Orangeville, Ontario, short line faces abandonment

Customers serve notice of plans to depart, spelling likely end of service on former CP line
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Ontario's 34-mile Orangeville Brampton Railway, owned by the Town of Orangeville, is facing abandonment after its customers said they intended to quit their contract with the line.
Stephen C. Host

ORANGEVILLE, Ontario — The Orangeville Brampton Railway, a 34-mile short line between Mississauga and Orangeville, is slated to be abandoned after the line’s customers gave notice of their intent to terminate their contract with the railway.

The Orangeville Banner newspaper reports the Orangeville Brampton Rail Access Group, which represents the customers, plan to end the contract with the railway, operated by GIO Rail Holdings’ Trillium Railway, on Dec. 31, 2021.

The town of Orangeville purchased the railway from Canadian Pacific on Sept. 29, 2000, and formed the Orangeville Railway Development Corp. to manage the operation. The initial operator, Cando Contracting, operated the line for 18 years. In addition to growing the business, it operated a successful tourist train, the Credit Valley Explorer, from 2004 to 2018. Trains, which traveled through the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, were often sold out.

Cando filed notice of its intent to quit operations in June 2018 and quickly ended both passenger and freight service. Trillium took over the contract in July 2018 and currently offers freight service on Tuesdays and Fridays with a single leased GMTX SW1500. Trillium never re-started passenger operations.

The railroad only ships about 500 carloads per year, and recently lost one major shipper. Only five customers remain, leaving little prospect another company will take over.

Town of Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown has campaigned on getting rid of the taxpayer burden of the railway, to the tune of C$450,000 per year. Brown says the city is aware of the Shortline Railways Act — which will require the railway to be offered for sale for continued operations; if there are no takers, it is then offered to other municipalities or the province for land banking before it can be discontinued as a railway and sold off as real estate. The Mayor says the city is considering its options with regard to the sale and has not yet begun the discontinuance process.

The railway interchanges with the Canadian Pacific Railway in Streetsville, Ont.

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