• CN to sell 850 miles of lines in the Upper Midwest

  • Discussion relating to the Canadian National, past and present. Also includes discussion of Illinois Central and Grand Trunk Western and other subsidiary roads (including Bessemer & Lake Erie and the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway). Official site: WWW.CN.CA
Discussion relating to the Canadian National, past and present. Also includes discussion of Illinois Central and Grand Trunk Western and other subsidiary roads (including Bessemer & Lake Erie and the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway). Official site: WWW.CN.CA

Moderators: Komachi, Ken V

  by Shortline614
 
https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2 ... an-ontario From Trains Magazine (It's behind a paywall.)

CN wants to sell 850 miles of mostly ex-Wisconsin Central track in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. They did not say which specific lines will be offered. CN wants all the trackage sold in one year.

The line sales are certainly a part of a plan to shore up CN's finances, as they lost 450$ this quarter, mostly due to the COVID economic downturn.

However, I wonder if CN needs cash in order to invest in other acquisitions? They have been trying to acquire CSX's Montreal-Syracuse line. They also reportedly put out a bid for the CMQ when it was up for sale. The philosophy being: "Let's shed the lines we own but don't have interest in, so that we can acquire lines that we do have interest in that we don't own."

I'd expect all the Upper Peninsula Lines, and the former Algoma Central Railroad to go. I think the line to Arcadia, Wisconsin will be safe due to intermodal.
  by eolesen
 
Will be interesting to see if the WisDOT picks up any of the Wisconsin trackage for E&LS or maybe WSOR to operate. That's been discussed in other forums for a while.
  by mtuandrew
 
I could definitely see E&LS and LS&I being asked to operate the northern Wisconsin and Michigan lines, and WSOR to take on the former GB&W. I also wonder if CN is considering shredding the ex-CC&P line to Omaha & Sioux City again.
  by Cowford
 
The line sales are certainly a part of a plan to shore up CN's finances, as they lost 450$ this quarter, mostly due to the COVID economic downturn.
CN did not report a loss. CN's net income was $540M, and that's after a one-time $486M charge on assets being marked for sale.
  by OldHeadRailroader
 
I've been waiting for this moment for 15 years, so glad many Wisconsin branch lines will be sold off to a shortline operator! The Bradley and Ashland Subs will rise again under G&W, Watco, Progressive Rail or E&LS ownership, like when WC ran 100 car trains Ashland southward into Prentice and Wausau! You can bet they will be bidding on it. Maybe the Rhinelander roundhouse will become a repair facility for the new operator, we can always dream! Not sure why CN would want to keep the Dresser, Manitowoc and Neenah-Green Bay north lines into the UP, car loadings have been down for years under CN ownership and it's an under utilized secondary main backwater. No IM ramp in GB, ore traffic is way down, numerous lost business due to multiple rate increases in the CN era, why do they keep it when they would still get the cars at interchange anyway?! WC is coming back now reincarnated.
  by mtuandrew
 
Took a while for me to identify the lines in question, but CN did release a map:

Image

https://www.wxpr.org/post/cn-divest-sev ... ail-routes

I’m not impressed. No interchange possibilities with any other roads, excepting the West Bend and Saukville branches which realistically should be in the WSOR portfolio. No large traffic generators - the Michigan lines in particular look mighty barren.

This looks like CN building a case to abandon half these miles. Check out the Wisconsin State Railroad Map and you’ll see discontinuance or out-of-service orders on these segments:
  • Marengo-White Pine
  • Ashland-Park Falls
  • Tony-Prentice
  • Rhinelander-Goodman
  • Manawa-New London
And I bet if Munising-Newberry isn’t under a discontinuance order, it could be soon.

Most of these lines could have something of a future (though Ironwood Junction-White Pine Mine is almost certainly dead permanently), but not unless CN relents and allows third-party interchange.
  by Shortline614
 
And the winner is... WATCO!

From Trains Magazine:
MONTREAL — Watco will buy 650 miles of branch lines in Wisconsin and Michigan from Canadian National, along with 250 miles of the company’s Soo Subdivision in Ontario, the companies announced today.


Link to article: https://www.trains.com/trn/watco-purcha ... o-from-cn/

Link to the press release: https://www.cn.ca/en/news/2021/03/cn-an ... orthern-o/

650 miles in the US, 250 in Canada including the former Algoma Central. WATCO already owns the Wisconsin Southern, which operates 778 miles, 180 of which are trackage rights. In total 1678 miles. Quite impressive!