Ottawa Central Railway Keeping Ottawa 'On Track'



    OTTAWA, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - This weekend, the Ottawa Central Railway hosted
the beloved children's character, Thomas the Tank Engine, allowing children
and adults alike to ride aboard the smiling locomotive. It was just another
example of how Ottawa Central Railway is remaining involved in the community.
    Year after year, the railway has opened its doors to the general public
to view historical and modern railcars side-by-side, as well as the operations
of one of Ontario's short line railways.
    Ottawa Central Railway also plays a part in the Computers for Schools
program, moving refurbished computers along the line, which are then donated
to schools, libraries and not-for-profit organizations across Canada.
    With safety in mind, the railway has also hosted presentations on
dangerous goods training for local emergency responders in order to quickly
assess risks, protect the public, and mitigate any damage in the event of an
incident involving dangerous goods.
    But even with all these examples, the community contribution and ongoing
presentations are just one element of how the railway has been involved in
Ottawa since it began its operations in 1998.
    Recently, the railway's general manager, James Allen, contributed to the
Mayor of Ottawa's Task Force on Transportation, suggesting the use of existing
infrastructure to help with public transit. In addition, the report suggested
that rail freight traffic over the Ottawa River would help reduce truck
volumes on downtown roads.
    According to the report, the Forest Engineering Research Institute of
Canada has expressed interest in the project and also confirmed the interest
of high-volume shippers who see the benefits of a rail link between Ottawa and
Gatineau.
    Rail, for shippers, is much more cost-effective than other modes of
transportation. It can also play a key role in relieving traffic congestion
and greenhouse gas emissions in the region.
    In fact, the addition of just one freight or passenger train removes the
equivalent of up to 280 trucks, or 1,000 cars. In addition, one train that
moves 1,000 kilometres will save 4,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions
compared to moving those goods by truck.
    But the importance of Ottawa Central Railway extends beyond the city
limits of Ottawa. The railway owns 95 miles of mainline between Pembroke and
Ottawa, operates 207 miles of railway, and carries a number of different
commodities, including newsprint, salt, forest products, wire rod, and scrap
metal.
    It also operates a portion of its line in Quebec, where the province of
Quebec, the federal government, and the short line railways recently announced
a $75 million investment partnership to restore and upgrade short line
infrastructure. As part of the investment, Ottawa Central Railway will be
upgrading the load capacity of its track over a distance of 36 kilometres
between Pontiac and Portage-du-Fort.
    For the railway, this partnership will ensure that shippers are able to
move more commodities using fewer railcars. It also means an increase in
efficiency, and many shippers have already acknowledged the significant cost
benefits of utilizing rail.
    Two of the railway's largest shippers, Smurfit Stone and Ivaco, have both
spoken highly of the railway. Both companies, which together represent 75 per
cent of Ottawa Central Railway's yearly business, have stated that trucking
inbound and outbound materials would increase their transportation costs by 30
to 40 per cent.
    While these are significant numbers for both businesses, it is a similar
story told across Ontario. Short line railways across Ontario have a proud and
prominent role to play in building and growing the Ontario economy, said
Cliff Mackay, president and chief executive officer of the Railway Association
of Canada.
    Short line railways originate more than 140,000 carloads of freight
traffic each and every year, or the equivalent of 500,000 truckloads moving on
area highways. These are raw materials and good manufactured in Ontario, which
are then moved and interchanged with long-haul, high-volume railways that
transport to markets in the United States, Asia and Europe.
    With the addition of Class 1 railways, more than 40 per cent of Ontario's
goods each year are moved by rail, and those same railways employ more than
10,000 people and support tens of thousands of jobs indirectly. In addition,
80 per cent of Canada-U.S. domestic and international rail traffic passes
through Ontario's borders.
    "Ontario, as home to 13 short line and regional railways connecting
Ontario's small and medium-sized communities to major market throughout North
America and around the world, can ensure green economic growth through
supporting these railways," said Mackay. "They have a strong and vibrant role
to play in the future of Ontario's economy and in ensuring sustainable, green
growth."


    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: Ken Lancastle, Public Affairs Officer, Railway
Association of Canada, (613) 295-4740, kenl@railcan.ca

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