Decision No. 505-R-1988

December 29, 1988

December 29, 1988

IN THE MATTER OF the application by Canadian Pacific Limited for authority to abandon the operation of the Carleton Place Subdivision between Nepean (Mileage 9.0) and Carleton Place (Mileage 28.1), a total distance of 19.1 miles in the Province of Ontario.

File No. 39309.68


On April 27, 1981 Canadian Pacific Limited (hereinafter CP) applied, pursuant to Section 253 of the Railway Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. R-3, to the Canadian Transport Commission (hereinafter CTC) for authority to abandon the operation of the Carleton Place Subdivision from Nepean (Mileage 9.0) to Carleton Place (Mileage 28.1), a total distance of 19.1 miles, in the Province of Ontario.

On June 3, 1985 the Railway Transport Committee (hereinafter RTC) of the CTC issued Order No. R-38191 which ordered that the operation of the line was to be continued.

This application has not been reconsidered in the past three years. With the proclamation January 1, 1988 of the National Transportation Act, 1987, S.C. 1987, c. 34. (hereinafter the NTA, 1987) this application must now be reconsidered, pursuant to sections 171(5) and 171(6) of the NTA, 1987.


A track from Ottawa to Carleton Place was built by the Canada Central Railway Company, opened to traffic in 1870 and became part of the Canadian Pacific system when CP took over the Canada Central Railway Company in 1881.

The track between mile points 1.4 and 8.1 was ordered abandoned in 1967 by the Board of Transport Commissioners Order No. 125356; trackage from mile point 0.84 to 1.4 was abandoned in 1970 by Order No. R-9675 of the RTC of the CTC.


A map of the area is attached. The Carleton Place Subdivision is located in and to the west of Ottawa, Ontario. The subdivision commences at Bells Junction at mile 7.5 in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean and runs westward to a point near Carleton Place, (Mileage 28.1) where it connects with the CP Chalk River Subdivision. The stations located on the line are Stittsville, Ashton and Carleton Place.


Generally, the track can be described as in good condition. All of the rail is 100 lbs type of which approximately 18.7 miles were rolled and laid in 1975. The remainder of the rail was rolled in 1929 and laid in 1930. The ties are treated softwood and are in fair condition. The ballast is crushed rock. The drainage is regarded as adequate.

The permissible speed is restricted to a maximum of 75 miles per hour for passenger trains and 45 miles per hour for freight train operations.


VIA Rail Canada Inc. (hereinafter VIA) operates a passenger train service daily on this Subdivision. Its train "The Canadian" uses this branch line as part of its transcontinental route. The train has scheduled stops once each day westbound and eastbound at Ottawa and Carleton Place.

In contrast, freight train service is only available "as and when required" due to the absence of demand for this service.


Carload traffic has been nearly non-existent over the past four years, as the next table illustrates.

1984 22 0 0
1985 2 0 2
1986 2 0 2
1987 0 0 0


Where an application is opposed under section 161, the Agency in accordance with section 163 of the NTA, 1987 must issue a statement of the actual loss incurred in respect of the subject branch line operation. The Agency issued this statement December 12, 1988.

The actual losses as determined by the Agency, pursuant to the provisions of the Railway Costing Regulations and section 157 of the NTA, 1987 for the years 1985 through 1987 are shown in the following table.

Year Total Costs Revenues Actual Losses
1985Note 1 $304,161 $6,301 $297,860
1986Note 1 $489,918 $5,609 $484,309
1987Note 1 $241,063 $1,649 $239,414


Provincial Highway Nos. 5, 7, 15 and 417 provide east-west access in the area of the Subdivision. Provincial Highway No. 29 runs in a north-south direction intersecting with Highway No. 7 near Carleton Place. These highways normally have no freight restrictions other than temporary interruptions caused by snow conditions.

There are many trucking firms licensed to serve this area.

Alternative rail freight service for Carleton Place is available in Carleton Place via the CP Chalk River Subdivision. Alternative rail service for Stittsville is available via the CP line in Carleton Place or through both CN and CP tracks in Nepean.


A Notice of reconsideration was issued October 7, 1988, inviting submissions from interested parties. Seven people wrote the Agency in reply to this notice.

Mr. P. Knowles, Town Engineer for Carleton Place, submitted two letters whereby the Town registered its opposition. The opposition was based on the belief that rail service between Ottawa and Carleton Place was important to the Town. Further, the Town suggested that CP investigate the feasibility of setting up a commuter passenger train service.

