Sale of line to Churchill, Manitoba, falls through

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A Hudson Bay Railway locomotive works in The Pas, Manitoba, in 2007.
Steve Hobson

CHURCHILL, Manitoba — A deal to sell the Hudson Bay Railway line to Churchill, vital to bringing essential supplies to the isolated Manitoba community, appears to have broken down, according to Canadian media reports.

According to a CBC report, railway owner OmniTrax said in a news release this week, “Despite our best efforts to find common ground on certain key issues, it now appears that this transaction has fallen apart and that a sale of the HBR to this group may not be possible. This outcome is unexpected and very unfortunate. We offer our apologies to all those who depend on the line."

The line has been closed since it was damaged by severe flooding in May 2017. The agreement by a consortium of First Nations groups to buy the rail line and the Port of Churchill was announced in June 2017. [See “First Nations group reaches deal to buy Port of Churchill, rail line,” Trains News Wire, June 6, 2017.]

OmniTrax has said it cannot afford to repair the line, but was ordered to do so in a recent decision by the Canadian government. [See “Canadian government orders OmiTrax to repair line to Churchill,” Trains News Wire, June 15, 2018.] The order required OmniTrax to begin repairs by July 3, but the company is appealing.

In its release, OmniTrax said it would continue to try to find a buyer for the line. The First Nations groups issued a statement saying they “remain at the table and fully support the efforts to conclude a reasonable deal.”

Without the rail line, Churchill businesses must fly in supplies, which has raised costs to unsustainable levels. A recent report said the community faces a shortage of natural gas needed for heating.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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