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).
|Headquarters||Fond du Lac, Wisconsin|
|Locale||Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Ontario|
|Dates of operation||1987–2001 (Standalone company) 2001-Present (As parent company CN subsidiary Wisconsin Central Ltd.)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||2,850 mi (4,590 km)|
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 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.
- January 10, 1986: The Soo Line, nine days after purchasing the Milwaukee Road, creates the Lake States Transportation Division to operate its mainline between Forest Park, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- April 3, 1987: The Soo Line Railroad announces the sale of its Lake States Transportation Division to private investors, forming the new Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation
- October 11, 1987: The first WC train runs, from Stevens Point to North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
- May 1991: WC shares begin trading under the ticker symbol WCTC, raising $36.2 million
- 1992: Railway Age names Wisconsin Central the Regional Railroad of the Year
- 1993: WC acquires the Fox River Valley Railroad and Green Bay & Western railroads
- 1993: A Wisconsin Central-led consortium acquires New Zealand Rail through a new subsidiary, Wisconsin Central International, and renames it Tranz Rail in 1995
- 1995: WC acquires the Algoma Central Railway through a new subsidiary, Wisconsin Central Canada Holdings
- 1995: A WC-led consortium acquires Rail Express Systems in the United Kingdom from the British Railways Board
- 1996: WC partners with Canadian National (CN) and CSX, inaugurating a new intermodal shipping corridor between the west and east coasts of North America
- 1996: The Loadhaul, Mainline Freight and Transrail Freight freight operators in the UK are purchased from the British Railways Board and merged as English Welsh & Scottish (EWS)
- March 4, 1996: A Wisconsin Central freight train derails in Weyauwega, Wisconsin; the derailment results in a 16-day evacuation
- August 19, 1996: Metra, a commuter railroad agency based in Chicago, inaugurates its North Central Service route on the WC's Waukesha Subdivision.
- 1997: EWS acquires Railfreight Distribution in the UK from the British Railways Board and merges it into EWS
- 1997: Another WC subsidiary, the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Company, acquires 207 miles (333 km) of track from Union Pacific Railroad forming a WC connection between Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Ishpeming, Michigan
- 1997: Australian Transport Network (ATN), in which Wisconsin Central owned a one-third stake, purchased Tasrail in Tasmania, six months later ATN acquired the Emu Bay Railway in Tasmania
- 1999: Railway Age names Wisconsin Central president Edward Burkhardt its Railroader of the Year
- January 30, 2001: Wisconsin Central and Canadian National announce plans for CN to purchase WC for $800 million and the assumption of $400 million of WC's debt, it is completed on October 9, 2001
- December 21, 2011: Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific Railway and Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway, also owned by CN, are merged into Wisconsin Central
- January 1, 2013: Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway is merged into Wisconsin Central Ltd indirectly as parent company CN made the acquisition
- 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.
- WCTC consortium to buy NZ Rail Railway Age August 1993 page 10
- Wisconsin Central acquires Algoma Central Railway Age March 1995 page 6
- Confirmed - Wisconsin Central buys Rail express systems Rail issue 268 December 20, 1995 page 9
- Wisconsin Central to add TLF to UK portfolio Rail Privatisation News issue 21 January 25, 1996 page 1
- EWS the preferred bidder for Railfreight Distribution The Railway Magazine issue 1151 May 1997 page 12
- Here & There Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 720 October 1997 page 382
- ATN Buys Emu Bay Tasmanian Rail News issue 201 May 1998 page 2
- Wisconsin Central sold Milwaukee Journal Sentinel January 31, 2001
- "CN merges three US subsidiaries". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- Soo Line Historical and Technical Society
- WC2scale - Wisconsin Central Motive Power Photo Gallery #1 (extensive online photo source of WC Ltd. equipment)
- RailPictures.Net – Photographs of the Wisconsin Central