Ken Eshpeter has run a family farm in central Alberta for almost
40 years. He and dozens of other small farmers in the Battle River Valley relied on CN Rail to transport their grain south to Camrose.
At least they did until 2003. That’s when CN announced it was cutting service on the Camrose branch line. Everyone in the community knew what that meant — no trains, no farms. And eventually the 132 miles of high quality welded steel rail would be torn up and sold for scrap in the US.
If the farmers of Battle River were going to survive, they were going to have to fight “big rail.” They would have to work together. They incorporated a New Generation co-operative and sold shares to 153 farmers and 122 supporters, raising $3.5 million in the process, which they used to leverage a loan of $1.5 million from the Alberta Farmer Finance Corporation.
In 2010, the Battle River Railway Co-op bought the rail line and two locomotives for $5 million. Ken Eshpeter is the proud Chairman of Alberta’s only railway run by a farmer’s co-op — and business is booming!