Hudson Bay Railway sale completed, repairs to begin

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The Town of Churchill announced the sale of the Hudson Bay Railway on its Facebook page.

CHURCHILL, Manitoba — A deal has finally been reached to sell the Hudson Bay Railway, the currently closed line which provides the only ground transportation option to Churchill, on Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba.

A post on the town’s Facebook page Friday said an agreement had been reached to sell the railroad, the Port of Churchill and the Churchill Marine Tank Farm. The Winnipeg Free Press reports the buyers are Arctic Gateway, a consortium of two northern Manitoba groups, Toronto-based financial group Fairfax, and grain company AGT Foods. It is currently owned by Denver-based shortline holding company OmniTRAX.

The Free Press reported that the federal government said in a release that repairs would begin immediately, and that if normal weather patterns hold, passenger and freight rail service should be reestablished before weather precludes further work in November. Further work will be required next year to allow heavier freight cars, such as those needed to move grain or propane, to use the route.

"We will commence the repairs and do all we can to restore service expeditiously and safely. We are racing against time," wrote Fairfax president Paul Rivett in a statement quoted by the newspaper.

The line has been closed since it was damaged by flooding in May 2017 [see “Future of Hudson Bay line in ‘jeopardy’ after catastrophic flood,” Trains News Wire, June 12, 2017], causing prices in the town to soar as all supplies had to be flown in. An earlier deal to sell the line to a consortium of First Nation groups, pending since June 2017, fell through earlier this year. [See “Sale of line to Churchill, Manitoba, falls through,” Trains News Wire, July 5, 2018.]

OmniTRAX had said it could not afford to repair the line, which would cost millions of dollars, although it had been ordered by the Canadian government to do so.

 The complete Free Press report is available here.

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