G. Brown, Clerk for the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, wrote to advise that the regional council does not oppose CP's application but qualified this neutral position as being dependent upon VIA maintaining its "Canadian" passenger service to the Region of Ottawa-Carleton and that the Agency extend to this regional municipality the right of first refusal should CP wish to dispose of the right-of-way.

Mr. N. McCallum, representing the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, stated in his letter that the Government of Ontario has no opposition to the CP abandonment provided that VIA had full opportunity to assess its needs and possible alternatives including the acquisition of the branch line.

Mr. J. D. Houston of Almonte informed the Agency that Almonte was supporting the Town of Carleton Place's opposition to the proposed abandonment, but stated no reason.

Ms. Y. L. Robert, Treasurer for the Town of Beckwith, suggested only that CP may wish to investigate the feasibility of establishing a commuter train operation from Ottawa to Carleton Place. She did not state whether or not Beckwith was opposed to the application.

Mr. P. Dick, M.P. Lanark-Renfrew-Carleton, wrote to state his opposition to the CP application to abandon operations, stating as grounds that the main concern of everyone involved should be to ensure that the present passenger service is maintained on the existing track.

Mr. R. J. Timmers wrote as representative for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees. He stated that the Brotherhood opposes the CP application because the abandonment might affect the passenger train service and to avoid this impact they believe the branch line is required in the public interest. He also requested a public hearing if the Agency first "received a number of groups opposed to this application."

On December 12, 1988, the Agency issued a notice of actual loss due to CP operations on the branch line and invited comments in the matter. No replies were submitted.


The existence of VIA operations on this branch line has resulted in several interveners coming forward to oppose the CP application. The majority of these submissions opposed the abandonment of passenger services and did not mention the CP operation. The CP application is limited to a request for authorization to abandon only its operations along the branch line in question. It should be emphasized that VIA alone, and not CP, has responsibility for passenger rail services. Further, the Railway Act and the NTA, 1987 contain provisions which control the consideration of applications for the abandonment of passenger rail services. This would be done when required through an Agency process separate from the one in progress here.

The Agency decision herein must deal only with the matter of the CP application, and in this matter it is important to recognize that the Agency has not received any submissions of opposition to the abandonment of the CP freight operations. It is also noted that alternative transportation services do exist in the region, as well as carriers and facilities which can be employed to serve the needs of shippers that may arise in the future and which are as yet unforeseen.


Section 164 of the NTA, 1987 requires the Agency, as its first consideration, to determine if the line is economic or uneconomic and further whether there is a reasonable probability of the branch line becoming economic in the foreseeable future.

The Agency has determined, on the evidence submitted, that the branch line is uneconomic. The branch line has incurred significant losses in recent years; these losses averaged well over a quarter million dollars a year. Further, traffic had declined to nothing as of 1987 and there is no evidence that would indicate any future reversal of this trend much less an increase in revenue generating freight traffic to a point where the line would become economic in the foreseeable future. Thus, the Agency determines that the line is uneconomic and that there is no reasonable probability of the line becoming economic in the foreseeable future.

Accordingly, in compliance with subsection 165(1) of the NTA, 1987, the Agency must conclude that the operation of the Carleton Place Subdivision from Nepean (Mileage 9.0) to Carleton Place (Mileage 28.1), must be abandoned.

Section 168 of the NTA, 1987 governs the time limits within which the Agency must order the abandonment of the operation of a branch line. Paragraph 168(1)(a) applies in cases where a passenger service also exists on the branch line; it states as follows:

(1) Where the Agency makes an order under section 162, 165, 166 or 175 for the abandonment of the operation of a branch line or segment thereof, it shall fix

(a) the date that is one year after the date of the order as the date for the abandonment, where VIA Rail Canada Inc. operates a passenger service on the branch line or segment or the branch line or segment is identified in a plan of VIA Rail Canada Inc., approved by the Governor in Council, for the proposed development or expansion of its passenger service as being required for the implementation of the plan.

The Agency determines that Canadian Pacific Limited must be authorized to abandon its operation of the Carleton Place Subdivision twelve (12) months from the date of an order to this effect. An Order will issue accordingly.


Note 1

based on a preliminary submission by the Applicant.

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