|December 6, 2006
CN purchases Northwestern Alberta Short-line Savage Alberta Railway
|Savage Alberta Railway, Inc. (SAR) and Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) announced on December 1st that CN has purchased
SAR from Savage Companies of Salt Lake City, Utah for C$25 million. CN took control of operations effective midnight December 1.
Savage operated the short-line railway located in resource-rich northwestern Alberta, which consisted of 345-miles of track and
transporting approximately 35,000 carloads of freight in 2005. CAW National Council 4000 represents the 33 locomotive engineers
and conductors who operated Savage trains.
After the acquisition was announced, CN said that they will upgrade the shortline's track to improve operations and customer service,
and to maximize its potential for transporting greater volumes of coal, grain and forest products.
Savage's primary connection with CN is at Swan Landing, located approximately 38 miles northeast of Jasper, Alberta. From there,
SAR runs north through Grande Cache to Grande Prairie, the current base of operations, where one branch runs west to a connection
with CN at Hythe, Alberta and another branch runs northeast to Wanham, Alberta.
CN announced that they will be offering employment to SAR's approximately 75 employees and will honour the existing collective
labour agreement with the CAW at SAR.
The CAW recently ratified a new collective agreement with Savage in July 2006. The deal included a 19% wage increase for
conductors and 9% for engineers effective ratification, followed by 11% for conductors and 10% for engineer’s for the remaining years
of a three contract. The CAW also negotiated a new vision plan, increased dental benefits to a yearly maximum of $1,800.00 (a $300
increase), significant improvement to the Group Registered Retirement Savings Plan, as well as numerous other items and work rule
The CAW will be arranging to meet with CN as soon as possible to discuss their immediate and future plans for this rail line and
workforce. Although this rail line will continue to interchange with CN's mainline operations, the Union believes that CN will operate
this line as a separate identity and operation from CN, meaning there will be no movement of employees from CN into Grande Cache
or Grande Prairie, or likewise, former SAR employees will not have seniority rights to exercise into CN employment. This is
consistent with what transpired with CN's recent purchase of MacKenzie Northern from Rail America, another short-line carrier
(formerly CN lines) located in northern Alberta and running into the Northwest Territories.