November 20, 2013 - 1:28 PM
VERNON - Those aren’t trains—but they are paving the way for the return of locomotives to the North Okanagan.
Canadian National is upgrading 97 miles of track between Kamloops and Lumby before resuming operations. CN took over the line after Kelowna Pacific Railway declared bankruptcy and abruptly halted its rail service in July.
Machines could be seen inching their way along the railway by Swan Lake Monday. Spokesperson for CN Emily Hamer says track upgrades and tie replacement are currently underway.
“Operations will resume as soon as possible,” Hamer said.
The temporary loss of rail in the North Okanagan has had a large impact on businesses.
CN will not be reopening the line between Vernon and Kelowna, something that has caused unrest for Lake Country and Kelowna companies.
CN has begun its discontinuance process for selling off the line, with first right of refusal being offered to the federal government Dec. 3. Parties interested in taking over the operation of the line have until Dec. 2 to submit an expression of interest.
Hamer couldn’t say if CN has been approached by anyone interested in acquiring the line.
“We won’t comment on discussions with interested parties,” she said.
In the event that service does not resume, a group of citizens is hoping to rally support for a rail trail along the corridor.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013