Future of Hudson Bay line in ‘jeopardy’ after catastrophic flood

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VIA Rail train No. 692 boards passengers at Churchill in March 2015.
Anupama Condon
CHURCHILL, Manitoba – VIA Rail service to Churchill is suspended until further notice following a “catastrophic” flood, CBC News reports. VIA Rail officials say it could be more than a year before the train between Winnipeg and Churchill, located on Hudson Bay, would return.

OmniTrax's Hudson Bay Railway, which owns the line to Churchill, reports that flooding in late May caused at least 19 washouts and damaged five bridges on the line to the remote port at the edge of the Arctic. At least 30 bridges and 600 culverts will have to be inspected before service can resume. In a press release from, Peter Touesnard, ‎chief commercial officer at OmniTrax, says service may not resume until winter.

"The damage is unprecedented and catastrophic," Touesnard says. "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."

CBC News reports that businesses in Churchill, which rely heavily on summer tourism from the train, have already started to layoff workers.

In July 2016, OmniTRAX announced the port was closing and it would reduce the volume of rail shipments on the rail line, reducing freight service on the line.

Earlier this month, Trains News Wire reported of an agreement to transfer ownership of the line from Omnitrax to a First Nations group.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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