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Huron Central Railway: Growing with global opportunity and the local communities it serves

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Canadian railways have been a backbone of their communities and our economy for longer than Canada has been a country.

Railways and ‘rail-adjacent’ companies help ensure people and goods get where they need to be. And their direct and indirect impacts on the economy are immense (and growing).

Case in point: Huron Central Railway (HCRY).

HCRY is a regional shortline operating on 278 kilometres of track between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie along Lake Huron’s north shore and Northern Channel. The railway transports commodities tied to forest products, steel, and mining products, and has interchanges with Canadian National (CN) in Sault Ste. Marie and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) in Sudbury.

HCRY travels through three of the four largest cities in a region that is growing in economic importance for the province, for Canada, and for consumers around the world. The region is rich in critical minerals and planned developments related to the so-called Ring of Fire are potential game-changers.

HCRY recognizes that making the most of the current opportunities will be a chance for its 40 engineering, transportation, and mechanical employees to again give back to the communities they serve and call home.

“We know how to handle harsh winter weather, we know the importance of the services we provide to Northern Ontario, and we know the importance of working together, for the benefit of the overall community at large,” said Brendan Wallage, Director of Sales & Marketing for HCRY.

A study done in May 2021 found that Northern Ontario is well-positioned to help consolidate and diversify business opportunities for Canadian products, and HCRY will contribute to that progress.

With its Class I interchanges, the study found that HCRY plays a decisive role as the “first and last mile feeders” in the region. It noted that several companies rely on HCRY’s services. And using HCRY instead of trucks would save local shippers and producers roughly $24.7 million per year.

In early January of 2023, the Government of Canada and Ontario announced they would each invest up to $10.5 million to HCRY for infrastructure support in Northern Ontario. Combined with contributions from HCRY, total investment in the project is $31.5 million. The funding will shore up infrastructure, increase fluidity and reliability, and reduce transit times.

“Having the investment created a pole of attraction for more customers wanting to use the HCRY, as the investment guarantees the perennity of the service,” says Wallage.

HCRY – like many in Central and Northern Ontario – is looking ahead to where the economy is going and growing. They see more opportunities to ship by rail as their customers and communities pay more attention to rail’s green benefits.

“We are committed to the people of Northern Ontario and aspire to be the safest, most sustainable, and most respected transportation service provider in Northern Ontario.”