|Thursday, March 14, 1935
|The Daily Sentinel Review (Woodstock)
Seek to prevent abandonment of railway branch
Council Meets Railway Official—Resolution Requests Further Consideration.
While admitting that the Canadian National Railway authorities were justified from an ordinary business standpoint in deciding to abandon the 9.2 miles of track between Woodstock and Burgessville, the members of the city council who, with representatives from the board of trade and others interested, conferred at the city hall yesterday afternoon with C.N.R. officials and representatives of the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada, passed a resolution on motion of Ald. McLeod asking bot the the railway authorities and the railway board to give the matter further consideration, pointing out that the time might come when the line would again pay its way.
In addition to Mayor MacArthur and the members of the council, there were present to represent the public Reeve W.F. Lampman of East Oxford, and C.E. Sutherland, J.D. Pool, E.B. Terryberry and N.A.B. Smith, representing the board of trade. Roy Bigham, representing Ralston Purina Ltd., was also at the meeting.
The Canadian National Railways were represented by F.P. Nelson, divisional freight agent, and Chester Hill, travelling freight agent, both of Hamilton; W.J. Pigott, superintendent of the London division; and J. Ferguson, divisional engineer, also of London. D.G. Kilburn, divisional engineer, and J.L. Bourgeault, inspector of operations, represented the Dominion railway board.
Mayor MacArthur, who was elected to the chair, opened the meeting by requesting Mr. Pigott to explain the situation as it stood.
Mr. Pigott related that many of the smaller branch lines had recently been found to be unprofitable, as a result of which considerable study had been given to the situation with a view to giving the best service consistent with economy. Among these light-traffic lines was the Otterville sub-division, in the case of which an endeavor had been made to economize by eliminating part of the line, and at the same time provide the residents of the municipalities affected with the best service possible.
In this case, he went on, an application had been made for permission to abandon the line between Hickson and Tavistock Junction, on which there were no stops, and that between Woodstock and Burgessville, on which there was only one minor stop [Curries].
"Our attitude is simply one of economy," Mr. Pigott declared. "Wherever we have found that no revenue was being produced, we have endeavored to effect economies by not putting in a service where it was not needed."
"Do you suppose that the line might pay if it were turned over to someone who would run a bus on flanged wheels?" queried Ald. Nesbitt.
"That would depend on the conditions on which the line was taken to over [sic]," Mr. Pigott replied. "If the man had to pay taxes and the maintenance, I doubt it. If the traffic was only what we have observed in the past three days [sic, perhaps Mr. Piggot meant past three years since there was no traffic between Woodstock and Burgessivlle since September 25, 1932], there would be no profit."
Served for Years
"We naturally, as a city, hate to see the line scrapped," said Mr. Sutherland "It has served the district for years, and there is no doubt that if the road still goes to Brantford it will take some business away from here. I would hate to see the line scrapped, for the day may come when we may need it."
Reeve Lampman, in expressing agreement with this sentiment, enquired as to what disposition would be made of the land and equipment in the event of abandonment. Mr. Piggot replied that in similar cases sales and leases had been made.
Ald. Harper, chairman of the railways committee, asked if it would not be possible to re-route the train which runs at present from St. Thomas to Brantford via Tillsonsburg so as to run through Woodstock. Ald. Lewis supported Ald. Harper in this, remarking that many residents of the district affected did not own automobiles, and that in winder the roads were not in good condition.
Mr. Pigott replied that under present conditions, this train service was maintained by on crew. If the train were run via Woodstock, it would not touch Bufrd, which was one of the chielf revenue-producing stops, and to accommodate the residents of Burford and nearby points, it would be necessary to maintain a second train crew.
Mr. Bigham asked if the abandonment of the line would mean increased freight rates on a mileage basis, to which Mr. Pigott answered that he had no doubt that the authorities would consider the matter. In the event of the shippers being dissatisifed, he added, there was always the recourse of appeal to the railway board.
Ald. Lynch referred again to the question of operating gasoline cars on the line, but was informed by Mr. Pigott that from the experience of the Canadian National, it had been found that the passengers traffic was not worth considering, and that a freight service was impracticable.
Ald. Nesbitt stated that he did not believe that the use of gasoline of Diesel cars would pay over a small distance, but suggested that the sstem might be considered in the event of a descision to abandon other parts of the line. Mr. Terryberry, in this connection, remarked that there were a number of instances in the United States in which this type of traffic was being tried on abandoned lines, and declared that he believed the proposal worthy of serious consideration.
After some further discussion, Ald. McLeod moved that the matter be left in the hands of the railway board and of the C.N.R. officials for further consideration, with the understanding that the meeting did not wich the line to be abandoned. The alderman suggested that the line should be left as it was for five years, by which time increased prosperity might have made the line a paying proposition again.
Mr. Sutherland seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.
The mayor, in adjourning the meeting, expressed thanks on behalf of the city council and others present to the railway and railway board officials for heir courteous hearing.