Churchill Video of the Week – Lost Beluga Whale

A lone beluga whale took a vacation in London, England this week! The trip began with a leisurely swim up the Thames River around the Gravesland area about 30 miles east of London. The rare sight was captured on this video as well as many others posted on social media.

Helicopters from local news stations hovered above and local officials advised onlookers on boats to keep their distance. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation group was as surprised as anyone witnessing this incredible sighting.

Beluga whales are more commonly found in the Arctic. Churchill, Manitoba is a prime destination for beluga whale wildlife adventures.

Belugas at the back of the zodiac in the Churchill River in Churchill, Manitoba. Stephanie Fernandez photo.

Beluga whales inhabit cold, Arctic waters off Greenland, Svalbard and in the Barents Sea,” the group said in a statement. “There have only been around 20 sightings of beluga whales off the U.K. coast previously, but these have occurred off Northumberland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.”

The last beluga whale spotted in the United Kingdom was off the coast of Northern Ireland three years ago,

Animal welfare organizations including the RSPCA are, “working with other agencies to monitor the situation” and have researchers on the scene to monitor the whale.

Churchill Weekly Photos – Hudson Bay Line

Hudson Bay Line in Manitoba

Aerial view of a washout along the Hudson Bay Rail line. Arctic Gateway photo.

 

Hudson Bay line Manitoba

Heavy equipment lifting damaged track from the line in Manitoba. Arctic Gateway photo.

 

Arctic Gateway workers on Hudson Bay Line

Laying the foundation for one of the many washouts along the Hudson Bay Line in Manitoba. Arctic Gateway photo.

 

Washout on the Hudson Bay Line

Steamroller packing the ground of a washout. Arctic Gateway photo.

 

Culverts drainage for Hudson Bay line.

Two steamrollers pack the ground next to a newly installed culvert used for drainage. Arctic Gateway photo.

 

Arctic Gateway works on Hudson Bay Line in Manitoba.

An ice age remnant boulder uncovered by the Hudson Bay line as work continues. Arctic Gateway photo.

The Arctic Gateway group, new owners of the Port of Churchill and the 100 mile stretch of track known as the Hudson Bay Line, are working diligently to repair all the washouts and problem spots along the line. Weather is cooperating and hopes are high the work can be completed before winter blows in from the north. Hopes for finishing before the polar bear season in October are a longshot at best. So far, so good as these photos from Arctic Gateway portray. What a relief to all the people living along the tracks and especially those residents in Churchill, the northern terminus of the railway.

Hudson Bay Line Repair Going Strong

Arctic Gateway is committing extensive man hours to the cause of bringing the Hudson Bay Line north to Churchill once again! it seems like a distant memory now of the drama of the deadlocked stalemate between Omnitrax, the Canadian Government and any prospective buyers of the port and the Hudson Bay Line. However, we are all moving on and looking toward the bright future of an operational port and railine linking the town of Churchill with the southern regions of the province. These awesome photos from Arctic Gateway show how new technology will help prevent future damage to the rails through washouts. Stay posted for more updates and news from the tundra.

Derailment Shocks New Rail Owner Arctic Gateway

Port of Churchill Churchill, Manitoba

The Port of Churchill has a new owner Arctic Gateway. Port of Churchill photo.

Arctic Gateway Group, the new owners of Churchill’s Port and the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR), have been greeted with a rocky start to their new venture. Saturday evening a freight train with three engines and 27 cars carrying petroleum derailed in the remote town of Ponton, Manitoba when a rail bridge gave out killing one and severely injuring another worker.

One rail worker has passed away and another is in hospital with serious, potentially life threatening injuries. RCMP confirmed that a 38 – year -old worker was deceased and another 59 – year -old was in grave condition after being extricated from the locomotive. Both workers hailed from The Pas, Manitoba, the end point of the HBR.

“Sadly, one of our employees working on the locomotive has been confirmed by authorities as deceased. A second employee has sustained serious injuries and has been airlifted to hospital,” says a statement issued by the Arctic Gateway Group, the company that operates the railway. “The RCMP is in the process of notifying the families.

“The Arctic Gateway Group will be also be making direct contact with family members and all of our employees and communities in the coming days as we all attempt to cope with this tragedy,” the statement continued.

RCMP responded to the derailment around 5:45 p.m. Saturday via helicopter after a pilot of another helicopter spotted the wreckage 145 kilometers southwest of Thompson, Manitoba, the hub of the region.

Sunday, RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre stated that due to the remote location of the crash site, the derailment might have happened “hours” prior to police arriving on scene. According to Manaigre, both of the trapped men were conscious and responsive to officers when they arrived.

One of the men stated that no bridge was seen as they emerged from a turn in the track.

“I can’t imagine — it’s not like a vehicle, you can’t stop right away — once they saw that I imagine they knew what was coming,” Manaigre said, adding investigators are still looking into whether or not the bridge was standing at the time.

“We’re not sure, was it washed out or was it just partially damaged and when the train went over it took the rest of it out? Obviously there’s a few scenarios that have to be examined.

“The focus is going to be on what happened in front of that locomotive prior to the derailment.”

Speed of the train when the accident occurred has yet to be determined by investigators according to Manaigre.

President of AGT Foods, Murad Al-Katib, a partner in Arctic Gateway Group has been on scene.

“It’s very, very early, but we will do our best to give further updates,” he said.

“Our hearts are heavy today, and we are very sorry for our loss and our prayers are with the families.”

With the danger of petroleum leaking out of the derailed train cars, HAZMAT crews have been on location to mitigate any spills. However, at this point the Arctic Gateway Group said they don’t believe any leakage from rail cars has occurred.

“The Arctic Gateway Group is monitoring this situation very closely, and we have been advised that at this time there does not appear to be any significant environmental danger to nearby areas resulting from the derailment,” says the statement from the company.

An investigation by Transport Canada is ongoing with assistance from RCMP.

Transport Canada said two inspectors are at the derailment site and have confirmed none of the cars are leaking In a statement released late Sunday.

Churchill Weekly Photos – Rail Repairs

Sixteen months following washouts that disabled the Hudson Bay Railroad tracks between Churchill and Gillam, crews are working seven days a week to repair over 20 hazard locations that were affected by the water. New owners, Arctic Gateway, has high hopes that work can be completed before the polar bear season when winter has the region in its grips. So far the work is progressing at an impressive pace with crews reaching the 410-mile marker. We will keep you posted as the progress continues over the next month! Enjoy these images from Arctic Gateway!

 

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