IT’S been more than a year since Churchill has welcomed a passenger train. Soon, the wait will be over.

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This article was published 30/11/2018 (1029 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

IT’S been more than a year since Churchill has welcomed a passenger train. Soon, the wait will be over.

The first Via Rail train bound for the northern Manitoba town since its rail link was severed by flood damage in May 2017 leaves Winnipeg on Sunday, with a Churchill-inspired makeover.

An Arctic-themed dining car was unveiled Friday at Winnipeg’s Union Station as a part of an education campaign from the University of Manitoba. It is titled Expedition Churchill: A Gateway to Arctic Research. The dining car has been wrapped in a picture of a northern scene involving polar bears and explorers. It features a free, downloadable ebook with information about the climate change research being done in Churchill, located 1,600 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

"This is great news. Not only is Expedition Churchill a vehicle for spreading the good word of science and research, but this is all great, every part of it," Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said Friday.

"Naturally, (the train) is a way of life, first of all, but the second part is it’s a vehicle a lot of people utilize to visit our community in terms of tourism. We’re pretty excited."

"Our community has been in such turmoil because of the loss of the rail and not having these services," said Dwight Allen, chief executive officer of Sea North Tours, a beluga whale tourism company based in the town of roughly 900.

"Now we’re coming full circle, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

Expedition Churchill has been in the works for the past two years, and was created in partnership with Churchill Northern Studies Centre, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Travel Manitoba and Via Rail. The ebook includes 10 chapters of videos, field notes and interactive infographics.

Elliott Manko Erickson, 8, and his dad were among the crowd exploring the dining car Friday. While his dad chatted with the researchers, Manko Erickson sat absorbed in the ebook.

"Well, a lot of the time I was looking at Arctic species," he said, adding he has never been to Churchill but wants to visit the town. "I’m interested in the very deep-sea ones, not the top ones, because those ones are very known."

danton.unger@freepress.mb.ca