VIA Rail train leaves Churchill

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A VIA Rail train stranded in Churchill, Man., was loaded aboard a ship in the northern community's port on Oct. 17, 2017.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/10/2017 (1814 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A VIA Rail train stranded in Churchill, Man., was loaded aboard a ship in the northern community’s port on Oct. 17, 2017.

Via Rail has had five passenger cars and two locomotives — festooned with a celebratory Canada 150 banner — stuck in Churchill since May 23, when overland flooding from an unusual spring melt washed out multiple bridges and damaged track along the 300-kilometre line that connects Gillam to Churchill.

Video courtesy Jason Ransom

 

In July, Denver-based Omnitrax said it was “not economically feasible” to repair its railway. Ottawa maintains the company is contractually obligated to cover the repair cost, estimated at between $20 million and $60 million.

The rail line is the only overland link to Churchill; since it has been out of service goods and people have been forced to travel to and from Churchill by air at a high cost.

 

The first VIA Rail cars are loaded onto transport to be taken away from Churchill on Oct. 17. (Katie de Muelles / Winnipeg Free Press)

 

The first Via Rail cars are loaded onto transport to be taken away from Churchill on Oct. 17. (Katie de Muelles / Winnipeg Free Press)

 

Extensive engineering reports indicate that repair work will take at least 60 days to complete and the imminent winter weather will now prevent that from happening this year.

OmniTrax has said it could restore limited service to the northern Manitoba community within 30 days, but it is not willing to pay the estimated $10 million bill to do so.

Even if the temporary fix is made, the rail line would still require another $43.5 million of work next year to restore it to full, safe and operable conditions, according to engineering reports.

VIA Rail cars sit at the Port of Churchill on Oct. 16, 2017, next to the MV Nunalik, which will bring them to Montreal. (Katie de Muelles / Winnipeg Free Press)
The MV Nunalik had to first unload its shipment of needs to first unload its shipment of 2.2 million litres of propane and equipment before the VIA Rail train could be loaded. (Katie de Muelles / Winnipeg Free Press)
These tracks arrived at the Port of Churchill in mid-September, stoking rumours that VIA Rail would remove its train by boat. (Supplied)
A VIA Rail train sits idle at the train station in Churchill, Man., on June 22, 2017. (Alex de Vries / The Canadian Press)
A VIA Rail train sits idle at the train station in Churchill, Man., on June 22, 2017. (Alex de Vries / The Canadian Press)
A motorcyclist and adventure seeker from Colorado rode a dirt bike along the rail line from Thompson to Churchill in mid-June. (Supplied by Steve Green and Richard Whittaker)
OmniTrax, the owners of the Hudson Bay Railway line, released photos in mid-June showing flooding that submerged a section of the track. (OmniTrax)
Photo of the rail line under water posted to the Pictures of Fort Churchill, Manitoba Facebook page May 30, 2017. (Facebook)
OmniTrax, the owners of the Hudson Bay Railway line, released photos in mid-June showing flooding that submerged a section of the track. (OmniTrax)
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