Friday April 25, 2014

Red Coat Road-Rail hanging on


The Red Coat Road and Rail shortline railway has come through a tough couple of years, but they’ll be able to be around for another year of operation, said board member Lonny McKague.

Part of the challenges for Red Coat centred around the loss of the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board just over a year ago.
“Things are tight but we’re still here. We’re trying to put new partnerships together,” said McKague.

He noted the flooding of 2011 was a major challenge for the shortline railway, depleting their reserves that had been built up from when the shortline was established.

McKague said if they experience another “major disaster” like the floods, it might put them under, explaining they were in much the same position as RMs many of which had soft roads to repair and strengthen due to flooding waters overflowing them.

“In one one-mile stretch, we had to spend well over $400,000, close to $500,000, just in moving dirt around to shore up the tracks,” said McKague.

“We’re still adjusting to the new environment in the industry,” he added.

Asked if producer cars are still being used on the shortline railway, McKague said they are, and it is almost entirely due to the new-version Canadian Wheat Board, since grain companies aren’t really interested in promoting their use.

He noted that in moving producer cars, they’ve been able to find new markets in the U.S.

“Customer loyalty is the reason we’re still in existence,” added McKague.

Red Coat was established in 1999 when the 114.5 km piece of railway was purchased from CP Rail, extending from Pangman to Assiniboia. Red Coat is an organization made up of municipal representaties along the line.


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