Along Highway 29, between Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge, is the visible sign of progress with the replacement ten-mile of trackway that was lifted in 2002 by CN Rail, then BC Rail. BC Rail opted to remove the tracks to be used in a rail elsewhere.
Northern Energy and Mining Inc. (NEMI) has taken steps to install the trackway itself, so that they can ship their coal to market. Manager of Technical Services, Kevin Sharman spoke about the railway and those involved in the project.
?(NEMI has hired) a railway contracting company, A & B Rail, and they are supervised by a couple of consultants that are former BC Rail people.? He adds later that A & B Rail is using a lot of local labourers and contractors in this project, an important issue with NEMI. A workforce of roughly ten for A & B Rail is 60-70% local. ?It?s a healthy sign for Tumbler Ridge. It is a strategy by NEMI. We don?t want to go outside the community for qualified workers when we can find them locally.?
The planning stages of the railway installation began prior to May, with discussions with CN Rail in regards to replacing the ten-mile track previously in place for use for the Quintette mine. The new ties currently sit piled alongside the site, with pre-plates already being laid down. An additional separate project by NEMI will install a rail loop, which will be exclusively used by NEMI and possibly be available to other users. The expected date of completion for the ten mile track project and the rail loop is end of September.
The ten miles of replaced track will be under control of CN Rail and they will schedule it as they have in the past. It is uncertain at this point whether NEMI will receive compensation for the use of the ten-mile trackway being controlled by CN Rail, even though they fronted the project costs.
The expected cost of the project is $12M in total, with $8M anticipated for the ten miles of track replacement and another $4M for the NEMI rail loop. The entire cost, at this point, is being covered by NEMI. Sharman estimates an approximate 20-year use for the rail loop. The rail loop will be the responsibility of NEMI to remove during reclamation, but could be further used or sold. Because the ten miles of new track is the property of CN, they are responsible for this section.