Metrolinx, the provincial Crown corporation responsible for the Toronto-area commuter rail system, has bought a rail line from railway giant CN for $68 million.

Metrolinx said yesterday it had acquired the lower portion of the Newmarket rail subdivision in central-north Toronto from Montreal-based CN, Canada’s largest rail company.

The transaction gives Metrolinx full ownership of the 96-kilometre-long Barrie-Bradford GO Train corridor between downtown Toronto and Barrie, the provincial transit agency said in a release.

“This transaction marks a milestone for the agency, giving us — for the first time — end-to-end ownership of a GO Transit rail line,” said Metrolinx president and chief executive Robert Prichard, a past president and chief executive of Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star newspaper and other publishing and media properties.

“This transaction with CN — an important partner of ours — will permit improvements to service between Toronto and Barrie and points in between. Improved commuter rail and mass transit are vital to easing traffic congestion and air pollution in the (Toronto area) while improving the productivity and economic competitiveness of the region,” Prichard said.

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