Wisconsin Central Ltd.

Wisconsin Central Ltd. (reporting mark WC) is a railroad subsidiary of Canadian National. At one time, its parent Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation owned or operated railroads in the United States, Canada (Algoma Central Railway), the United Kingdom (English Welsh & Scottish), New Zealand (Tranz Rail), and Australia (Australian Transport Network).

Wisconsin Central Ltd
Wisconsin Central Ltd. logo.png
Wisconsin Central 1998 map.png
System map of Wisconsin Central's trackage in 1998
WC 7510 leads a short manifest train westbound across Michigan's Upper Peninsula.jpg
A trio of Wisconsin Central EMD SD45s on the Michigan's Upper Peninsula
HeadquartersFond du Lac, Wisconsin
Reporting markWC
LocaleWisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Ontario
Dates of operation1987–2001 (Standalone company) 2001-Present (As parent company CN subsidiary Wisconsin Central Ltd.)
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length2,850 mi (4,590 km)


Wisconsin Central EMD GP30 on display at the National Railroad Museum in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Central EMD GP38-2 at Stevens Point, Wisconsin in September 2015

Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WC) started in US in the mid-1980s using most of the original Wisconsin Central Railway's rights of way and some former Milwaukee Road rights of way after the Soo Line Railroad acquired the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Minnesota holdings of the bankrupt Milwaukee Road and divested its older railway trackage in Wisconsin. In 1993 the Wisconsin Central also acquired the Green Bay and Western Railroad and the Fox River Valley Railroad.

In 1995, Wisconsin Central acquired the 322-mile (518 km) Canadian Algoma Central Railway whose tracks ran north of Sault Saint Marie to Hearst, Ontario. The Algoma Central runs a popular tourist passenger train through the Agawa Canyon and Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park near Lake Superior Provincial Park.

In 1996, Chicago commuter rail agency Metra inaugurated service on the WC's Waukesha Subdivision as the North Central Service.

In 2001, the Wisconsin Central was purchased by Canadian National. Along with the former Illinois Central Railroad, the former Wisconsin Central became part of Canadian National's United States holdings and its property integrated into the CN system.

At the time of its sale to Canadian National, Wisconsin Central operated over 2,850 miles (4,590 km) of track in the Great Lakes region. The railroad extended from Chicago into and through Wisconsin to Minneapolis-Saint Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and north (through the Algoma Central Railway) to Hearst, Ontario.



  1. ^ Watson, Rip (August 30, 1993). "WISCONSIN CENTRAL CLOSES DEAL, TAKES OVER FOX VALLEY & WESTERN | JOC.com". www.joc.com. The Journal of Commerce Online. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  2. ^ WCTC consortium to buy NZ Rail Railway Age August 1993 page 10
  3. ^ Wisconsin Central acquires Algoma Central Railway Age March 1995 page 6
  4. ^ Confirmed - Wisconsin Central buys Rail express systems Rail issue 268 December 20, 1995 page 9
  5. ^ Wisconsin Central to add TLF to UK portfolio Rail Privatisation News issue 21 January 25, 1996 page 1
  6. ^ EWS the preferred bidder for Railfreight Distribution The Railway Magazine issue 1151 May 1997 page 12
  7. ^ Here & There Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 720 October 1997 page 382
  8. ^ ATN Buys Emu Bay Tasmanian Rail News issue 201 May 1998 page 2
  9. ^ Wisconsin Central sold Milwaukee Journal Sentinel January 31, 2001
  10. ^ "CN merges three US subsidiaries". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 4 January 2012.

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