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Train derailment halts rail service to Churchill

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A freight train derailment just south of Churchill has halted rail service to the Northern Manitoba community for the next little while.

The incident occurred Monday afternoon on the Hudson Bay Railway Company line, 35 kilometres south of Churchill near Goose Creek. The train was hauling 50 cars of grain through the region when the derailment occurred, with 13 cars coming off the tracks.

According to a source familiar with the situation, four of the cars tipped over onto their side, spilling its cargo.

The train was headed to the grain storage facility at the Port of Churchill.

There were no injuries.

As a result of the derailment, Via Rail service has been disrupted for the foreseeable future.

A spokeswoman with the Canadian passenger train company said that due to "operational reasons" service between Winnipeg and Churchill has been cancelled until further notice. Not all service has been halted; Via Rail indicated that a train will run from Thompson to The Pas Wednesday.

Thanks to the derailment, 22 people heading to the Hudson Bay coastline were delayed in Thompson for a short time. Via Rail has since flown those passengers up to Churchill.

The spokeswoman indicated company representatives have contacted passengers waiting to return south and are making other travel arrangements for them.

The rail line is owned and operated by Omnitrax. Omnitrax owns and operates over 1,000 kilometres of track in Northern Manitoba, spanning from The Pas north to Hudson Bay.

Tuesday afternoon, Omnitrax issued a statement on the matter, indicating that it "may take a few days" to clean up and restore the line.

From the statement:

"We take incidents like this very seriously. Our staff was onsite immediately to assess the incident and begin response procedures. Our staff have started re-railing efforts and clean-up of minor spilled product to ensure the track is passable for freight and passenger traffic as soon as possible.

"The safety of our crews and the protection of the products we transport is of the highest priority in these efforts. At this time we expect it may take a few days to restore full service to Churchill and the Port."

History

Updated on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM CDT: Corrects distance to 35 kilometres

1:40 PM: Adds statement from Omnitrax

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