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Ontario Southland Railway

by R.L.Kennedy

Ontario Southland is an independent, locally-owned Canadian company.


Commencing in April 1994, Ontario Southland took over switching from CN and CP of the Petro Canada plant in Clarkson, (Mississauga) Ontario, located on the Canadian National Oakville Subdivision, a Joint Section also used by Canadian Pacific. Operations began using former TH&B 51 an upgraded EMD NW2. The contract was renewed until April 2008.

Ontario Southland went on from this modest beginning to take over operation of the Guelph Junction Railway, owned by
the city of Guelph, it is one of the very few municipally-owned railways in Canada. Under OSR traffic has grown considerably. Later, OSR took over operation of the CPR's Port Burwell Subdivision and later still CPR's St.Thomas Subdivision to which the Port Burwell line connects. Operations were further expanded with take over of CN's switching for the CAMI automotive plant in Ingersoll. OSR had already been doing CPR's switching with its lease of the St.Thomas Sub.

From time to time OSR leased locomotives to shortlines and industry for short periods as well as a longer lease
to W. G. Thompson & Sons.

What's New?

Below these recent photos are a number of sub-articles covering the various operations.
BE SURE to click on link in title at top of each section to see and read everything.

Cayuga Spur

(Updated June 30, 2020)

OSR ended all freight service on April 30 and returned line to CN May 1, 2020.

CN issued notice June 26, 2020 offering to sell the line from '
near Mile 87.22 End of Track (Delhi) to near Mile 114.60 Sarum.

1401_6508 eastbound crossing Otter Creek bridge with one tank car lifted at Aylmer westbound and 14 tank cars
lifted from Future Transfer in Tillsonburg yard. Three photos; Thursday, April 30, 2020 Larry Broadbent

Passing Elgin Feeds in Aylmer.

Passing Dowler-Karn's recently displayed van ex THB 63. Tower Road, Yarmouth Centre.

1245_1210 westbound near Corinth with a deceptive looking consist! Not much revenue here. In fact none!
One empty tank ex ethanol plant in Aylmer lifted on eastbound movement. Some empty covered hoppers
ex Courtland part of 40 car block received in seasonal movement and several empty storage tank cars.

History and Photography of Individual Lines.

Guelph Jnnction Railway

(Updated June 19, 2018)

NOTE: 2019 traffic up 12% to 5192 carloads!

1998-2018 20 Years!

January 1, 2018 marked the twentieth anniversary of Ontario Southland's operation of Guelph Junction Railway.

Completion of 2017 saw a record number of 4,809 carloads handled, up 31% over 2016. A net profit of almost one million dollars ($958,000) resulted. This in turn resulted in payment of a dividend for the first time in those 20 years. $100,000 was paid to its sole owner, the City of Guelph. OSR's contract was renewed once again, this time for 3 years with a 2 year option. In recent years GJR has been responsible for all track, signal and structure maintenance contracting it out separately.

This success was due to OSR's excellent customer service along with the City's dedication to providing rail service to its existing industries as well as attracting new and expanding businesses to Guelph. Key to this success is access to both major railways to get competitive service and freight rates.

The future looks bright!

A major expansion resulted from a unique opportunity when OSR took over the long-invisible Guelph Junction Railway owned by the City of Guelph and long leased to the Canadian Pacific Railway. When declining traffic caused the CPR to give up its lease Ontario Southland stepped in effective January 1, 1998 and they have not looked back since expanding operation and growing business with excellent service. An important missing link was completed when a short piece of the CPR Goderich Sub. was purchased by Guelph ensuring a connection to the City of Guelph jount switching industrial area in the northwest part of the city also served by Goderich and Exeter a shortline operating the Canadian National main line through Guelph. This resulted in far more competitive service and business has grown substantially.

647_644 southbound to Guelph Junction. Stone Road, Guelph. 10/10/2019 David J. Parker

RS-23's 503_505 passing along the scenic Speed River and River Run area in Guelph. Two views; 2/21/2001

OSRX 4900 (ex CP 434900) brings up the rear of short train in this second view.


Port Burwell Line

(Updated May 4, 2020)

A further OSR expansion came about when the CPR decided to shortline its Port Burwell Subdivision between Ingersoll
and Tillsonburg. The line had been abandoned December 25, 1987 beyond to Port Burwell. This line connects with the CPR St.Thomas Subdivision at Ingersoll which leads to Woodstock where it connects with the CPR Galt Subdivision main line.
OSR leased the line effective February 26, 1998.

Two new tracks being built May 2020 at Future Transfer in Tillsonburg.

OSR built a small diesel shop at Salford where a welcoming township smoothed the way with lower taxes than elsewhere.
It would later be expanded from two tracks and four units to five tracks.

Dowler-Karn, a family-owned local fuel dealer has always supplied OSR diesels.

St. Thomas Subdivision

(Updated June 27, 2020)

Note: New images here temporary and are duplicated in location order at above link.

A major expansion came about the CPR shortlined its St. Thomas Sub. and OSR leased it effective December 15, 2009.
This gave OSR a direct connection with the CPR for its Port Burwell line as well as more traffic especially at Putnam.where two agricultural facilities receive considerable traffic.

The biggest gain traffic wise was the large CAMI automotive assembly plant in Ingersoll which required another daily train.
Later still CPR ended CN's access over its track to reach CAMI giving OSR exclusive switching of this growing plant. This requires two crews to switch CAMI two shifts seven days a week and interchange to/from CPR at Coakley via operating
rights on the Galt Sub. Other traffic is handled in Woodstock yard where OSR also has running rights.

1400_1594 southbound from Woodstock working hard with an impressive train of 54 loads!

1244_1210 showing off their new stack spark arrestors!

378_383 departing Putnam for St.Thomas. 1/14/2020

All three "covered wagons" (1400_6508_1401) are on their way back to Ingersoll after a run down to Putnam.
1/18/2015 James Adeney

1400_1594 southbound with loads for Messenger plus cars for Cayuga line.



CN Cayuga Spur
St.Thomas-Aylmer-Tillsonburg - Delhi



Power gallery

Roster of diesel units
updated April 15/2020 new

Gallery OSR Rolling Stock
Track machines and trucks

Tillsonburg-Ingersoll Gallery


Car Movers
OSR & Customers



NOTE: Follow these links for a more detailed history of the
Guelph and Tillsonburg lines along with photos of the CPR era.

CPR employee time table 1959 Goderich Subdivision Port Burwell Subdivision


Ontario Southland Railway Official Web Site



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