Railmark Canada Limited announced today that late this afternoon it had offered a sensible, short term solution to resume the passenger train service from Sault Se Marie to Hearst during this critical time of year.
With all of Railmark’s operating certificates in place, passenger train liability insurance and trained crews certified to operate on CN’s rail lines, the less intrusive option is to allow the subsidy to flow to Railmark and operate the train throughout the rest of the season, providing time for the EDC and Stakeholders to locate another operator that they may be more suited with, or find common ground with Railmark for a project which it had already been awarded.
During the last ten weeks Railmark crews have performed safely and in conformance to a host of new federal railroad regulations enacted over the past two years by Transport Canada.
In Railmark’s offer it would immediately provide service to both ends of the railroad on a scheduled basis while increasing its qualified staff so that after August 15, 2015 trains would be re-crewed in Hawk Junction on a regular basis to eliminate additional schedule risks.
In this offer Railmark has asked the EDC to re-set back to May 1, 2015 the reimbursement agreement which is practically complete and ready for signature.
Railmark would operate the passenger train service until another operator was chosen and in place by November 30, 2015 and would cooperate in the transition to the new operator.
In the event that the Stakeholders and EDC cannot locate another suitable operator whose business plan would be accepted by Transport Canada and allowed by CN on its railway, Railmark would remain willing to move forward long term with its original development plan.
Until a new operator could be finalized and in place by November 30, 2015 or Railmark chosen long term, Railmark would not launch its marketing and business development programs for the passenger train, with the exception of its eight (8) days of Holiday Trains expected to bring in 5,000 or more unique visitors into Sault Ste Marie during a normally slow 4th Quarter.
Railmark would expect to be reimbursed for its expenses back to May 1, 2015 and until the new operator is in place.
With the fact that Railmark has two and a half months of expenses that can be claimed for reimbursement, along with a proposed change in the reimbursement agreement that provides for CN to be paid their track access and other fees directly by the EDC, this lessens the financial pressure on the short term while the Stakeholders seek another operator during a time that service needs to be maintained.
Railmark would expect to sign the mostly completed reimbursement agreement prior to the resumption of service, which could begin as early as Saturday.
Additionally Railmark has offered to make detailed monthly operating reports to Council and to the Stakeholders and has established through its company structure, a Passenger Train Advisory Committee open to the Stakeholders.
Should Railmark be chosen once again to continue the service long term, Railmark will ship additional passenger equipment and an locomotive to the operation and launch its marketing and development plan.
Even though Railmark remains committed to this operation long term and its plan to make the train financially sustainable and reduce the government subsidy, the company will not stand in the way of the Stakeholders desire to seek another operator which they feel would serve their interests better.
This proposed offer made this afternoon both preserves that option for the Stakeholders and provides critically needed train service during a busy time of the year.
B. Allen Brown, CEO of Railmark Canada Limited commented, “There is no doubt that things could have been done differently on all sides. Each party could have done something a little bit better, but we cannot look back – we need to look forward to achieve results. It’s time to come together and do the right thing for all of the people and businesses who depend so much upon passenger rail service along this line.”