Trains with supplies will finally be coming back to Churchill. Rhonda Reid photo.
The new owners of the Hudson Bay Rail line are set to initiate immediate track repairs according to the Canadian government on Friday. The announcement came following a deal in place for purchase of port and railway by a consortium of buyers. The agreement will open up travel and shipping to the remote northern outpost of Churchill, Manitoba, isolated from the rest of the province since May 2017.
Churchill residents have dwindled in numbers from roughly 1,000 people to 700 – 800 since the washout and subsequent nearly $60 million in damage to the rail line linking Churchill to the south. The trail closure has escalated costs for crucial supplies such as food and fuel, which currently is being shipped in on barges or through air transport.
Arctic Gateway Group Limited Partnership, a private-public partnership that includes Missinippi Rail Limited Partnership, Fairfax Financial Holdings and AGT Limited Partnership have purchased the Port and the Hudson Bay rail line from previous owner Omnitrax Inc from Denver, Colorado.
“We’ll have control in the future, and we’ll work toward prosperity,” said Churchill mayor Mike Spence. “This is historic, I don’t think there’s another model out there in Canada that would fit into this equation.
“This is what we hoped and wished for — we are finally there.”
Jim Carr International Trade Diversification Minister thanked area residents for their patience.
“I want Canadians living in northern Manitoba and Nunavut to know that the Government of Canada understands the importance of the line to their daily lives,” he said in a release on Friday.
The deal was delayed numerous times while Omnitrax claimed it wasn’t able to afford to fix the tracks. After hiring an assessment firm, Omnitrax estimated between $40 million and $60 million in repairs to restore light passenger-rail service and take about two months.
“We are racing against time,” said Fairfax Financial president Paul Rivett in a release. The goal for the new owners is to have the rail line operating prior to winter setting in.
“Phase 1 of the project will be to repair the rail line, undertake safety and rehabilitation upgrades to the port and the railway assets. We will commence the repairs and do all we can to restore service expeditiously and safely.”
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister commended the deal and stated that plans are in place just in case the line cannot be fixed prior to the severe winter sets in.
“We are hopeful the repair of the rail line can occur as soon as possible so that service can be resumed before freeze-up,” he said.
Old wooden boat and bottles in Churchill. Alex De Vries – Magnifico photo.
Churchill these days feels like this photo in many ways. We hope the Hudson Bay Line gets repaired this fall and the town can be restored to it’s former bustling self. Sending good vibes towards the polar bear capital of the world!
A beluga whale in the murky Churchill River. Reinhard Mink photo.
Polar bear scouring the tundra. Reinhard Mink photo.
Aerial of view of Halfway Point and the Hudson Bay. Reinhard Mink photo.
Pod of male beluga whales in the Hudson Bay. Reinhard Mink photo.
View of Churchill with Fort Prince of Wales in the foreground. Reinhard Mink photo.
Beluga seemingly hovering in the Churchill River. Reinhard Mink photo.
Summer is winding down in the north and the action has been relentless with the usual incredible Churchill summer highlights. The polar bears have been wandering the rocky Precambrian coast of the Hudson Bay and Churchill River and belugas have posed for shots like these above for the entire summer. We can’t get enough of the awesome scenic vistas near the coast and inland along rocky tundra. Another summer in the north with the wildlife one only dreams of! These images from Reinhard Mink are just a sample of the wildlife wonders of Churchill!
Check out this 10-year-old video of what the train from The Pas to Churchill used to look like. It seems like it’s been that long since the train last ran even though it has been only over a year at this point. The suffering in Churchill has been tremendous and loss of employment and relocation has dampened spirits in the frontier outpost on the Hudson Bay. Hopes are high an agreement can be made soon to rebuild the damaged track along the Hudson Bay Line and get the lifeline restored.
A sleepy polar bear waking up from an afternoon nap Alex De Vries-Magnifico photo.
It’s hard to believe that polar bear season in Churchill is only two months away! This magnificent sleepy polar bear image is another gem from Churchill photographer and guide Alex De Vries – Magnifico. This polar bear season will be another filled with imagination and countless surprises in and around the coastal village of Churchill on the Hudson Bay. So, it’s time to almost wake up and venture north to see these beautiful animals in a breathtaking Arctic landscape!