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What to do with 100,000 metres of steel rail, ties and a grafitti-covered boxcar

A boxcar is just one of the things CN Rail is obligated to remove under the terms of the recent rail corridor purchase.
June 05, 2015 - 2:33 PM

KELOWNA - Now that the CN Rail corridor purchase is complete, there’s the small matter of removing about 100 kilometres worth of steel rail, railway ties, flashing lights and signs, and some contaminated soil sites. Oh, and one graffiti covered boxcar.

Fortunately for the Okanagan communities that just ponied up $50 million in cash and in kind for the abandoned railway line, it’s not their problem.

“CN has responsibility for remediation on the entire corridor,” says Doug Gilchrist, the City of Kelowna planning director who leads the team handling the sale. “They are obligated to remediate to industrial standards under the Canadian Environmental Standards Act.”

That includes removing the boxcar and all that steel but also means dealing with contaminated soil sites identified in a consultant’s report.

“We were quite pleased with the report. There are some areas that have to be remediated but no significant concerns. Nothing that would be a major roadblock to the deal,” Gilchrist says.

He could not identify where the contaminated sites are but said most would lie within the industrial areas of the communities the corridor passes through, which includes Kelowna and Lake Country. “Typically on any railway, it’s where the trains stop and load that are the areas of concern.”

CN Rail has not yet responded to a request for an interview about the remediation plan.

Trains ran over the 47.5-kilometre corridor since 1925, ending in 2013 when Kelowna Pacific Railway declared bankruptcy and CN Rail put the corridor up for sale.

Gilchrist says the acquisition team expects to receive the plan from CN Rail some time in the next few weeks.

“I think they’ve been focused on completing the transaction. The timeline identified in the agreement for remediation was roughly a year but there are some conditions on that. They have to provide proof to the municipalities and they have a contractual obligation to follow that through."

Gilchrist says the rail line itself is still useable by trains, except for one level crossing, and CN will be using a special train unit that picks up both rail and railway ties during the removal. Other infrastructure will be removed by CN Rail crews.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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