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Evers applauds sale of some CN rail lines to Watco

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson on Tuesday praised the announcement that the Canadian National Railroad has reached an agreement to sell key rail lines, including 650 miles of track in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, to logistics company Watco.

“This is truly great news for Wisconsin. This announcement means not only continued freight rail service for Wisconsin’s Northwoods, but it also presents an opportunity to expand service,” Gov. Evers said. “That is especially good news for our Northwoods economy and the timber and paper industries that rely heavily on freight rail to connect to major ports and markets all over the world.”

It marks the successful conclusion of a sale process that CN announced and launched in July 2020.

“More than 170 million tons of freight move by rail in Wisconsin each year,” Secretary Thompson said. “For many of Wisconsin’s major industries — agriculture, manufacturing, and wood products — rail is the most cost-effective way to move freight. Having reliable rail access will make our industries more competitive and contribute to our economic recovery. Rail is also a more energy-efficient way to move freight, reducing our state’s carbon footprint. Plus, every ton of freight that move by rail means less congestion and wear and tear on our highways,” he said.

In Wisconsin, nearly all rail lines are owned by private companies. Watco currently operates the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, which connects to the CN line and other Class I railroads.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed and the acquisition of the rail lines in the U.S. is subject to regulatory authorization by the Surface Transportation Board.

In both the U.S. and Ontario, CN will continue to play a central role as the transferred segments will remain connected to CN’s tri-coastal network that spans Canada from east to west and down through the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico.

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