Some implications of railway branch line abandonment for location and capacity of country elevators in Western Canada

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Lagace, Bruno Gerard
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The latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th saw railway lines expand across the Canadian Western Prairies. With them came warehouses and elevators, erected to handle and store grain produced by the settlers. At that time, roads were poor or nonexistent and railway companies enjoyed a monopoly in the hauling of grain and most other commodities. When highway transportation became feasible, however, the railways lost much of their traffic... Abandonment of lines would necessarily mean abandonment of grain handling facilities. The degree of loss depends on the facilities existing along the lines to be abandoned. That loss, in physical terms, is what this thesis aims at quantifying. This thesis further attempts to quantify the effects of various policies which could be decided upon by government and/or grain handling firms. The two basic assumptions made in the thesis are 1) that farmers decide on their delivery point on the basis of minimum distance 2) that the congestion that has prevailed in the country elevator system over the past five years(1956-61) will not subside in the future. The area studied involves Western Canada... The significant findings are as follows: 1) The abandonment of 4482 miles of railway line in Western Canada will mean the loss of 21.4% of all country elevators and 18.6% of all country elevator capacity... 2) If no reconstruction is done after abandonment, 53.3 million bushels of grain that had been held on track would now have to be held on farms. 3) Rebuilding to the point of not allowing the handling to capacity ratios of elevators to exceed 4.0 would mean the replacement of 7.4 million bushels of capacity of a total of 68.0 million lost... 4) Policies of farm groups, elevator firms and various government agencies have a definite role to play in deciding the ratio levels at which elevators will operate.