Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Two More Cuts

There were two more deep cuts recently in the "death of a thousand cuts" affecting rail service in northern New Brunswick.

The first was the planned end of mining at Brunswick Mines (outside Bathurst) on May 1. Once the largest zinc mine in the world, it was in operation for 49 years. Here's a great video on the history of the mine.
This was the major customer for CN on the Nepisiguit subdivision. The last train to the mine (CN 566) ran on May 3 and it returned as CN 567 on May 4 to unload at Belledune at Xstrata's smelter, which will remain open for the time being. Michel Boudreau posted this video of the last of the blue ore cars used in the mine service leaving Bathurst a few days afterward.

Here's a video I took of two New Brunswick East Coast Railway RS-18s powering the empty ore train on its way to the mine.

The second cut, a direct result of the first, is the final closure of the Campbellton shops. Since there are no more ore cars to repair, CN has laid off the last five of the car repair crew at the shops and their final day was yesterday.

The shop area dates back to the opening of the Intercolonial Railway. At one time Campbellton boasted a roundhouse, turntable, and workshops.

The shops dwindled in importance over the years, but enjoyed a resurgence during the New Brunswick East Coast Railway years when the NBEC (and subsidiary Eastern Rail Services) was based out of there. I had the pleasure of touring the area in 2009 but by then it was being sold to CN.

Tim Jaques, editor, wrote a nice article in the Campbellton Tribune about the closure of the shop on May 31. I can't show it here because it's behind the Brunswick News paywall. However, if you are a member of the excellent RailsNB group on Facebook, you can read it here.

More cuts, and more to come. It's hard to be optimistic about the future of rail service in northern New Brunswick.

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