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Industry Achievement
Tom Payne (2002)
Thomas PayneThomas Payne is known as the 'founder of the modern Canadian short-line railway industry.'

Mr. Payne began his career in the railway industry in train service with Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1970s, and later qualified as a locomotive engineer. In the mid-1980s, after taking a keen interest in short-line railway operations in the United States, Mr. Payne began a three-year quest to operate 'his own' railway company. This quest involved lengthy regulatory work and approvals, obtaining an operating charter from the Alberta government, and finding, financing, and purchasing a suitable railway line segment to operate.

A Central Western trainIn November 1986, Mr. Payne's dream was realized as the Central Western Railway Corporation began operations of the former Canadian National Railways Stettler Subdivision between Ferlow Junction (south of Camrose) and Morrin, Alberta. Mr. Payne was at the throttle as the first train of grain rolled through the old railway terminal of Big Valley, Alberta, on its way north for interchange with the CN.

Central Western Railway Corporation grew to include an extensive grain-gathering network in central Alberta, and eventually became RaiLink Ltd., which was the third largest railway network in Canada until being purchased by RailAmerica, Inc., in 1999.

Tom Payne receives a commemorative clock from Mike Stroick of the CPR, on the occasion of the opening of the Central Western Railway's Lacombe Subdivision, March 1992Mr. Payne retired from the RaiLink group in 1997 to pursue new interests. His foresight, dedication, and pioneering efforts paved the way for the modern and vibrant short line railway industry that transportation network in Canada enjoys today.


Meeting Creek, AB, 1989







Photos: 3 - S.I. Smith; 4 - Central Western Railway Corporation

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