Feasibility Study for a Northern Quebec Railway Link

Feasibility Study for a Northern Quebec Railway Link

The bankable feasibility study comprised the engineering (produced at a +15/-10% level) and cost estimate for the construction of a multi-user railway for the purpose of transporting iron ore concentrate over 300 km from the Labrador Trough to the port of Pointe Noire on the St-Lawrence River. The railway would initially carry 20 million metric tonnes per year from multiple mine sites.


Due to climate constraints, the coordination and supervision of the site investigations were carried out during the warmer seasons (land surveying, geotechnical, wood cutting, and helicopter flyovers). The completion of these tasks enabled CANARAIL to acquire data useful for the detailed engineering of the main track, sidings, and water crossings.

The specific services provided by CANARAIL were as follows:

  • Summary of studies and historical data relative to the route definition which led to the current designated route;
  • Evaluation of the available freight capacity for additional tonnage on existing rail lines;
  • Simulation cycle times of the optimized route with a software-based signalling system of moving blocks, operation and maintenance plan, and determination of the maximum carrying capacity at the lowest possible capital cost;
  • Evaluation of the available capacity in existing ports;
  • Long-term forecast of the price of iron and the probable demand trends;
  • Assessment of technical-economic options;
  • Engineering Procurement Construction Management (EPCM) of the 2014-2015 field investigation operations, which it included:
    • Surveying services and geotechnical investigations;
    • Wood cutting services;
    • Helicopter transportation services;
    • Geotechnical investigations.
  • Evaluation of the drainage basin along the new route;
  • Determination of cut and fill volumes required during the project;
  • Evaluation of tunnels, bridges, and culverts;
  • Evaluation of material type and minimum material requirements needed for the rail foundation as well as quantities of each rail component;
  • Needs assessment for internal and external signalling, communications, telecommunications, and operations management (traffic control);
  • Evaluation of operation and maintenance of labour and equipment;
  • Assessment of electric and diesel locomotive options as well as optimal wagon type and unloading configuration;
  • Evaluation of the catenary network’s power requirements;
  • Integration of transportation activities to the loading operations at the mine and the unloading site at the port,
  • Elaboration of a constructability plan which includes camps, transport, logistic, and others;
  • Legal considerations of land access rights for the planned railroad route;
  • Environmental and social considerations during construction;
  • Financial modelling including different project funding options;
  • Review of equipment purchase or rental options related to:
    • Rolling stock, traction power and track maintenance;
    • Telecommunication towers or fibre-optic equipment;
    • Railway traffic coordination services.
  • Elaboration and assembly of the business plan.
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