Sunday, May 05, 2013

CEMR Pine Falls Subdivision Report

The kids and I went to Pine Falls, Manitoba today. I purchased a scanner via Kijiji and had to go there to pick it up (more on that another time). It's quite a drive from Winnipeg to Pine Falls, well over an hour. I took the opportunity to have a look at the CEMR Pine Falls subdivision.

The Central Manitoba Railway assumed operation of the former CN Pine Falls subdivision on May 2, 1999. I wasn't in Manitoba at the time but I understand the major customers on the line were:
  • Imperial Oil just outside Winnipeg
  • A Cargill grain elevator at Birds Hill
  • Coal for the East Selkirk power generation plant
  • A grain elevator in Libau
  • The Pine Falls paper mill
The Pine Falls subdivision was notable for having light rail.

Unfortunately for CEMR and the line, the customers have been dropping off since then. The East Selkirk plant switched to natural gas by 2002. The grain elevator in Libau seems defunct. The biggest blow, however, was the loss of the Pine Falls paper mill.

I understand the Pine Falls mill was founded in 1917 and was owned by Abitibi from 1928 to 1994, then eventually by Tembec. In 2009 Tembec sought concessions from its workers to keep the mill open, and after a dispute, they were locked out on September 1 and despite their determination the mill was permanently closed in September 2010 and sold to Pine Falls Development, a subsidiary of NRI Global, in 2011.

Anyway, on to my trip.

On my way north on highway 59, I saw a grain elevator, so I ducked into Libau to photograph it. The line appears disused but it is intact.
Libau grain elevator

The line crosses highway 59 just before the junction with highway 304 at mile 49 of the subdivision. I noticed that the rails were missing and the crossing signals were dismantled.

The line crosses highway 304 at mile 55.7 and again, the rails are missing.

In Pine Falls, the mill is pretty much gone now. There are materials stacked up for salvage to the side.

When the mill was still in operation, it was using ex-CN SW8 7158 . It is still on the property, very isolated from any rail network.
Ex CN 7158 in Pine Falls Manitoba

Want to buy it? A mere $101,860.68 and it's yours! I find it interesting that the item location is listed as Buffalo, NY and they "may not ship to Canada"...

I understand that the Pine Falls subdivision has been used for rail car storage up to Selkirk, although I did see a CEMR train shunting the CN hoppers in Selkirk. Maybe they were doing training.

On my way back to Winnipeg, I found the end of rail, just past mile 41. This is near the South Beach Casino.


One Man Committee said...

I had no idea about the state of affairs on the Pine Falls sub. Very interesting update... thanks!

Canadian Train Geek said...

I had little idea myself... glad you liked the information.

Unknown said...

Thanks for taking us along on the outing to Pine Falls via CEMR. Very good info.
Now you will have to do the same heading southwest on CEMR to Carman end and bring us up to speed.

mbhydro said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mbhydro said...

There was never an elevator at Birds Hill, the only one I am aware of was as you noted at Libau. And I am not sure of its current status.

The Cargill closure link you have is for Brich Hill Sk.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for the note about the Birds Hill / Birch Hill mixup.

Blair Ivey said...

I like the 'Add to cart' on the listing.

mbhydro said...

Just an update I was as out that way today and see that the line has been lifted from north of the Manitoba Hydro Plant to where you saw the end of line. There were various small piles of old ties on the side of the old ROW and there was one large compound full of hundreds of old ties and semi trailers. There are still some excavators on the right of way so work must be still ongoing in 2015.

Looking at the CEMR site they confirm on their system map the end of line is now East Selkirk at the Hydro Plant. they may be keeping that line for transformer and boiler moves.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for the update! I understand CEMR is piling up the gravel from the roadbed in their yard. Is the sub open to Selkirk still? The last time I saw it, it was blocked with parked cars.

mbhydro said...

end of line is the East Selkirk hydro plant. All the hopper and vehicle transport cars that were around CIL road before the plant are gone.

mbhydro said...

Your right about the big pile of gravel in the CEMR North Transcona yard its on the far west side and sort of hard to spot when driving.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks for the updates, mbhydro! Appreciated.

Anonymous said...

The Ballast piled up at the Cemr facility is in Fact "NOT" from the pine falls line, it is from a supplier in the USA.Trust me I know

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks Anonymous, good to know!

Rico said...

I used to runthe loco at the power plant then worked on the pine falls line for the CEMR, sad to see it go!