CN Rail Seeking to Appeal James Street Bridge Ruling

CN Rail James Street Swing Bridge with Mount McKay in the background
CN Rail James Street Swing Bridge with Mount McKay in the background
The James Street Bridge remains closed to train, vehicle and pedestrian traffic
The James Street Bridge remains closed to vehicle traffic

THUNDER BAY – CN has provided the City of Thunder Bay notice that it intends to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision ordering CN to repair and reopen the James Street bridge to all traffic, including cars and trucks.

Mayor Hobbs
Mayor Hobbs.

Mayor Keith Hobbs today made the following statement in response:

“We are beyond disappointed with this move. We are outraged. We are confident that the decision of the Court of Appeal is correct. We believe CN is using the legal system to delay the inevitable, and that they are still fully responsible for the bridge. They will have to reopen it either now, or later. We call upon CN to do the right thing.

We will vigorously defend any legal tactic presented by CN. This is CN’s bridge. They own it. They need to repair it and reopen it.

In 2015, a wooden bridge in Minnesota owned by CN (called Rat River Bridge) caught fire, and was completely destroyed. CN constructed a brand new bridge in nine days. Our question to CN is, why not us too?”

The James Street bridge is owned, operated, controlled and maintained by CN. It has been closed to vehicle traffic since October 2013 after fire damage.

CN has not yet responded to requests for comment from NNL.

The decision on the James Street Bridge does, however, seem to be in a conflict with a July 11, 2018 press release from CN which states that the company is investing $315 million to upgrade infrastructure in Ontario. That press statement says that there will be money to repair bridges and rail crossings.

CN Train loaded with lumber stuck on the south side of the tracks.
CN Train

CN Plans $315 Million Investment in Ontario Infrastructure

TORONTO, July 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CN (TSX:CNR) (NYSE:CNI) said today it plans to invest approximately $315 million in Ontario in 2018 to expand and strengthen the company’s rail network across the province.

“We are investing for the long haul with these projects to boost capacity and network resiliency to meet growing demand across our economy,” said Michael Farkouh, vice-president of CN’s Eastern Region. “Our investments in track and intermodal yard capacity combined with new equipment will help us deliver superior service to our customers in Ontario and North America. Additionally, our substantial investments to renew our existing railway infrastructure underscores our commitment to operating safely.”

The Ontario investments are part of CN’s record $3.4 billion capital program for 2018. They include a new train passing siding in CN’s transcontinental corridor through Northern Ontario linking Toronto and Winnipeg, and intermodal rail yard expansions that will improve efficient movement of containers into and out of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Other capital program elements will focus on the replacement, upgrade and maintenance of key track infrastructure to improve overall safety and efficiency.

“I applaud CN’s investment in important railway infrastructure across Ontario,” said Navdeep Bains, the Canadian minister of innovation, science and economic development. “These investments will help connect Canadians by improving transportation and will maintain and expand CN’s workforce of nearly 4,000 Ontarians.”

“This is good news for Ontario and for Ontario jobs,” said Doug Ford, premier of Ontario. “It is particularly good news for the communities, businesses and jobs that depend on our natural resource and manufacturing sectors. I applaud CN for walking the walk and sending a clear signal to the world that it’s a great time to invest in our province. Ontario is open for business.”

Planned expansion projects include:

  • Investments in a satellite intermodal facility near CN’s Brampton Intermodal Terminal to provide temporary capacity
  • Intermodal equipment and infrastructure at CN’s Brampton Intermodal Terminal to serve growing cold supply chain business
  • Construction of a new train passing siding east of Sioux Lookout

Maintenance program highlights include:

  • Replacement of approximately 90 miles of rail
  • Installation of more than 380,000 new railroad ties
  • Rebuilds of approximately 60 road crossing surfaces
  • Maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems and other track infrastructure

CN’s Ontario rail network stretches across the province, and the GTHA is home to MacMillan Yard, CN’s largest rail car classification facility, and Brampton Intermodal Terminal, CN’s largest intermodal facility. The Ontario network reaches other terminals across Canada’s industrial heartland, from Thunder Bay to Sarnia.

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see CN make such a significant investment in Ontario communities,” said Rocco Rossi, president and chief executive officer of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It is investments like CN’s that will help ensure Ontario is prosperous and competitive globally. We are proud that CN is leading the way in supporting communities across the province.”

CN investing for the long haul

Across its network, CN continues to invest in trade-enabling infrastructure and equipment. Earlier this year, CN announced plans to acquire 350 new box cars to serve forest products and metals customers, and that it will purchase 350 new lumber cars from National Steel Car in Hamilton to meet growing demand to move wood products. Last month, CN announced that it plans to acquire 1,000 new generation, high-cube grain hopper cars over the next two years, also from National Steel Car in Hamilton, to rejuvenate the aging equipment needed to serve increasing annual crop yields.

CN has taken delivery of 10 of the 60 new GE locomotives due in service in 2018. The balance of a multi-year, 200-unit order will be brought online in 2019 and 2020.

After adding hundreds of conductors to the field so far this year, CN continues to hire in Ontario and across Canada. Approximately 1,250 new qualified conductors will be in the field network-wide before next winter, compared to heading into the previous winter.

CN is also pleased to announce the establishment of a new, two-year Management Trainee Program designed to provide a solid operational background for the railway’s next generation of leaders. Over the course of the program, trainees will learn how CN operates and gain exposure to the company’s business agenda of operational and service excellence for its customers across North America. Successful graduates will be placed in full-time, permanent management positions aligned with individual educational background and experience.  The first 50 trainees, from both Canada and the United States, will start this summer.

Ontario in numbers:

  • Capital investments: more than $1.2 billion in the last five years
  • Employees: approximately 3,600
  • Railway route miles operated: 2,510
  • Community partnerships: $4.6 million in 2017
  • Local spending: $2.2 billion in 2017
  • Cash taxes paid: $114 million in 2017
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