Monday, March 19, 2012

Relocate the CP Yards?

CP Winnipeg Yard
Colourful Winnipeg Member of Parliament Pat Martin wants the Canadian Pacific Railway yard moved out of downtown, north to the new CentrePort area. The CBC article says that he favours redevelopment of the yard into housing, green space, recreation space and so forth.

Pat is well known for his tweets and outspoken views. He says there is a good business case to move it to CentrePort. In the interview it was stated that in 1980 the costs to relocate the yard were estimated at $80-$100 million, but the interviewer pointed out that environmental remediation was not included and these days that is very expensive.

Winnipeg Diesel Repair
Pat mentioned the federal "Rail Relocation Act", technically the Railway Relocation and Crossing Act, that can fund up to 50% of the costs of relocating railway tracks. I was unaware of this act.

Far be it for me to dump all over this idea, but I do think this would be a massive cost that CP would fight tooth and nail to avoid. I'm sure CP would be happy to build a new yard but would not be happy to pay for it. I know CP is moving out of Regina's downtown, but their yard in Regina is quite small in comparison with Winnipeg's. CP's main yard in Saskatchewan is in Moose Jaw.

I found it amusing that Pat called Canadian railways "the biggest welfare case in Canadian history." In the past they certainly were massive public works projects, given the size of the land grants they were given, but I would argue that today's transportation welfare cases are trucks, not railways. A debate for another time.

Pat says it's a "slam dunk natural." I am highly skeptical.

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