Workers begin salvaging Canadian Pacific’s Ottawa Valley line

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RENFREW, Ont. — A contractor has begun salvaging an unused piece of Canadian Pacific’s original transcontinental main line, the Renfrew Mercury has reported. The rails between Renfrew and Pembroke, Ont., 25 miles, will be removed this year, with the rest of the line between Mattawa and Smiths Falls, Ont., 140 miles, slated for removal in subsequent years.

CP predecessor Canadian Central built the line in 1872, and it became part of CP’s transcontinental link. Later, CP constructed a second route between Smiths Falls and Sudbury, Ont., via Toronto. In 1996, it leased the original route through Pembroke to RaiLink Canada, which operated it as the Ottawa Valley Railway between Smiths Falls and Sudbury. CP overhead trains continued to operate under a haulage rights agreement.

In late 2009, CP reached an agreement with RaiLink successor RailAmerica to terminate the line’s lease early. Local traffic east of Mattawa, Ont., had dwindled, and CP was able to reroute its overhead trains via Toronto. Though local officials sought other buyers for the line, in the end, no credible proposals emerged.

CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said CP “had to make a decision that is strictly a business decision.”
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