Tearing out the old rails and fixing up the ground, Great Sandhills Railway is making some fixes along Highway 32. 

Two projects have been recently implemented along the tracks that follow alongside the road from Swift Current to Leader. The first took place near Lemsford and was a joint effort between GSR and the federal government. 

A grant received through the Railway Climate Adaptation Program via Transport Canada offered GSR $365,000 to help rebuild the railway bed. 

Aaron Wenzel, general manager for GSR, was glad they got the chance to fix up the troubled section. 

"The quality of the subsoil was very, very poor," said Wenzel. "The goal of the project was to improve the section with new technologies, like geomatting."

Geomats are structures that help prevent erosion, holding looser grounds together. They are not only used in railway settings but have been deployed in river banks and other high-erosion implementations. 

In total, this particular project saw 4,000 ties put in. The project at Lemsford has since been completed, after starting on May 27, and fixing close to 500 feet of track. They also went down 16 feet and rebuilt the track bed using the geomats. 

"That piece of track will no longer move when we have the seasonal wet sloughs come in," said Wenzel. "It's been dry the last few years, but it's just that massive expansion and contraction that causes a lot of risk and issues with the track. We're very happy with how it turned out."

Just this past Friday, the section of GSR railway near Cabri also began a rebuild. 

The same contractors that did the last batch near Lemsofrd have already begun in Cabri. Knudsen Excavating has been hard at work, drilling for samples, and getting the job site ready.

This time around, 1,000 feet of track and bed are being rebuilt with a $1.554 million grant under the Rail Safety Improvement Program from Transport Canada. 

"We're lowering the couple of the high banks that we have in Cabri," said Wenzel. "As well as regrading the roadbed and improving drainage in that piece of tracks, just to make it more resilient to the swings in weather."

This work coincides with GSR's 15th anniversary, for which they have also been bequeathed two new trains from parent company, Regional Rail LLC.

To mark that milestone, GSR has already received the first of two SD38-2 locomotives. Painted in Sask. colours, they stand as the first two locomotives that GSR has owned outright. 

"We're very excited," said Wenzel. "They have a flashy paint job which takes its direction from the provincial flag colours. We really wanted to pay homage to the province of Saskatchewan."