Great Western Railway

The Great Western Railway (GWR) is one of a number of short-line railways that grew out of the closure of small country elevators and the desire by the main line railways to consolidate their systems. GWR began operations in September 2000 on four former CP branch lines in southwest Saskatchewan when Wescan Rail, a rail contracting company from Abbotsford, British Columbia, purchased these lines from CP. These were the Notukeu, Altawan, Shaunavon and Vanguard subdivisions—a total of 320 miles (514 km) of track. In 2002, GWR discontinued service on the 22-mile (35 km) portion of the Notukeu subdivision from Val Marie to Bracken, due to a lack of traffic; the line was then removed. GWR serves customers in the grain industry, primarily producer car loading sites, but also some remaining grain elevators and pulse crop facilities. It also handles some incoming traffic including fertilizer and corn. In 2003, Wescan Rail indicated it wished to sell the short line. A group of local investors including farmers and municipal governments formed a company to negotiate the purchase of the branch lines, so that GWR could remain in operation.

Paul Beingessner