Canadian Pacific gauging interest in railroad tracks

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Canadian Pacific Railway is looking into the possibility of selling 660 miles of track in South Dakota and three surrounding states, the railroad said Tuesday.

The announcement came a day after CP said it was mothballing plans to extend its Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad network into the Powder River Basin to ship Wyoming coal to power plants in other states because of weakening demand for coal.

The railroad did not directly link the two decisions. Spokesman Ed Greenberg told The Associated Press both decisions are part of CP’s “focus on being a more competitive and efficient railroad.”

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He declined to speculate on whether the 660 miles of track would be less profitable without the Powder River Basin business.

CP in 2007 bought 2,500 miles of track and equipment from South Dakota-based DM&E and its subsidiaries for $1.5 billion. CP said in a Tuesday statement that it is “inviting expressions of interest” for track from Tracy, Minn., into South Dakota, and into Nebraska and Wyoming. The track is described as the “DM&E west end.”

“This portion of the CP network would be an attractive and highly viable opportunity for a low-cost operator,” CP President and CEO E. Hunter Harrison said in the statement. “There is a strong long-term franchise here for an operator willing to maintain high-quality service and explore growth opportunities with existing and future customers.”

CP has made no decision on selling the track but wants to see what interest is there, Greenberg told the AP. The railroad did not announce a timeline for making a decision on the future of the track.