News Release, Industry will suffer if railway removal continues in the upper Ottawa valley

Pontiac and Renfrew County rail and transportation advocate
Transport Pontiac-Renfrew has issued an urgent request
 to CN for a temporary moratorium on rail removal.
(Campbell’s Bay, QC April 18, 2013)  Another nail in the railway coffin is evident in the Upper Ottawa Valley despite intense objection from local business, as rail service in the area continues a slow and painful death.

Canadian National Railway (TSE:CNR) has begun rail lifting preparations around Pembroke then heading in a south-easterly direction to Portage du Fort, Quebec.  Non-disclosure-agreement discussions are currently underway for another section of the line east from Portage du Fort to the bridge at Fitzroy Harbour.

Despite industry struggling to ramp up and get laid off staff back to work, business interests relying on rail may quickly encounter the unforeseen obstacle of a loss of a valued shipping lane.  Pemboke area fibre board plant, ATC Pembroke Inc. is planning to re-open after a four year recession-related shutdown.

“In order for us to re-establish production and once again contribute to the community by providing jobs and economic growth, the rail is essential for the Pembroke plant,” says ATC president, Fito Salman in a prepared statement to TPR. “These actions from CN rail will have disastrous consequences in our effort to restart the Pembroke Mill.”

From 1998 to 2008, the line was operated by Ottawa Central Railway and grew the volume from 4,000 carloads a year to approximately 16,000 by 2008.  The line was sold back to CN in late 2008, and the subsequent recession contributed heavily to a drop in shipping to and from the region. With indications of general industry rejuvenation underway, many large volume shippers need the option of rail to move product efficiently and cost-effectively. 

Seeing increasing concern from area business, on April 16, TPR issued an urgent but temporary moratorium to CN to halt rail removal from Pembroke to Portage du Fort. TPR is requesting a stoppage for a minimum of 90 days.   The document was sent to CN president and CEO Claude Mongeau, a number of politicians and to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

TPR Co-Chair Terry Gibeau says if CN issues a temporary moratorium on rail lifting, it  would be “major leap of goodwill in the Upper Ottawa Valley.”  “TPR’s Letter to CN 16 April 13” can be viewed online at 

Rail has been disappearing at an alarming rate in eastern Ontario.  In 2011-12 Canadian Pacific Railway (TSE:CP) quietly removed the Ottawa area portion of its storied former transcontinental line from Smiths Falls to Mattawa via Renfrew and Pembroke.


For further information, contact

Terry Gibeau, Co-Chair
Transport Pontiac-Renfrew
613-623-7874; email: