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CN Reaches Deal to Sell 650 Miles of Railroad Track in Northern Wisconsin and the U.P. to WATCO


Canadian National Railroad announced Tuesday it reached an agreement with WATCO to sell nearly a thousand miles of tracks.

250 miles of the track runs from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to Oba, Ontario. It includes 650 miles of branch lines of Wisconsin Central Ltd. in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.

CN said this marks the successful conclusion of the sale process that CN announced and launched in July of 2020.

In Ontario, Watco will continue freight operations as well as the Agawa Canyon Train Tour. Watco has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Missanabie Cree First Nation regarding partnership opportunities for the Algoma Central Railway (ACR).

In both the United States and Ontario, CN will continue to play a central role as the transferred segments will remain connected to CN’s tri-coastal network, safely and reliably linking businesses to markets around the world.

Lawmakers are praising the agreement. 

“This is truly great news for Wisconsin. This announcement means not only continued freight rail service for Wisconsin’s Northwoods, but it also presents an opportunity to expand service,” Governor Evers said. “That is especially good news for our Northwoods economy and the timber and paper industries that rely heavily on freight rail to connect to major ports and markets all over the world.”

Congressman Tom Tiffany said he hopes to work with WATCO and CN to ensure a brighter future for the region.

“Access to reliable rail service is a critically important to the viability of our agriculture, timber and manufacturing sectors,” said Tiffany. “Northern Wisconsin in poised for growth, and stable, affordable and dependable rail service a key component for reaching that potential.”

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed and the acquisition of the rail lines in the United States is subject to regulatory authorization by the Surface Transportation Board.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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