WINNIPEG – BUSINESS – “The Government shares the concerns of the citizens of Churchill and northern Manitoba, where the loss of the rail link has had significant impacts on businesses and families. We remain committed to the people of northern Manitoba and are currently exploring ways in which we can speed up the repairs of the rail line, while keeping in mind the immediate needs of the communities,” says federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr.
The Minister in a move today, has signalled that the government will be taking action to restore rail service on the line to Churchill.
In a media statement the Ministry states, “The Government of Canada’s top priorities are ensuring that goods and supplies are delivered to those who need them and restoring the Hudson Bay rail line to Churchill.”
Rail Line Damaged by Flooding
The rail line was closed in June when flooding impacted the line. Omnitrax stated then that, “A preliminary assessment by an independent Engineering firm, indicates that the track bed has been washed away in 19 locations. Five bridges are visibly damaged and an additional 30 bridges and 600 culverts, structures that allow water to pass under the track, will need to be further assessed for structural integrity”.
“The damage is unprecedented and catastrophic,” said Peter Touesnard, Chief Commercial Officer at OmniTRAX. “While the Hudson Bay Railway requires significant seasonal maintenance, the extent of the damage created by flooding this year is by far the worst we have ever seen. The water receded to near normal levels only yesterday, and we hope to have engineers on the ground as soon as possible to conduct a thorough assessment. It will be several weeks before we have a final report of the damage to the line, but we do not expect to be operational before the winter, and are concerned that the future of the track is in jeopardy.”
“With the initial assessment, we received from the Engineering consultant today, we made the decision to announce an indefinite service suspension so communities served by the railway can develop long-term plans for the movement of the supplies and resources they need,” added Mr. Touesnard.
The federal government states, “OmniTRAX Inc. has legal obligations to repair the rail line and its tracks. To this end, we have formally demanded that the Hudson Bay Railway Company repair the rail line in line with the terms of its 2008 contribution agreement with the Government of Canada, which requires the company to operate, maintain and repair the entire Hudson Bay Railway Line in a diligent and timely manner until March 31, 2029.”
“The Government is willing to look at all options, including exploring the possibility of working with a new owner toward the repair of the rail line. To this end, senior government officials are engaging to find a solution on rail track repairs, ensuring a continuation of rail service for Churchill and surrounding communities,” says the Minister.