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Southern Rails Co-operative

In 1989, Southern Rails Co-operative (SRC) became the first common carrier short line of the modern era. SRC was created and owned by farmers along two Saskatchewan branch lines. These were the Colony subdivision: a former CP line running from Rockglen to Killdeer, and the portion of the CN Avonlea subdivision from Parry to Avonlea. Both of these lines were slated for abandonment by the major railways; SRC was seen by Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation as a prototype that could serve as a model for similar branch lines. SRC operated these two separate branch lines with an innovative power unit: the Brandt Road Rail Vehicle was built on the chassis of a Kenworth highway tractor, and could operate on both road and rail; in this way, it was able to move between the two branch lines, which were 160 km apart. SRC was organized as a traditional co-operative, with ownership held by farmers able to utilize the railway. It served Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevators at Truax and Parry and producer car loading sites at Killdeer, Canopus and Rockglen. By 2004, much of the original track operated by SRC was no longer in service, but the company had expanded along the Avonlea subdivision into Moose Jaw.

Paul Beingessner

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