Huron Central Railway to extend operations until end of June

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Company, province and federal government to work on lasting deal to save railways and keep jobs, Sault Romano MP says

A sigh of relief for Huron Central Railway (HCRY) workers and a break for Sault’s economy, at least for now.

Genesee & Wyoming Canada (GWCI), which owns HCRY (commonly known as “UNHCR”), announced Friday afternoon that it has agreed to extend its previously announced plan to cease HCR operations from December 18, 2020 to June 30, 2020. 2021.

The HCR freight line connects Sault to Sudbury, its operations being critical to local industries like Algoma Steel and others.

In September, Genesee & Wyoming said it needed $ 44 million from the federal and Ontario governments to modernize the line, with Dec. 18 originally being the line’s last day of operation if that financial assistance fails.

“We are very pleased that the Huron Central Railway has agreed to extend its operations for an additional six months until June 30, 2021, as we in the provincial government continue to work with HCRY and the federal government to review a recent proposal. which they (HCRY) have provided to us and we hope we have more news to share in the coming weeks, ”Sault MP Ross Romano said, speaking to SooToday on Friday afternoon.

“That’s good news at this point… over 40 people who have jobs in Sault Ste. Marie working for HCRY is said to have lost her job by the end of next week.

“They will continue to work with our government as well as with the federal government… we will work with HCRY to review their proposal and we hope to learn more in the coming weeks,” Romano said, adding news. The company’s agreement to expand its business came on Friday afternoon, just a day after he and Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney told local media the province was aware of the urgency of the situation and was working to a solution.

Details of the HCRY proposal were not immediately available, but Romano said that “the HCRY proposal has moved forward, and there is a series of them, and the idea of ​​the proposals, although they include requests for money, they aim to do the operation. sustainable for the future. ”

A committee of local stakeholders worked to keep UNHCR operations alive.

“I have been meeting with the task force regularly since before February on a weekly basis… we meet every week, virtually, by phone to monitor the condition and situation,” said Romano.

“Since the announcement on August 31 of our difficult decision to cease HCRY activities, we have engaged in regular discussions with the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada with the aim of avoiding this outcome. Over the past two weeks, these negotiations have intensified as our government partners explore an agreement with GWCI and review our revised proposal to co-invest in railroad rehabilitation, ”said Rick McClellan, president of Genesee & Wyoming. Canada (GWCI), in a press release.

“It is evident that the provincial and federal governments are really working on finding a solution to keep HCRY operational and secure the jobs of our 43 local workers, especially during the holiday season. The three parties are working together to ensure that our clients who depend on this industry – the major employers in the natural resource economy of Northern Ontario – avoid a serious short-term disruption to their supply chains.

“In light of the progress made in these negotiations and the clearly expressed desire to reach an agreement, we have carefully considered and accepted a request from the Government of Ontario to postpone the scheduled end of HCRY operations on December 18. With our government partners clearly committed to negotiating a long-term solution, GWCI is pleased to extend the HCRY shutdown schedule and commit to keeping trains in service until June 30, 2021, ”McClellan wrote.

“This good faith extension will give all parties the time to come to an agreement to secure a sustainable future for this strategic asset and avoid the permanent closure of HCRY. The extension demonstrates our commitment to our employees, customers and the communities we all serve. The stakes are too high to close the HCRY with negotiations progressing constructively. ”

“We remain committed to working with both levels of government to finalize an agreement in the New Year to support this vital railroad,” McClellan wrote.

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