Comment 75697

By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2012 at 10:59:57 in reply to Comment 75681

TORONTO - The Ontario government's Metrolinx is paying $310.5 million to buy two segments of railway line in the Toronto area from Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR).

The rails are principally used to carry GO Transit passenger trains, which are part of a provincially owned regional transportation system that runs through heavily populated areas in and around Canada's most populous city.

Under a strategic plan announced in December 2008, Metrolinx has been buying up various segments of track in the areas it serves — with the goal of improving service to current and future commuters.

The latest purchases mean its GO Transit subsidiary owns 65 per cent of the rail corridors that it uses, Metrolinx spokesman Malon Edwards said Tuesday..

He added that other users of the infrastructure will continue to use the track but pay access fees to GO rather than to Canadian National.

"By purchasing these segments of track, GO Transit switches its role from tenant to landlord. So instead of paying access fees on these segments of track, we now collect access fees from the transportation agencies using the rail corridor we own," Edwards said.

In total, the deal announced Tuesday by CN involves about 40 kilometres of track.

The Montreal-based railway will continue to have rights to run freight trains over the track, as will passenger rail services operated by Via, Ontario Northland and Amtrak.

One of the two lines in Tuesday's announcement runs between the Etobicoke area of Toronto and a point in Oakville, Ont., just west of Fourth Line — part of GO's Lakeshore West train service that runs from downtown Toronto at Union Station to Hamilton.

The other line which runs from downtown Toronto near Rosedale Valley Road through the Don Valley to the northern edge of the city at Steeles Avenue where it connects with an east-west freight corridor owned by Canadian National.

"We are pleased to transfer ownership of these important commuter rail lines to Metrolinx to further its future service objectives, while protecting CN's operating rights to ensure continued service to its freight customers," Luc John, CN executive vice-president and chief financial officer, said in a statement.

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