- THE MAGAZINE
The Hudson Bay Railway (HBR), which serves northern Manitoba, restored all freight operations on July 5, 2014. The first train has arrived in Churchill with goods for the community as well as freight for other customers. HBR's employees worked diligently over the two weeks prior to the reopening of the line to make the necessary repairs to it to ensure safe operations. OmniTRAX Canada, the owner of the line, is now working with VIA to restore passenger service to the line as soon as possible. The company has implemented a plan for ongoing track maintenance and believes the substantial resurfacing work completed during June and July will greatly improve the reliability of the line for all customers.
On the evening of June 2, 13 grain cars of a 50-car load derailed on the Hudson Bay Railway approximately 35 kilometers south of Churchill. This derailment interrupted service on the line between Gillam and Churchill. After rerailing efforts and the necessary track repairs were completed, freight service resumed on the line within 10 days. However, due to a difficult spring thaw from a particularly harsh winter and severe challenges related to the permafrost in the area, HBR determined to temporarily suspend freight services again on June 20 for substantial track resurfacing work to ensure safe operations.
By June 23, HBR engineers completed a solid track inspection, and work crews had already been deployed with a train carrying ballast from Gillam on its way to the affected area. In order to ensure speedy return of services, HBR reached out to industry partners for additional equipment and operators and worked out the logistics of getting the additional help to the site.
Over the next week, HBR employees and outside contractors worked tirelessly to reopen freight services on Bay Line.
VIA Rail Canada, which manages passenger service between The Pas and Churchill, will be completing an independent track inspection later this week to determine timing and next steps for the resumption of passenger rail service to Churchill.
“We would like to thank our exceptional staff, contractors and industry partners for their hard work and for their commitment to restoring full service on the Hudson Bay Railway. We would also like to thank our customers for their patience during the rail service suspension. We know it was a challenge for many, and for that we apologize. The safety of our employees and customers remains our number one priority, and we will resume service on the line once the required track resurfacing has been completed in compliance with Transport Canada regulatory and safety standards," said Merv Tweed, president, OmniTRAX Canada
“Since taking over the railway and the Port of Churchill in 1997, OmniTRAX Canada has invested $110 million into improvements, in addition to the $40 million invested by the provincial and federal governments. These investments have resulted in a significant improvement in the safety and stability of the line, in addition to speeding up transit times to the North for both people and goods. We are committed to continuing our work to improve this critical infrastructure," said Tweed.