Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia rail line abandonment faces new regulations

The province has announced new regulations for companies that plan to abandon rail lines in Nova Scotia, three days before the American owner of a Cape Breton section of track can to apply to do just that.

Rules will affect length of time it takes to sell line or assets

U.S.-based Genesee & Wyoming can apply to abandon the Cape Breton section of its rail line on Friday. (CBC/Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith)

The province has announced new regulations for companies that plan to abandon rail lines in Nova Scotia, three days before the American owner of a Cape Breton section of track can apply to do just that.

Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan announced the details on Tuesday. He said the regulations are effective immediately and will have an impact on whatever action Genesee & Wyoming plans to take.    

On Friday, the company is free to apply to abandon the Cape Breton section of its line between Sydney and Truro.

If the company does so, the new regulations dictate that it is then required to offer the line for sale to private sector interests. If a potential buyer is found within 30 days, a period of six months would be allowed for negotiations to take place.

If there are no offers, the province could then make an offer of its own. However, if government is not interested, Genesee & Wyoming could begin the abandonment process as laid down in the new regulations.

'Full picture'

MacLellan said the company would be obligated to gather specific financial information related to ripping up the tracks and all associated costs.

"We have to have a full picture of the net salvage value which will be the costs of all removal, remediation, environmental cleanup, all those impacts that removing the rail would have," he said.

"Obviously that`s weighed against the overall value of the assets, which is predominantly the steel."

The minister added that taxpayers must be protected from any fallout caused by abandonment.

"We want to ensure that if abandonment is being followed that taxpayers aren't responsible for cleaning up and remediating."

MacLellan said if a line is abandoned, the regulations must ensure people who own land adjacent to the former railbed still have access to their properties.

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