Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin Central’

Watco to Take Over CN lines Jan. 29

January 26, 2022

Watco Company said it plans to assume control of several Canadian National branches in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario on Jan. 29.

Many of the branches were formerly operated by the Wisconsin Central, which CN acquired on Jan. 30, 2001.

All of the 142 miles of tackage in Michigan is located in the state’s upper peninsula and will be operated by Grand Elk Railroad, which already operates lines in the lower peninsula.

Grand Elk will base its operations in Newberry, Michigan, and use two GP38 locomotives. It will employ five workers.

In Wisconsin, the Fox Valley & Lake Superior will operate 329 miles of track, employ 27 and use eight locomotives, six SD40-2s and two GP40-3s.

In Ontario, Watco will operate on former Algoma Central track between Sault Ste. Marie and Oba.

Passengers excursion trains through the Agawa Canyon will be reinstated, the short line holding company said.

Watco Gets STB OK to Acquire Lines From CN

December 21, 2021

Short line operator Watco has gained approval by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to acquire hundreds of miles of former Wisconsin Central track in Ontario, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Watco plans to incorporate the track into its Grand Elk Railroad and a new railroad to be named Fox Valley & Lake Superior.

The track, which is being purchased from Canadian National, includes the former Algoma Central in Ontario and various branch lines in Michigan and Wisconsin once operated by WC.

Watco has indicated that it already has equipment and personnel in place to begin operating the routes once the acquisition gained regulatory approval.

The STB earlier this year had delayed the transaction after hearing concerns from some shippers. Those concerns have since been addressed, Watco officials said.

 “The Board received numerous comments supporting the transactions and numerous comments opposing it,” the STB wrote in a decision allowing the sale to go forth. “After careful consideration of all comments received, the Board finds that the issues raised do not demonstrate regulation is necessary to carry out the rail transportation policy and that it is appropriate to allow Watco to proceed with the exemption process.”

CN Wants STB to Move on Line Sales

October 12, 2021

Canadian National wants the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to allow it to complete its sale of various line in Michigan and Wisconsin before winter.

CN has proposed selling nearly 500 miles of the former Wisconsin Central to short line operator Watco.

The sale has been on hold since April after shippers, shipper groups and some elected officials expressed concerns about the sale.

Most of the lines are in Wisconsin but a few serve Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

An attorney for CN last week asked regulators to act on the sale, saying the railroads  “desire to complete the proposed line sale transactions prior to the onset of winter and snowfall that could disrupt the efficient start-up of Watco operations.”

Shippers Express Support for Watco Acquisition of CN Lines in Michigan, Wisconsin

April 17, 2021

Even as some shippers are raising concerns others have expressed support for the sale by Canadian National of several lines in Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan.

The lines, many of which were once operated by Wisconsin Central, are being acquired by short line operator Watco.

The transaction involves 650 miles of what CN described as light density routes. Watco hopes to begin operating the routes on June. 30.

A major shipper group, a current shipper, railroad associations in Wisconsin and Michigan, a county economic development agency, and a Wisconsin business group are urging the U.S. Surface Transportation board to approve the deal.

“Access to reliable rail service is critically important to the viability of our agriculture, timber, and manufacturing sectors in the states of Wisconsin and Michigan. Having a company like Watco operating these important branch line segments is a great move towards the future of rail transportation in these regions,” wrote Kurt Bauer, who leads Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s chamber of commerce and largest business association.

Rail consultant William Schauer, a former vice president of marketing at Wisconsin Central, wrote in a letter to the STB that “the Wisconsin Central is gone and will not be coming back.”

He said the former WC main line remains vital to CN as a link between Western Canada and Chicago.