Earth-moving began last week for the new Weyburn Industrial Transload project on a 30-acre parcel just southwest of the city, bringing the plans of the last two years for the facility to reality.
Two bulldozers were moving dirt on the parcel to scrape up clay to be used for the building of a rail bed nearby, to build 6,000 feet of track beside an existing CP Rail spur that extends south of the ethanol plant.
This is part of the CP Radville subdivision that splits off the mainline near the McDonalds restaurant, and is currently little used except to store rail cars between shipments.
General manager of operations and business development Carter Stewart noted the plans are initially to have two 3,000-foot lines built, 60 feet apart, each line capable of holding 25 rail cars.
Stewart spent 11 years with his father Blair in running Stewart Southern Railway, a shortline railway based out of Fillmore alongside Highway 33. Both are no longer involved in its operation as of last year, but have joined with local partners Dale Mainil, Calvin Tracey and Jason LeBlanc for the new WIT project.
The aim is to build a rail transloading facility, and Stewart hopes to be able to be up and running by late August or the fall this year.
The steel for the rails will be coming in June, and Stewart hopes to have the two rail lines built in July, if everything comes together properly and the weather cooperates.
The design for the facility is done, and the plans include a space for an office on the property, with a long-term view to building up the facility, including adding a rail loop, for a total of 18,000 feet of track over the next five years, with three phases set for developing it.
CP Rail supports the project, said Stewart, noting they had actually hoped to build a transload facility a number of years ago, but it didn’t pan out.
“CP will own the track,” he noted, and they will move the cars in and out. The transload facility will help move various commodities, like fertilizer and other agricultural products, aggregate and scrap steel.
One of the possibilities also is a pent-up demand for scrapping of old rail cars, as well as the repair of them, and as they have access to the CP main line that goes through Weyburn, they can literally reach any point in North America, making Weyburn an ideal location for this facility. The scrap steel that would result from old rail cars could be shipped to places like EVRAZ in Regina, where the steel would be turned into pipe for pipelines.
Carter noted that there are not very many transload facilities in Saskatchewan, with a facility in Northgate probably the closest one, while there are many of them in the U.S., so the partners felt this one will fill a real need in the province for shipping of various commodities.
“This site can access anywhere in North America, and any ocean port, as we tie in to CP Rail’s network. This location is also good, because trucks can access all of the highways from here without having to go through the city,” said Carter.
He also noted that with economic activities slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a good time to start up the initial ground work on the project and start to get it established, so when the pandemic starts to slow down and business can resume, there will be something in place that can be used.