SYDNEY, N. S.–Nova Scotia’s provincial regulator has ruled that the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway must deliver goods by rail if that is reasonably required by a shipper who is willing to pay a reasonable rate for the service as the railway operation is wound down, by this fall.
The 47-page decision by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board was released this Thursday, reported The Cape Breton Post. If those two terms aren’t met by a shipper during the discontinuance period, the railway is free to continue with alternate trucking arrangements for other customers, the board ruled.
The board also set the notice period for discontinuation of the rail service between Sydney and St. Peter’s junction near Point Tupper. The notice period will expire on Oct. 1, and the board has directed that Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway give notice to all users that it will disccontnue railway service as of that date.
The railway must now file an amended discontinuance plan reflecting the findings of the board by Jan. 29.
The application by the railway’s parent company Genesee & Wyoming to abandon the Cape Breton portion of the Sydney to Truro line was the subject of a two-day public hearing in Membertou in December.
The UARB was charged with determining how long the rail company must wait before discontinuing the service. A recent change in provincial legislation permits the review board, which is expected to make its decision in January, to impose a waiting period of between six months and one year.
During the hearing, a number of current and former rail line users stated the closure will be financially harmful and logistically challenging. They urged the board to decide on a maximum waiting period to allow for the exploration of other options before the rail infrastructure is torn up and sold.
Genesee & Wyoming Inc. indicated last spring it had no desire to renew a provincial subsidy for the line. Since 2003, the province has provided $23 million in subsidies to the rail line, reported the Cape Breton Post.