Saturday, June 27, 2015

Shortline Profile, Episode 1: Stewart Southern Railway

After starting the Abandoned Rails series, I decided that I would do something similar, only for currently active shortlines.

The first profile will be that of the Stewart Southern Railway (SSR) which operates 132 km over the former Canadian Pacific Tyvan Subdivision.

GMTX 2219, and 2222 head south into Stoughton, May 2, 2015
The SSR began operations in 2010, when Blair Stewart and an investors group purchased the Tyvan Sub after CP put it up for abandonment.

Built in 1904, the Tyvan Sub was at one point the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world. It is now second only to a stretch of track in Australia

Prior to the purchase (not sure if this has changed since), the last major upgrade to the subdivision was in the 1980's when the line had 100 pound rail installed. Today it is still jointed track  from start to finish. And as you can tell in the below video, leads to some rocky trains.

MOW equipment working on the SSR in May 2015

Originally, the main commodity to be shipped on the Stewart Southern was grain, with potential for other customers to come on-line in the future. That didn't take long, as the oil sector growth in Stoughton, and surrounding areas grew quickly in the years following start-up.

In 2012, the Stoughton Oil Trans-loading facility opened, and began shipping by rail via the Stewart Southern. The oil is loaded into rail cars in Stoughton, shipped north-west to Regina, interchanged to CP, and then onto the final destination from there. I've heard that CP runs some of this oil east over the top of the Great Lakes on trains 550 (formerly 608), and returns them on 551 (formerly 609).

SSR power sits idle at the Stoughton Oil trans-loading facility.
As you can see in two of the above photos, Stewart Southern has mainly been operating with leased GMTX power. I've seen three pairs of units in operation. The first being 2222, and 2219. Second being 2237, and 2213. And thirdly 2212 paired with a number I haven't yet had the chance to see.

SSR is also home to some older power. SSR 1010, 4255, and 1009. These three units are old GE B23-7s. One of which still sports a Santa Fe paint scheme. Below they are seen sitting on the wye at Stoughton, which is the location of the former junction between Canadian Pacific's Tyvan, and the Kisbey Subs.

I have yet to see these units in action. Not sure if they do see any any more.

In May I did a quick trip from Stoughton to Francis on the SSR, snapping a few pictures of the elevators along the way.

Cars parked in Creelman. A cloud decided to pop up as I pulled in here for a shot.
Fillmore Seeds Inc. at Fillmore, SK
Another shot at Fillmore.
And finally the elevator at Francis

At just about every crossing, Stewart Southern likes to remind drivers that any time is train time,

Before our parting remarks, an interesting read from Pipeline News Suggested that perhaps Stoughton could one day be connected to Northgate, SK where Ceres Global Ag. is in the process of building a large trans-load facility for both grain products, and oil. The site is also connected directly to the BNSF for easy access to the U.S. The main reason the question is asked is because Ceres holds a 25 percent stake in the Stewart Southern. I may have  misread the article, but they seem to think that the old right of way runs directly from Northgate to Stoughton, but there is a gap of about 21 miles between the former Kisby Sub trackage south of Stoughton, and the former Northgate Spur at Lampman. I have shown this in the picture below. You can read the story here.

That's it for the Stewart Southern Railway for now, but expect to see more on them in the future, as they are only a 30 minute drive from Weyburn.


Ceres Global
The Western Producer


  1. Great article, David! I've seen the SSR in Regina a couple of times but never at a place where I could photograph them. I might have to take a trip to Stoughton soon! :)

    I saw 1009 and 1010 in Regina back in 2009 when they were still painted for the Alberta RailNet.

    1. Thanks, Steve!

      Man I wish they still worn that paint scheme.

  2. Seems like this shortline is in the right place at the right time. Great to read about these companies keeping railroading alive on the former CP/CN subs.

    1. They really were. And it is also nice have an alternative to CN/CP sometimes.