Rail service has serious infrastructure issues

Monte Sonnenberg

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer


Norfolk County is on the verge of losing the last vestiges of its railroad system.

Norfolk Mayor Dennis Travale received notice Friday that Trillium Railway – also known as the St. Thomas & Eastern Railway – will cease local operations Dec. 20.

“The reason I was given was that Trillium Railway can not afford repairs to its bridges and trestles,” Travale said Saturday afternoon.

Travale has taken up the pending closure with colleagues in Oxford, Elgin, Middlesex and St. Thomas. Through Norfolk’s partnerships in the South Central Ontario Region (SCOR) alliance, Travale intends to see if provincial and federal assistance is available to keep the Trillium line operating.

Heavy industries have alternatives to rail transport, but they are more expensive and have direct impacts on municipal budgets.

“Rail is the cheapest of course,” Travale said. “If we have more trucks on the road, they will take a beating. So there will be a ripple effect.”

If the closure proceeds, it will force a number of industries in west Norfolk, Tillsonburg and Aylmer to make alternative arrangements for their transportation.

Trillium clients include Cargill AgHorizons and Norfolk FS in Courtland, the Growmark fertilizer plant in Delhi, and Integrated Grain Processors Co-operative’s ethanol plant in Aylmer. Tillsonburg businesses include Johnson Controls, Wellmaster Pipe & Supply, Kissner Group, International Beams, and Future Transfer Company.

Goods carried on the rail line include fertilizer, grain, salt, ethanol, lubricating oil, forest products, pipes and chemicals.

The Trillium system uses rail lines that were established by the Great Western Railway in 1873. The Trillium network consists of 33.6 miles of railway between Delhi and St. Thomas. It provides access to the North American market through interchanges maintained by the Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Calls have been placed to senior management at Trillium. Updates will be provided as they become available.

Monte Sonnenberg

519-426-3528 ext. 150

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