On September 16, Aecon Fabco marked the opening of its Pictou marine railway with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Refurbished at a cost of several million dollars, the railway will open up new opportunities for Aecon Fabco to repair, service and build ships on Canada’s east coast.
Considering the federal government’s push to breath new life into Canada’s shipbuilding industry, said Senator Fred Dickson, speaking on behalf of National Defence Minister Peter MacKay, the company’s upgrade couldn’t have been completed at a better time.
Aecon Fabco’s fabrication facility in Pictou, Nova Scotia came with a bonus, a 305 foot long marine railway used to haul ships on to a side transfer location on dry land. But the railway had sat unused for years and was in desperate need of refurbishment.
“When we first came here in 2008, our intention was to use the Pictou facility as a module fabrication area,” says Ken McCormick, Aecon Fabco’s general manager. “We weren’t focused on the marine business to start with but once we could see the potential, we knew we had to make a significant investment to bring the railway back into operation.”
In December last year, Aecon Fabco started work on the $3 million refurbishment of the railway, the largest capital investment in its history. It dismantled the old cradle, doubled its capacity, and replaced the old wooden track with a new steel one.
“One of the advantages of the Pictou marine railway is its side-transfer capability,” notes Troy Garnett, Aecon Fabco’s business development manager. “Most marine railways can only handle one vessel at a time. The Pictou railway is the only one in the region that can transfer vessels to the side yard, which means we can work on as many as four ships simultaneously.”
Aecon Fabco is now bidding on ship repair contracts with the long-term goal of getting into the ship building business. It has just been awarded its first contract specifically related to the marine railway, which will involve refurbishment of a tugboat. Work is scheduled to begin in mid-October of this year.