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Old Posted Jun 28, 2019, 6:33 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4,908
Interesting. Back when privatization was occurring, I recall thinking that it was not a good move for our government to turn over our rail service to a private company. I viewed our rail service and related infrastructure as critical to the function of our country and as an asset that should be owned and controlled by its citizens.

However, even before privatization, I remember the feds abandoning many rail services in this province, likely to cut costs for lesser-used services, but at least the infrastructure was left in place. Nonetheless, the cutting of those services was a negative for the local people who lost their train, and I think in retrospect we could conclude that it was a little short-sighted.

It saddens me a little to think that in my lifetime I've seen rail service deteriorate from being able to take a passenger train to almost anywhere in Nova Scotia, to only having one passenger rail service remaining - The Ocean.

This piece also lends credence to the tracks being torn up in the early 2000s.


From the mid-1980s, there was increasing talk about privatizing CN. As a railway company, CN required significant capital investment on an ongoing basis. Politically, ownership by the federal government often influenced high-level appointments with at least as much respect for partisan interest as for “hands off” direction.

In Canada (as in Britain under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), the economic recession of the 1980s led to the privatization of many national companies. In the 1980s and 1990s, over two dozen Crown corporations were sold to private investors, including Air Canada (1988) and Petro-Canada (1991). In November 1995, CN was also privatized, with many of its shares bought by American investors. According to the CN Commercialization Act of 1995, the company headquarters had to remain in Montréal, which ensured that CN would remain a Canadian corporation.

Following privatization, CN shed much of its track and staff and increased its profitability. In February 1998, it purchased US rail company Illinois Central Corporation for US$2.4 billion. The acquisition of Illinois Central expanded CN’s rail network to a third coast, the Gulf of Mexico. CN later acquired Wisconsin Central (2001), the rail and marine holdings of Great Lakes Transportation (2004), shares of BC Rail (2004), and the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway (2009).

The largest rail network in Canada, CN is also the only transcontinental rail network in North America. It transports approximately $250 billion worth of goods annually, and in 2016 earned over $12 billion in revenue. That same year, the company employed over 22,000 people in Canada and the US.
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