Manitoba First Nations group to buy railway, Churchill port on Hudson’s Bay

December 21, 2015

Eric Atkins – RAILWAY INDUSTRY REPORTER, The Globe and Mail

A group of Manitoba’s First Nations plans to buy the Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill from Denver-based OmniTrax Canada for an undisclosed amount.Website Insert Cars and Financing copy

OmniTrax said on Friday that it has accepted a letter of intent from the group for the purchase of its assets in Manitoba, and will work with the purchasers for “a number of years” to ensure a smooth transition in ownership of the railway that runs between the port and The Pas, Man.

Privately held OmniTrax Inc., which owns several short lines in North America, bought the 820-kilometre railway in 1997 for $11-million after the privatization of Canadian National Railway Ltd. It assumed ownership of the deep water Churchill port for $10. The deal announced on Friday includes a fuel tank operation that services the airport.

“It was always the ownership’s intent to sell it back to Canadian ownership at some point in time,” said Merv Tweed, president of OmniTrax Canada. “We’ve spent a lot of effort on the rail and on the port, spent a lot of money on upgrades and we think it’s a good time to move forward with that.”

Mr. Tweed said details on the buyers, which includes a growing group of First Nations, will become available after the 45-day due diligence period. “The understanding is this is beneficial for both [sides]. It’s a rail that serves all of their communities,” said Mr. Tweed, who says he will will stay on to work with the new owners.

The future of the unprofitable railway and port were cast in doubt with the 2012 move by the federal government to end the wheat-trading monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board, which was by far the biggest customer for the port.

Click here to read the full story.

Previous post:

Next post: