Decision No. 134-R-2000
February 29, 2000
APPLICATION by the St. Lawrence & Hudson Railway Company Limited pursuant to subsection 140(2) of the Canada Transportation Act, S.C., 1996, c. 10, for a determination by the Canadian Transportation Agency as to whether the North Bank Branch, from mileage 0.0 to mileage 0.64, with headblock at mileage 0.30 on the line to the Dominion Bridge, in the cities of Lachine and Saint-Pierre, in the province of Quebec, constitutes a yard track, siding, spur, or other track auxiliary to a railway line.
File No. R 8150/002-2
On August 17, 1999, the St. Lawrence & Hudson Railway Company Limited (hereinafter SL&H) filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) a request for a determination as set out in the title.
Pursuant to subsection 29(1) of the Canada Transportation Act (hereinafter the CTA), the Agency is required to make its decision no later than 120 days after the application is received unless the parties agree to an extension. In this case, the parties have agreed to an extension of the deadline to February 29, 2000.
The issue to be addressed is whether the subject trackage constitutes a yard track, siding, spur, or other track auxiliary to a railway line, pursuant to subsection 140(2) of the CTA.
In the event that the Agency determines that the trackage constitutes a yard track, siding, spur, or other track auxiliary to a railway line, SL&H may discontinue its operation without being subject to the requirements of sections 141 to 146 of the CTA. These sections set out the process that railway companies must follow when discontinuing the operation of railway lines that are not yard tracks, spurs, sidings or auxiliary trackage.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
In its letter dated August 17, 1999, SL&H provides condition and operation information on the subject trackage, and requests a determination pursuant to subsection 140(2) of the CTA.
In its letter dated July 20, 1999, Ville de Saint-Pierre indicates that it has no objection to a determination by the Agency that the said trackage constitutes a yard track, siding, spur or other track auxiliary to a railway line pursuant to subsection 140(2) of the CTA.
By letter dated December 13, 1999, Ville de Lachine submitted Resolution No. 99-C-0673 indicating its objection to the proposal made by SL&H.
On January 12, 2000, the Agency requested Ville de Lachine to indicate which industries are currently being served in that sector and provide letters confirming that they object to the discontinuance of the services. The Agency also requested Ville de Lachine to clarify its statement that the discontinuance of this trackage would definitely prevent the discontinuance of another segment located in a residential area.
In response to the Agency's request, Ville de Lachine submits that:
- this sector is currently served by two lines, the SL&H line and the Canadian National Railway Company (hereinafter CN) line. These lines do not interconnect and do not serve the same customers.
- the long-term urban development calls for a linear park on the abandoned CN right of way. Therefore, Ville de Lachine would prefer to have the existing CN trackage removed in order to allow for an extension of its linear park network. The removal of SL&H's North Bank Branch would prevent this from happening as the North Bank Branch is the only alternative for industries on the CN line which would need to be served by at least one railway company.
- the removal of the subject trackage would hinder its plans for the future development of a rail passenger shuttle service between the Lachine Locks and the Port of Montréal.
In its reply dated January 31, 2000, SL&H states that no customers adjacent to the trackage would be impacted by this application, that there are no sidings connecting to this trackage and that it is unaware of any potential demand for freight service from firms located adjacent to the line.
With respect to Ville de Lachine's preference to extend its linear park network, SL& H submits that:
- there is no mechanism in place which would allow the transfer of CN's customers from CN's trackage to SL&H's trackage and, in turn, allow the removal of CN's trackage in order to extend the linear park network.
- the subject trackage is not needed to allow the alternative routing requested by Ville de Lachine.
- this issue is separate and distinct from the application at hand and if Ville de Lachine wishes to advance a proposal for an alternative routing that all parties could support, an alternative routing arrangement could be made.
In response to Ville de Lachine's second objection that the removal of this trackage would hinder plans for future development of a rail passenger shuttle service adjacent to the Lachine Canal, SL&H states that:
- it contacted Ville de Lachine in August 1999 and, at that time, the City provided no indication that a shuttle service study was underway.
- it appears that the proposed route for this shuttle service is already severed and track material has been removed at various locations.
- nothing prevents Ville de Lachine, Parks Canada or other interested parties from presenting a proposal to acquire SL&H's interests in the corridor.
SL&H maintains that the information presented by Ville de Lachine in no way demonstrates a need for continued SL&H service on the North Bank Branch and that, with respect to its common carrier obligations, there is no further requirement for the line.
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The Agency has considered all of the submissions presented by the parties.
The Agency notes that Ville de Lachine did clarify its statement that the discontinuance of this trackage would definitely prevent the discontinuance of another segment located in a residential area; however, Ville de Lachine did not provide evidence that any industry objects to the removal of the line or that any customers require continued service.
The Agency also notes that Ville de Lachine's objections relate to its preference to maintain the right of way in order to extend its linear park network, and to preserve the corridor for a possible rail passenger shuttle service between the Lachine Locks and the Port of Montréal.
Subsection 140(2) of the CTA provides that the Agency may determine, as a question of fact, what constitutes a yard track, siding, or spur, or other track auxiliary to a railway line. This can be demonstrated by providing evidence on conditions and operation of the trackage which would assist the Agency in its determination.
As a question of fact, the North Bank Branch constitutes trackage of only 0.64 miles in length, connected at mileage 0.30 of the line to the Dominion Bridge with headblock at mileage 43.26 Adirondack Subdivision. The track consists of 100 pound rail in good condition on ballast and ties in poor condition. It represents the remaining portion of a line which once connected to the CN West Side Canal Bank track. CN track has since been removed. There are no sidings connected to the North Bank Branch and no active railway customers located on the line. Furthermore, as noted above, no evidence has been provided to the Agency that customers require continued rail service.
A determination pursuant to subsection 140(2) of the CTA does not prevent Ville de Lachine from entering into negotiations with SL&H on the future use of the corridor. Therefore, Ville de Lachine's submissions with respect to the potential alternate use of the line are not relevant to the Agency's determination.
The Agency is sensitive to community needs and future plans. However, on the basis of the evidence provided and as a question of fact, the Agency finds that the North Bank Branch is only a short stub track which serves no customers and is auxiliary to SL&H operations.
In light of the above, the Agency, pursuant to subsection 140(2) of the CTA, determines that the North Bank Branch from mileage 0.0 to mileage 0.64 constitutes a spur and, consequently, is not subject to the requirements of Division V of the CTA, Transferring and Discontinuing the Operation of Railway Lines.