|Government of Canada Branch Line Rehabilitation|
The Crow Rate was ended in 1984 by the federal Liberal government and transport minister Jean Luc Pepin, through the passage of the Western Grain Transportation Act. The government continued to subsidize the shipping rate and recently this subsidy has been replaced by the the rail revenue cap. Farmer's subsidies are complicated!
While the Crow Rate was in effect, there was no incentive for the railways to maintain the lines and no incentive to add new grain shippers. CN and CP weren't maintaining Prairie branch lines and many lines still had very light rail, limiting car weights to 177,000 lbs/car and therefore only permitting boxcars to be loaded. Loading boxcars with wheat is very time-consuming and labour intensive. Here's a great article on CP's grain boxcars.
Federal Government Investment
|Grain cars in Chaplin, SK, August 2010|
* The number of grain cars purchased doesn't appear to be certain - many sources quote 12,400 and some quote 13,500. It is also not clear whether this includes the 2,000 aluminum hoppers purchased between 1975 and 1978. Those were not very successful due to structural issues and the last was retired in 2009.
Note that Saskatchewan purchased 1,000 cars in 1981 (900 remained by the end of 2015) and Alberta purchased several hundred. Here's a good article on the uniquely Canadian grain cars.
The government spent hundreds of millions on prairie branch line rehabilitation to support these larger cars, which was in essence a direct subsidy to the railways. Good thing this was before free trade!
The railways owned the lines after rehabilitation. In many cases rehabilitated lines were eventually abandoned, and the relatively new rails were lifted and reused elsewhere.
Ballast CarsThe railways purchased ballast cars that were funded by the rehabilitation program. These cars were stencilled to reflect this funding but were owned and maintained by the railways.
CN's Open HoppersSeries CN 90000-90479 were built by National Steel Car in the late 1970s as open top hoppers. These cars were painted orange with a large black CN "noodle". One side says "CANADIAN NATIONAL" and the other says "CANADIEN NATIONAL", which was typical for CN freight cars.
|CN 90170 in Prince George, BC, June 2014|
|CN 90333 in Winnipeg, March 2015|
|CN 90127, covered, Winnipeg, February 2016|
CN Flat Bottomed GondolasMarine Industries built CN 91000-91143, a set of flat bottomed gondolas with side gates to dump ballast on the outside of the rails.
|CN 91064, Winnipeg, January 2016|
|CN 91067, Winnipeg, January 2016|
CN Air Dump CarsA third series of CN maintenance of way cars purchased for the branchline rehabilitation program is the CN 528xx series of air dump cars, built by Hawker Siddeley Canada. It appears to have been a pretty small series. So far I have discovered photos for CN 52899, CN 52850 below and this one.
|CN 52850, Winnipeg, March 2015|
CP Ballast HoppersNational Steel Car built the series CP 456000-456325 for Canadian Pacific for branch line rehabilitation work. These cars were painted black with a large CP "multimark" at one end.
|CP 456267, Emerson, Manitoba, May 2014|
|CP 456239, Winnipeg, May 2011|
|CP ballast cars, Winnipeg, May 2011|
Boxcar RehabilitationMany of the existing grain boxcars were rehabilitated as well. These boxcars continued to serve the light branchlines that were not upgraded, and some continued to serve the Churchill line in Manitoba until that was finally upgraded to handle the cylindrical grain hoppers.
|CP 252797, Beiseker, AB, July 2013|
CN's boxcars lasted until the end of 1996 in Churchill service, again according to Eric Gagnon. Some 1,000 40' boxcars were rehabilitated starting in 1985 with money provided by the province of Manitoba, for Churchill service; these boxcars wore a bison logo and were nicknamed "Buffalo boxes".
Cars rehabilitated under the federal program bore the wheat sheaf logo seen on this CP boxcar stored in Beiseker, Alberta.
There's a great article in the March 1999 Branchline magazine, "The 40-foot Boxcar's Last Dance" by David Maiers. Recommended.
No 40' boxcars exist in revenue service. A few may survive in maintenance-of-way service for CN or CP.
Modeling the Branchline Rehabilitation Program
- CN orange hoppers - can start with Walthers Amtrak ballast hoppers and apply Highball Graphics decals for a rough match - HO scale decals
- Walthers did produce CN ballast cars, that may still be found on eBay and elsewhere
- CN side dump car - ???
- CP black hoppers - repaint Walthers Amtrak ballast hoppers and apply CP multimark decals
- 40' CP grain boxcars - Intermountain - #46822 "ready to run"
- 40' CN and CP grain boxcars - Trains Canada (defunct)
- 40' CN boxcars - Highball Graphics - HO scale decals
- CN grain boxcar - Ozark Miniatures (ex CDS) - HO scale decals
- Wheat sheave decals etc. - Ozark Miniatures (ex CDS) - HO scale
- Farm Communities at the Crossroads: Challenge and Resistance
- Canadian Encyclopedia on the Crow's Nest Pass Agreement
- Manitoba Historical Society on Grain Rates
- Canadian Freight Car Gallery