The purchase price is not based on the amount of money which would make it worthwhile for CN, it's based on the amount of money that CN can get out of the Province, knowing that the governmnent has promised the public to provide regular GO service to London.
To this last point, I'm wondering if it would be a good strategic tactic to temporarily cancel the London-Kitchener GO Train service and introduce an hourly(?) bus service from London to Kitchener (which would also replace the PC Connect bus service which currently follows that route), and also a once-daily commuter train via Brantford, taking over the schedule of the former VIA commuter run which VIA apparently doesn't want to reinstate. The government can say that the promise of London GO train service was kept thanks to the south mainline GO service, and it continues to connect London and Kitchener with a faster GO service anyway.
I suspect that CN does want to sell the line, so if they see that upgrading the Kitchener-London railway isn't the Province's only option, they may lower the selling price to entice them to take the line over.
I like the way you think ;-)
But I suspect the cat is out of the bag, in the sense that CN knows that a token commuter train via Brantford won’t fulfil the QP promise (as the public interprets it) nor is it sufficient relief for current and future congestion between Toronto and London. So CN is likely to just say “OK, sure” and sit back and wait.… no skin off their back if it’s not the solution Ontario needs….. just wait til the pressure on QP has grown.
CN is just too good at thinking up other nasty negotiating levers to use in return. I imagine track condition slow orders and maintenance charges are already being used as a lever.
I think the better solution would be to just swallow hard and cough up the asking price, within the range of whatever haggling one can achieve, recognizing that the true benchmark price is whatever the CTA would award if the price went to tribunal. The price may be nauseating, but it’s worth the premium to get improvements made quickly, and to have control of those improvements.
The worst case would be to have to pay CN inflated prices to upgrade the line, and only then have the purchase price negotiation….once the improvements are made, CN will have Ontario doubly over the barrel.