July 1, 1935, Vol. 25, No. 8 Judgments, orders, regulations and rulings (Ottawa) Page 159

Application of the Canadian National Railways for an Order of the Board granting leave to abandon the operation of that portion of its Tweed Subdivision, in the Province of Ontario, between Tweed (Mileage 33.9) and Bannockburn (Mileage 53.4), a distance of 19.5 miles.


Heard at Tweed, Ont., May 27, 1935.


Commissioner Norris:

Application was made by the Canadian National Railways, under section 165 (a) of the Railway Act, subsection 3 of the Canadian National-Canadian Pacific Act, 1933, and all other appropriate statutory provisions, for an order of the Board granting it leave to abandon the operation of that portion of its Tweed Subdivision, in the province of Ontario, between Tweed (M. 33.9) and Bannockburn (M. 53.4), a distance of 19.5 miles.

The promotion of this line of railway was first undertaken on behalf of the Rathbun lumber interests, with headquarters at Deseronto, Ont., and it was built under the original charter of the Napanee, Tamworth and Québec Railway Company. It was opened for traffic in 1903. The original company (the Napanee, Tamworth and Québec RailwayCompany) had been changed in 1890 to the Kingston, Napanee and Western Railway Company, and in 1896 had been merged with the Bay of Quinte Railway and Navigation Company to form the Bay of Quinte Railway Company. The Bay of Quinte Railway Company passed into the possession of the Canadian Northern Railway Company in 1914, the control of which passed to the Dominion Government in 1917. The Canadian Northern Railway Company is now operated as part of the Canadian National Railways.

The Canadian National Railways filed this application for abandonment with the Board on January 18, 1935, supporting its application with statements setting forth a general description of the line concerned, its special industrial relationships, its revenue and expenses for the year October, 1930, to September, 1931, for the calendar year 1933, and an analysis of the freight traffic on this line for the same periods.

Later, at the Board's request, the railway company also filed a statement of the revenues and expenditures for the calendar year 1934.

On February 5, 1935, the Board's Assistant Chief Engineer, accompanied by one of the Board's Inspectors, made a survey of this portion of the Canadian National Railways' line, and at an informal meeting at Tweed, Ont., conferred with representatives of the various municipalities concerned and residents of the district tributary to the railway line. These officers reported that the line was, generally, in very poor condition and would require at least 75 per cent tie renewals this season (if operation were to be continued), the rails being 70-pound laid in 1903 when the line was opened for traffic. They further reported that the residents of Tweed, Actinolite, Queensboro, and Allans (the last three villages being between Tweed and Bannockburn, in the territory served by the railway line) were strongly opposed to its abandonment.

Later, strong protests against the abandonment of this line were filed with the Board by various interested individuals, and a petition signed by some sixty residents (described as farmers, lumbermen, cheese shippers, drovers, general merchants and millmen) was received by the Board on May 23, asking that the trains now operating from Coe Hill be routed through to Yarker, Napanee or Kingston, or failing this arrangement, that trains now operating from Tweed to Napanee be routed through to Bannockburn in such a way that a connection might be made at Bannockburn with trains operating both north and south.

The Dominion Postal authorities made no objection to the proposed abandonment of this line of railway, it having been found that such abandonment would have no adverse effect on the postal service afforded that area.

The application was heard at Tweed, Ont., on Monday, May 27, 1935; Mr. James Moore (reeve of the township of Elzevir), Mr. W. H. Sayers (reeve of the village of Tweed), Dr. P. J. Bowlby (president of the Tweed Board of Trade), Mr. F. Reynolds (livestock shipper), Mr. H. P. Purdy (flour mill owner), Mr. Oscar Taylor (farmer), Mr. F. B. Irwin (storekeeper), and Mr. Rollins (pulpwood owner), appeared before the Board in opposition to the railway company's application for permission to abandon this portion of its line.

The railway company, in support of its application, filed statements showing operating results for the year October, 1930, to September, 1931; for the calendar year 1933 and for the calendar year 1934. In his analyses of these statements, counsel for the railway company submitted that for the year October, 1930, to September, 1931 (inclusive), there was an operating system deficit of $14,924 (approximately $15,000) ; this calculated on a tri-weekly train service (return), from October 1, 1930, to June 23, 1931, and a semi-weeklv train service (return), for the period June 23, 1931, to September 30, 1931. For the year 1933, the statements showed an operating loss of $12,800, based on a train service of one train per week (return). For the year 1934, based on a train service of one train per week (return), there was an operating system loss of approximately $7,000; a total operating system loss for the three years of approximately $34,800, or an average loss of $11,600 per year.

