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Barrie-Collingwood rail line to be decommissioned


COLLINGWOOD - It's the end of the line for the Barrie-Collingwood Railway.

Collingwood councillors have voted to discontinue the service as of July 15.

On Monday, councillors directed staff to begin the abandonment process of the line - specified under federal legislation - and begin investigating how much the municipality could get from selling the rails.

Council had decided during budget talks earlier this year to discontinue the service, after councillors were informed the Collingwood end of the line was slated to lose about $425,000 in 2011.

In 2008, the railway cost taxpayers $200,000 to operate.

Collingwood's chief administrative officer, Kim Wingrove, said some of the heavier-gauge rail could be 're-purposed' and sold for other rail services. Most of the rail, however, is of a lighter gauge, though still has significant value for scrap.

It was noted the move to decommission the line at this point - several months ahead of schedule - was to facilitate upgrades on the Poplar Sideroad, south of Collingwood. Decommissioning the rail now will allow the municipality to level out the section where the rail crosses the road.

The municipality will still own the corridor to Utopia.

Collingwood Coun. Dale West said if there was ever an intention to run passenger service in the future, the rails would be required to be torn up regardless as the current rails are not able to accommodate speeds greater than 10 kilometres per hour.

The corridor is also used for the Alliston-to-Collingwood water pipeline.

Wingrove said the three users at this end of the line - Canadian Mist, Amaizeingly Green and F.S. Partners in Stayner - have been advised that council would be considered decommissioning. Wingrove said all three industries are "fine" with the early termination.

Canadian Mist was using the rail service to ship out product, while Amaizeingly Green only used the line sporadically.

The municipality, in partnership with the City of Barrie, bought the former Meaford subdivision from CN in 1998, after the company announced it was initiating abandonment proceedings. The municipalities hired Cando Contracting, a short-line rail operator based in Manitoba.

The line was first built in 1855.

Passenger service was discontinued in 1963.

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