You may recall that in August 2012 CN applied to abandon the section of track from Catamount (the junction with the CN Napadogan subdivision) to Irvco (in Belledune), citing poor economics. This would have resulted in no rail service to Bathurst, Miramichi and Rogersville. CN would have retained the section from Irvco through Campbellton and into Quebec.
Today's announcement shortens the amount of track to be abandoned, but does not eliminate it. The entire Campbellton to Catamount track is to be upgraded and retained, with the exception of the section from Nepisiguit Junction to Nelson Junction just south of Miramichi which is to be offered for sale in February.
CN's own maps show it best. These photos were taken by Marc Genuist of CBC and kindly sent to me.
The double blue line areas are to be retained and upgraded. Both the southern and northern portions will have ties and ballast replaced and bridges remediated as required. The Loggieville spur (shown in the inset and below) will also have turnouts remediated and will have a "new Moncton connection". I'm told this is an east leg to make a wye at Nelson Junction so trains to/from Moncton don't have to cross the Miramichi, as they currently do.
So... what does this mean?
VIA Rail's Ocean will not be able to run through northern New Brunswick any more. Understandably, local mayors and residents are very upset.
The agreement also means that existing shippers will continue to have rail service. To my knowledge, these are the major shippers on the northern portion of the line and their locations. Note that not all of them may be active rail shippers at this time.
- AV Cell, Atholville
- Irving Oil Limited, Campbellton
- Chaleur Sawmills, Belledune
- Xstrata Smelter, Belledune, Irvco spur
- Port of Belledune, Irvco spur
- NB Power Generating Station, Belledune, Irvco spur
- Superior Propane, Beresford
- Holcim cement, Nepisiguit Junction
- Fornebu Lumber, outside Bathurst, near Nepisiguit Junction
There are no shippers between Nepisiguit Junction and Miramichi, nor have there been for quite some time.
On the southern portion of the line, these are the only two major shippers that I am aware of.
- Arbec, Miramichi, Loggieville spur
- Ultramar, Miramichi, Loggieville spur
The province's press release says that "CN, the province and local businesses will continue to work together to increase freight traffic in future years, with benefits to be shared between the two partners". I don't know what the terms of the sharing would be. Would CN repay some of the investment?
The federal government was very noticeable in their absence from the announcement.
More to come.