It was further submitted in evidence by the railway company that this portion of the line is in very bad condition; that it has been impossible since the early part of April of this year to continue the train service, on account of the unsafe condition of the track; that to place this line in condition for safe operation, would require the outlay of at least $7,500, this representing the cost of 8,000 ties, new switch ties, repairs to culverts and labour in addition to the regular forces. To this would require to be added thereafter the cost of yearly maintenance, calculated at approximately $500 per year per mile. The statement of revenue passengers on this Tweed-Bannockburn line for the year May, 1934, to April, 1935, showed a total of 163 passengers handled on 102 train trips, an average of less than 2 passengers per trip. Counsel for the railway company contended that this statement of revenue passengers clearly indicated that no inconvenience would be inflicted upon the travelling public by the abandonment of this line of railway.

The representatives of the various municipalities and interests concerned, appearing at the hearing in opposition to the proposed abandonment of this line of railway, made no submissions as to the actual financial losses which they would suffer if the application were granted. They were at one in the opinion that the decrease in freight and passenger traffic was largely due to the lack of train service. The farmers and stock shippers stated that the one-train-a-week service was not sufficient, and that the train did not run at the proper time in the week to enable them to connect with their available market. It was stated that shippers and passengers now drove to Eldorado, to avail themselves of the tri-weekly train service; and that when the railway company discontinued its tri-weekly train service and later cut the service to one train per week, the trucks secured the business, thus further decreasing the company's revenue. It was submitted that should the line be abandoned cheese shipments would require to be trucked to Belleville, and wood shipments to Bannockburn, the latter over poor roads, almost impassable at certain seasons of the year.

It was contended that the figures shown in the railway company's statements were for the leanest years in the period of low earnings, and did not properly represent the freight that would move by rail if proper train service were afforded; and that too large a proportion of main line operating expense was being charged to this feeder line of railway.

They protested that the railway line which it is proposed to abandon serves a good farming and live stock country; that there is a considerable mining industry (to be now developed) and large areas of pulpwood in the district, both of which would, with proper train service, be moved by railway; that the district lying north of Bannockburn should properly be served by this line, instead of routing its traffic via Trenton, and it was further contended that if the traffic from north of Bannockburn, destined for points east on the main line, or for points between Yarker and Tweed, must move via Trenton, Belleville, and Napanee, the freight rate would be prohibitive.

No estimate was offered, however, as to the possible amount of such freight likely to move, if the Tweed-Bannockburn line were kept in operation.

There is no doubt that some inconvenience would be imposed upon those residents of the district and business interests that have continued to use the freight and passenger service on this line of railway, and the reluctance of the residents of the communities tributary to the line, to lose it after thirty years, is readily understood.

The amendment to the Railway Act (Chapter 47; 23-24 George V) which became effective May 23, 1933, as section 165A, provides that,

The company may abandon the operation of any line of railway, with the approval of the Board, and no company shall abandon the operation of any line of railway without such approval.

The Railway Act lays down no principle upon which the Board should act in granting or withholding approval in such applications for abandonment of railway lines. The mere fact that a branch line of railway has ceased to show a profit from operation does not, in every case, justify its abandonment. The issue is clearly, however, whether the loss and inconvenience to the public consequent upon the abandonment outweigh the burden that continued operation of the railway line involved would impose upon the railway company.

In this case the statement of revenue passenger traffic indicates that no considerable inconvenience will be imposed upon the travelling public if this line of railway were abandoned. The deficits in revenue from freight traffic have been heavy for some years and it was not shown at the hearing that there could be any substantial increase in this traffic. Further, it is noted that should this line be kept in operation heavy expenditure will be necessary to restore it to a safe operating condition, with the consequent yearly maintenance charges.

From the evidence presented at the hearing, it is clear that while there might, in the future, be some additional freight revenue from the carriage of the products of the mine or the pulpwood of the district, there is not sufficient traffic, present or prospective, as would warrant the continuance of the Tweed-Bannockburn line at the operating deficit shown in the company's statements, or as would justify the Board in requiring the railway company to restore these tracks to proper operating condition and provide for their yearly maintenance.

In view of the foregoing, I am of opinion that the application of the Canadian National Railways for permission to abandon that portion of its line between Tweed and Bannockburn should be granted.

Ottawa, June 18, 1935.

Concurred in by the Assistant Chief Commissioner and Commissioner Stone.

Railways: C.N.Rys.

Stations: Actinolite, Allans, Bannockburn, Queensboro, Tweed