Back on June 29th, the Saskatchewan government put out a release stating that more investment would be on the way for short line rail through the Government's Short Line Railway Improvement Program, or SRIP.
The Town of Leader was included in the latest round of funding, as the program allotted a total of $530,000 to assist with track upgrades and expansion, improved crossing surfaces and sightlines, bridge maintenance, track rehabilitations and more.
West Central Online got into contact with Leader Mayor Aaron Wenzel, who is also the General Manager at Great Sandhills Railway in Leader.
Safe to say, Wenzel was excited on both fronts to see the money coming in. He shared a bit on the program's history over the past few Premier's.
"The funding has kind of come and gone over the years. It was there for many years under the Brad Wall administration, and it used to be $1 million dollars split between the short lines," he said, wearing each sides work hat, "When Premier Moe took over they cut it from the budget for two years, and now it was back, and was actually back last year but they renewed it again this year and there was a little more awareness put around it."
The funding was split based on the amount of track each railway owns, with all small track networks receiving at least $25,000.
"We recognize the importance of the short line rail industry and the vital role it plays in supporting our provincial supply chain," Highways Minister Jeremy Cockrill said. "Rail provides an important transportation link in moving agricultural goods and other products in and out of the province."
According to the Government, grants will be provided to all 13 short lines, with the province providing up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs. Short line railways in Saskatchewan operate on 2,122 kilometres of track, primarily transporting grain.