Feds say they’ll help restore Hudson Bay rail line to Churchill

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A map of the Hudson Bay Railway.
OmniTRAX website
CHURCHILL, Manitoba — Canada’s federal government is willing to help restore rail service on the Hudson Bay Railway to Churchill, agricultural news source Commodity News Service Canada reports. The rail line, which is currently owned by OmniTRAX, has been out of service between The Pas, Man., and Churchill since late May due to flood damage.

OmniTRAX officials estimate track repairs could cost as much as $60 million. In the past few months, railroad officials have also said they were not prepared to restore rail service without government assistance.

Now, the federal government says it is willing to act quickly to restore rail service, but they have a few stipulations.

First, the government wants rail assets transferred at a reasonable price from OmniTRAX to a new operator. The government also wants the new operator to have support from First Nations and other communities along the route as well as a viable business plan focusing on safety, reliably, and cost-effectiveness.

Those requests could help lead to more than $500 million in government funding to restore the rail line in the next 10 years.

This is the first time the Canadian government has committed to helping restore the troubled rail corridor.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously said OmniTRAX was responsible for repairing the rail line due to legal obligations with the rural communities along the route.

But now, the government is concerned the railroad has not yet started repairs and that the line’s rehabilitation could be impacted by the upcoming winter season.

According to the government, a 2008 agreement with OmniTRAX required the railroad to maintain and operate rail service to Churchill until 2029, while the government would offer financial support to the Hudson Bay Railway.

OmniTRAX purchased the former Canadian National rail line and government-owned port facilities in 1997.

A First Nations consortium called Missinippi Rail reached a deal with the railroad earlier this summer to transfer assets for $20 million through a loan agreement with OmniTRAX. The two entities reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding in June.

But before rail service can resume, railroad officials will have to repair at least 19 washouts, five bridges, and inspect 30 additional bridges and 600 culverts.

The Hudson Bay Railway is a 627-mile rail line from The Pas north to Churchill in Manitoba on a former Canadian Northern Railway right-of-way.

See the original story online.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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