closer to the vital Asian markets than any other U.S. or Canadian port.

CN is also building a $20-million transload operation and intermodal rail terminal in Prince George to tap into wood and other resource-based export products in northern B.C.

Harrison also said the railway is changing its culture so it's safer for workers and communities after a series of "unfortunate" incidents in the last couple of years, including the Wabamun Lake spill. "It's not about bottom-line dollars. It's the right thing to do."

Harrison spent two days meeting with his board here this week and will receive an honorary law degree from the U of A. today.

"For someone who as a 17 year old worked in the grease pit oiling boxcars that is quite an honour," he said.

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 01:41 AM   #18
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CN opens wallet for Western infrastructure


Prince Rupert, oilsands deliver opportunities

British Columbia and Alberta will play key roles as the Canadian National Railway Co. spends $1 billion on infrastructure, including new equipment and new facilities, in Western Canada.

The spending comes as CN prepares for increased opportunities arising from B.C.'s Port of Prince Rupert - North America's closest port to Asia - and Alberta's oilsands.

"For the near future, we know the growth is in Western Canada," CN president and CEO Hunter Harrison told a recent Edmonton Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Business levels are flat for CN in the U.S. and down slightly - between one and two per cent - in Eastern Canada, Harrison said. But in Western Canada, growth is up by eight per cent, year-over-year, for the period of 2007 to date compared to the same 2006 time frame.

CN, which has approximately 20,264 route-miles of track in Canada and the United States, serves ports on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts and earned $7.7 billion in revenue last year.

This year, CN's plans are to invest nearly $350 million in track infrastructure to take advantage of growth prospects in North American trade with Asia and the boom in the West.

In Edmonton, home to CN's network centre operations and the company's western region headquarters, the railway will open the Bissell CargoFlo facility at a cost of $1.6 million later this year, providing streamlined services for the transfer of bulk liquid chemicals from rail to truck. To be operated by CN WorldWide North America, it will handle products such as methanol, sodium hydroxide, drilling mud, ethanol and biodiesel.

In neighbouring Fort Saskatchewan, it's constructing a $32-million oil and gas distribution centre.

In B.C., CN expects the first phase of its Port of Prince Rupert container terminal to be sold out even before it opens this fall. The Port of Prince Rupert is 36 hours closer in sailing time to Shanghai than Vancouver and 68 hours closer than Los Angeles.

Financing for the terminal's second phase, which will see the initial annual throughput capacity of 500,000 TEUs (twenty foot-equivalent containers) rise to a capability of two million TEUs per year, is already in place, said Harrison.

"There are some other hurdles, but not financing hurdles. From a financing standpoint it's a done deal," said Harrison.

CN is also investing $20 million in its new Prince George distribution centre, located about 800 km east of the Port of Prince Rupert. Scheduled to open this fall and designed to handle 25,000 containers, there is also the potential for further expansion of the facility.

These moves will enable both Edmonton and Prince George to become major transportation hubs, Harrison said.

For Edmonton, it could even put the city on the same footing as Chicago - but without the gridlock CN faces there.

"The difference between Edmonton and Chicago is we can get through Edmonton and we can't get through Chicago," said Harrison.

Greg Christenson, chair of the board of directors of the Edmonton chamber, also played up the Chicago angle at the June event.

"Edmonton has an opportunity with this growth in the north and the eight-per-cent growth from the CN line in Western Canada to re-leverage that, to make Edmonton into a distribution-based city or community, much like Chicago on the Great Lakes," he said.

"Our access is through Prince Rupert to China and Asia. So we see Chicago as two things: A great commercial city with a transportation base and also a high quality of life for its residents - so that's the analogy."

For Prince George Mayor Colin Kinsley, also in attendance at the chamber function, CN's Prince George distribution centre is the just the beginning of building a key transportation centre.

"Actually it's a tremendous move forward in establishing Prince George as a transportation hub for British Columbia, and perhaps over the many coming years, as a great entry point for distributions throughout North America. It's well positioned in that it's the first major centre from the port of Prince Rupert," said Kinsley.

Prince George is also expanding its airport - it now has international status and full Canada Customs and Immigration service - and hopes that in about 18 months, the facility's runway will be upgraded so it can accommodate heavy air transport planes.

This would enable it to become a first point of entry into North America.

"The growth in that type of transportation is something in excess of seven per cent per year and Anchorage, Alaska - which is now the entry point for these heavies coming in from Asia as a first stop for fuel - is at capacity," says Kinsley. "So that opens up a huge opportunity for Prince George because it's on the same (what they call the) circle route and the difference in time is a couple of minutes, I understand."

Meanwhile, the rail opportunities - both for Prince George and Edmonton - arise out of back-haul possibilities.

"It's common knowledge that there's a lot empty containers going back to Asia because of the extreme amount of product that's coming to North America," says Kinsley.

"We now can stuff those containers with pulp. We have three very large, highly efficient pulp mills in Prince George itself - plus two more 70 miles south in Quesnel, another one north of us at Mackenzie - so those pulp products and paper products that were shipped by truck to Vancouver for access to ships will now be stuffed right in Prince George at this facility and sent to Prince Rupert."

A recently signed memorandum of understanding between Prince George, the Port of Prince Rupert and Edmonton to market this new corridor will ensure that all three parties benefit.

"Each of us will have a role to play in promoting each other's advantages for shippers, both leaving the country on back haul and coming into the country," said Kinsley.

"The discussions with (Edmonton) Mayor (Stephen) Mandel and myself are about the fact that we're not in competition with one another, we're here to complement one another and grow this transportation link. There's enough for all of us, if not more."


http://www.businessedge.ca/article.cfm/newsID/15745.cfm
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Old August 6th, 2007, 09:08 PM   #19
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CANADA | Railways

If nobody has stared about the VIA Rail topic, I would like to start it here. When I look at the fares, especially with VIA 1 class some of them really got me shocked. These are one way fares.

Montreal-Kingston $139, Montreal-Belleville $140. I don't even understand why a small difference, given that Kingston and Belleville are about a 40 minute or 72km apart. Is it because demand for VIA 1 is higher to/from Kingston? I know Belleville is a sleepy city for many ppl who work in Toronto or Kingston.

The same problem is present with Toronto-Belleville $97 and Toronto-Kingston $145.
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Old August 8th, 2007, 05:45 AM   #20
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Vancouver to Toronto by Via Rail

$795 from Vancouver to Toronto One Way in the cheapest class!

Round trip in sleeper class (it is a three-day trip after all) is $4150!

Via is a nice idea but it is absurdly expensive if you are coming from the West.
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