Starting today, March 29, any provincial railway operator must follow a rigorous process before abandoning a rail line.
Amendments to the Railways Act were introduced in the fall of 2014 to help ensure the full implications of discontinuing or abandoning a railway are well understood before action is taken.
The regulations address public concerns related to safety, access and the environment, including plans for remediation, if necessary.
The regulations address:
— notification that requires the railway to notify the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal minister, municipalities and the public offering the line for sale to a person, railway company, province or municipality
— information the railway is required to provide the province that is relevant to the potential sale of the rail line
— how the sale price of the railway was determined
— access if the rail line is sold to another railway company by establishing a way for continued management of rail crossings so adjacent landowners have access
— removal where there is no interest by another party to obtain the railway line
— liability insurance that requires the railway to provide a performance bond and/or proof of insurance coverage if the railway intends to retain its lands or does not immediately remove the infrastructure.
Anyone interested in acquiring the rail line must let the railway know within 30 days of the advertisement that outlines the railway’s intention to abandon the line.
If there are no offers from an interested person or company, or they are unable to negotiate an agreement, the province and municipalities can make an offer.
If there is no one interested in acquiring the rail line, including the province and municipalities, then the railway can apply to abandon the rail line.
The railway must submit an abandonment plan to the minister. The plan must describe the work that will be done to remove the track, who is doing the work, and make sure there is insurance coverage. If needed, the minister can force the railway to meet additional requirements to protect the public.