Sask. shortline rail grants continue

The Saskatchewan government has laid out another $500,000 for a second year of annual infrastructure grants for the province’s shortline railways.

The money, announced Wednesday, will be matched by the recipient companies for a total infrastructure outlay of $1 million in 2009, the province said.

The nine provincially-regulated shortline railways currently operating in Saskatchewan cover about 1,600 km and connect to about 7,100 km of federally regulated rail lines in the province.

“Shortlines provide shippers with another effective and competitive transportation option, support economic development in rural Saskatchewan and contribute to reducing truck traffic congestion, related greenhouse gases and road wear,” Infrastructure Minister Jim Reiter said in a release.

“We also recognize the importance of shortlines because they help link Saskatchewan’s export-based economy to provincial, national and worldwide markets. That’s why the province has been a leader and innovator in this area.”

The largest grant recipient this year will be the province’s longest shortline, Shaunavon-based Great Western Railway (GWR), receiving $217,756.

Among the remaining eight, OmniTrax’s northern Carlton Trail Railway will receive $75,073; Regina-based southwestern line Red Coat Road and Rail gets $50,488; GWR’s southwestern Fife Lake Railway gets $42,585; community-owned north-central line Wheatland Rail, $32,488; farmer-owned south-central Southern Rails Co-operative, $31,610; Thunder Rail, a farmer-backed northern line formerly owned by OmniTrax, $25,000; and Torch River Rail, a former CPR line in the province’s northeast, $25,000.

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