October 2 marked the latest milestone for the shortline Long Creek Railroad (LCRR), as the 66-kilometre rail line, which runs from Estevan to Tribune, celebrated its grand opening.
The rail line has been operating since late August, said president Glenn Pederson. Business has been steadily increasing since that time. Their longest train has been about 15 rail cars.
“Up 'till now, it's all been crude oil,” said Pederson. “I believe we have 14 cars of grain showing up at the end of the month.”
He expects that oil will continue to account for as much as 75 per cent of their business. An oil transloading facility has been constructed in the former community of Southall; Southall was the site of the rail line's grand opening ceremonies.
Two full-time employees and two part-time employees currently work for the organization.
Pederson said the process in creating the LCRR started in 2005, when CP Rail announced it was taking the Bromhead line from Estevan to Tribune out of service. It wasn't until February of 2011 that CP Rail and the LCRR agreed on a purchase price. The deal was to be completed in the summer of 2011, but last year's flood delayed those plans, because there were concerns about damage to the track and the bridges.
There were a couple minor issues with the tracks, Pederson said, but the deal was finalized this past March. The oil transloading site was constructed in the summer.
The LCRR is the 13th short-line railroad in the province. The provincial government provided Long Creek Railroad with an $800,000, interest-free loan to assist with purchasing the rail line from CP Rail. The province has supported the purchase of short line railways by community groups, local stakeholders and local governments in the past.