The provincial government has accepted offers from three Saskatchewan shortline railways to purchase the Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation’s fleet of 898 hopper cars for $9.7 million.

Big Sky Rail Corp. will buy 663 hopper cars, while Great Western Railway Ltd. will purchase 150 cars. The remaining 85 cars are being bought by Great Sandhills Railway. The $9.7 million in total sales averages $10,800 per car.

“With approximately 14 years’ of service life remaining the fleet still has value in the industry,” David Marit, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation, said in a news release Wednesday.

“Selling the cars to our shortlines means they will continue to move commodities grown by Saskatchewan producers.”

The sales process was initiated in late March, with Saskatchewan’s 13 commercial shortlines given first priority to purchase the hopper cars.

All offers were reviewed by an evaluation committee which included representation from the Saskatchewan Grain Car Corporation, Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, an independent consultant, legal counsel and a fairness advisor to supervise and monitor the fairness of the competition.

Final details of sales agreements are currently being hammered out, and the sales are expected to be finalized in the next two or three months.