WINNIPEG – The railway line connecting to the Port of Churchill was damaged last year. Several weeks ago a consortium, the Arctic Gateway Group tookover ownership and operations of the railway purchasing the line from Omnitrax.
On Saturday, there was a derailment on the line. Reports are that the train which went off the rails on a bridge crossing a creek had three locomotives and twenty-seven cars. It was carrying Liquified Petroleum. None of those cars are reported to be leaking.
There were members of the crew trapped in the train. One employee has died, another was taken by air ambulance to the hospital, and a third man is being rescued.
Details are continuing to come out. Emergency First Responders have been on the scene and working to contain the derailment and rescue the injured.
Over the past several weeks, crews have been working to repair damage to the rail line.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has a team headed to the scene
Here is the statement from Arctic Gateway Group:
It is with a heavy heart that the Arctic Gateway Group advises that a derailment has occurred on the Hudson Bay Railway.
The derailment occurred at approximately 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, September 15th, near Ponton, Manitoba. Ponton is approximately 145 miles southwest of Thompson and approximately 545 miles northwest of Winnipeg. In addition to the Arctic Gateway Group personnel who attended at the site of the derailment, multiple emergency services agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, local fire department and health authorities, and a hazardous materials-handling team, were dispatched and assisted in efforts to respond to the incident.
The Arctic Gateway Group is cooperating with the emergency services teams on site and will also be conducting a full internal review to determine the cause of the derailment.
Sadly, one of our employees working on the locomotive has been confirmed by authorities as deceased. A second employee has sustained serious injuries and has been airlifted to hospital. The RCMP is in the process of notifying the families. The Arctic Gateway Group will be also be making direct contact with family members and all of our employees and communities in the coming days as we all attempt to cope with this tragedy.
The train that derailed had three locomotives and several dozen railcars, some of which were carrying liquefied petroleum. At this time, based on information we have received, we believe that none of these railcars has been compromised. The Arctic Gateway Group is monitoring this situation very closely, and we have been advised that at this time there does not appear to be any significant environmental danger to nearby areas resulting from the derailment.
The Arctic Gateway Group’s internal investigation into the circumstances of the derailment will run in parallel with the investigations of the RCMP and other relevant emergency services. Murad Al-Katib, the President and Chief Executive Officer of AGT Foods, one of the partners of the Arctic Gateway Group, will be on the ground today. “On behalf of the entire Arctic Gateway Group, and all of our employees, our hearts go out to the families of these dedicated employees”, said Mr. Al-Katib. “We have said repeatedly that we will not compromise speed for safety and this is a stark reminder for us as we repair the northern section of the rail line to Churchill.”
Senior members of AGT’s Mobil rail team have also been dispatched to the site of the derailment to join the Superintendent of the Hudson Bay Railway who has been present at the scene of the derailment since last night.
Murad Al-Katib will be meeting with the families of the individuals involved in this incident. He will also be meeting with municipal authorities in The Pas and Thompson, along with provincial and federal authorities, in order to coordinate an effective response. Grief counseling for all employees and their families is being made available in conjunction with our community and First Nations partners.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those involved in the accident, and with our employees. We thank all of the first responders and emergency services workers that have assisted in the initial response to this incident, and we remain committed to cooperating with these emergency services teams and all other stakeholders to provide information and support in the wake of this tragic incident.