NFBC Negotiates Deal on Whirlpool Bridge Railway

Rail ownership transfers from Canadian National Railway to Amtrak/VIA

LEWISTON, NY – The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission <> , operator of three of the four Niagara River bridges between Western New York and Southern Ontario, successfully negotiated an updated arrangement to continue operation of a passenger railway service crossing the Whirlpool Bridge.

The upper deck of the Whirlpool Bridge carries railway traffic while the lower deck provides access for NEXUS-only passenger vehicles. 

Canadian National Railway Co. <>  (CN), the current owner of the bridge’s rail line, stopped moving freight trains across the Whirlpool Bridge several years ago, but continued to maintain the rail line for the Maple Leaf <>  passenger train, operated by AMTRAK and VIA, that runs from New York City to Toronto via the Whirlpool Bridge.

CN did not foresee future use of the Whirlpool Bridge crossing for freight operations and initiated the abandonment process for the rail and rail bed in Canada and the United States. NFBC negotiated agreements with CN, AMTRAK and VIA that permit the transfer of the rail bed across the bridge from CN to Amtrak/VIA. VIA handles passenger rail service in Southern Ontario.

“The Commission, CN and Amtrak/VIA representatives have worked hard over the last four years to ensure the continued operation of the passenger rail service on the Whirlpool Bridge,” said NFBC General Manager Lew Holloway. “This process is now complete and train service will not be interrupted during the transition.”

CN’s rail assets that cross the bridge and its approaches will be transferred to Amtrak/VIA, who will be responsible for any required maintenance and upgrades to the rails, rail bed and trainman’s railing.

“We are very pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial agreement with NFBC, Amtrak and VIA,” said Francois Hebert, vice-president Network Strategies for CN. “The new arrangement will allow CN to transfer the rail assets to the agencies responsible for providing passenger rail service over the bridge.”The agreements were executed and took effect Dec. 1, 2012. About the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission

A Joint Resolution of the 1938 U.S. Congressional Third Session created the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. The Extra Provincial Corporations Act of the Province of Ontario, Canada licenses the NFBC. Canada and the U.S. are equally represented on the NFBC by an eight-member Board of Commissioners.  Initially established to finance, construct and operate the Rainbow Bridge, the Commission proved sufficiently efficient and effective to assume responsibilities for the Whirlpool Rapids (Lower) and Lewiston-Queenston Bridges.  The NFBC builds and maintains all facilities for Customs and Immigration functions on both sides of the international border. The NFBC is self-supportive, largely through user fees (tolls) and private-sector tenant leases. NFBC is federally chartered to conduct international commercial financial transactions and issue federal (U.S.) tax-exempt bonds.

Media Contact:    

Steve Bell

Eric Mower and Associates



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