Proposed “bear train” will require agreement with short-haul operator Watco to run between Oba and Hearst on CN right-of-way
The US Surface Transportation Board has given the green light to the sale of a 250-mile section of railway line between Sault Ste. Marie and Oba, Ont., To Kansas-based shortline operator Watco.
The approval was announced on Dec. 21 as part of a larger branch approval in Wisconsin and Michigan.
“CN and Watco will work together over the next few weeks to implement a smooth transition for customers on the lines,” the two railways said in a joint press release.
If Mask-wa Oo-ta-ban – the “bear train” proposed by the Cree First Nation of Missanabie and the Mask-wa Transportation Association Inc. – is to run between the Sault and Hearst, an agreement will be necessary with Watco to travel between Oba and Hearst on CN tracks.
In an article published a day earlier, Railfan and Railroad Magazine reported that a shipping group that previously opposed the sale to Watco had changed its mind and now supported the deal.
The following statement was issued on December 21 by the Canadian National Railway Company:
CN and Watco Announce Surface Transportation Board Approval of Rail Line Sale in Wisconsin and Michigan
MONTREAL, December 21, 2021 – CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) and Watco are pleased to announce that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) has approved the sale of non-core lines and assets approximately 650 miles from the Wisconsin Central Ltd. branch lines. in Wisconsin and Michigan.
This is an important step towards the successful conclusion of the sale process that CN announced and launched in July 2020, which also includes the sale of the Soo Subdivision (approximately 250 miles of track) that departs from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to Oba, Ontario.
CN and Watco will work together over the next few weeks to implement a smooth transition for customers on the lines.
After the close, CN will continue to play a central role in Wisconsin and Michigan, as the transferred segments will remain connected to CN’s tri-shore network, securely and reliably connecting businesses to markets around the world.
CN is committed to building the railroad of the future, one that creates value for its shareholders by genuinely meeting the needs of its customers.
CN is a world-class transportation leader and trade enabler.
Vital to the economy, the customers and the communities it serves, CN safely transports more than 300 million tonnes of natural resources, manufactured goods and finished goods across North America each year.
As the only railway connecting the east and west coasts of Canada to the southern United States by a 19,500 mile rail network, CN and its affiliates have contributed to community prosperity and sustainable commerce since 1919.
CN is committed to implementing programs that support social responsibility and environmental stewardship.
Watco is a leading logistics and services company providing transportation, mechanical repair and maintenance, materials handling and warehousing, and logistics solutions to customers in North America and Australia.
Watco is one of the largest short line railroad holding companies in the United States with more than 5,000 miles of track.
Over its 40 year history, Watco has become a leader in the rail industry through exceptional customer service, improved safety and a strong commitment to its public and private partners.
Watco-controlled railways currently operate over 600 miles of track in the state of Wisconsin.