Main Menu

History of the Southern Alberta Rail (sar)

Southern Alberta Rail (sar) operates former Canadian Pacific lines in Southern Alberta and British Columbia. Formerly known as CP’s Southern Main the line runs from Dunmore Alberta through to the Unites States border at Eastport Idaho where a connection with Union Pacific is maintained. Nelson and Trail BC are also served via a secondary route that splits off near Yahk BC. Traffic is mainly bulk commodities generated online, export traffic destined for the Western US and bridge traffic from the UP. With sar’s more customer oriented operating style, online loose carload traffic has also seen a steady increase.

The Initial Operations

Initial operations were conducted with hand me down equipment in the form of GP30, 35’s and SD40’s from various sources and a few C30-7’s from UP. New SD40-2’s came with rising traffic levels in the early 80’s and second hand ex LMX B39-8’s were purchased to supplement these units in the mid 90’s. GE Dash-9-44CW’s were leased at about the same time but were turned in after their ten year leases ran out (Sep/Oct N Scale Railroading).

The Booming Crowsnest Pass

With a boom in Crowsnest Pass coal traffic sar has recently purchased new AC propulsion locomotives in the form of EMD SD70mac’s in both conventional 4000 HP versions as well as flared radiator 4300 HP versions. With the steep terrain sar operates through AC locomotives have proved to be much more economical to run than older DC units. Future plans include the purchase of SD70ACe’s as the older EMD’s reach the end of their lifespans.

sar’s future looks bright as it nears it’s 25 year anniversary.