The 2019 Hudson Bay Quest dogsled race will be reinstated next March riding, literally albeit hopefully, of the Hudson Bay Railroad. The vital lifeline that links Churchill and Gillam needs to be up and running in order to pull off the logistical operations for the race. Crucial supplies, officials as well as dog teams and emergency workers shuttle between the two towns and drops at checkpoints occur as well.
Registration, which opens November 01 at 12:00:01 (noon) CST, will be capped at 12 racers this year. The rail line between Gillam and Churchill is essential for moving race officials, supplies and dropped dogs/scratched teams. The rail is anticipated to be operational in time for our March 15, 2019 start date in Gillam, MB.
To register or for HBQ information, the official website will be updated soon at www.hbqrace.com.
Dave Daley leaving the start in Churchill. Nace Hageman photo.
Justin Allen from Churchill tears out of the gate in the Hudson Bay Quest. Drew Hamilton photo.
Dave Daley’s dogs raring to go at the Hudson Bay Quest start line. Ales De Vries – Magnifico photo.
Ryan Anderson wins the 2016 Hudson Bay Quest. HBQ photo.
Polar bear stats reflect a slight rise in numbers though most polar bears have not moved much since the last report. There have been individual animals recently hazed and darted in the town of Churchill and Polar Bear Alert will be ramping up surveillance as the polar bear season progresses. We are excited to share all the highlights and images from Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world.
Manitoba Conservation officer sedates a polar bear with a dart. Rhonda Reid photo.
Polar bear looking for cover among the rocky coastal area in Churchill. Rhonda Reid photo.
On the trail of a rogue polar bear in Churchill. Rhonda Reid photo.
Darted polar bear still putting up a fight. Rhonda Reid photo.
A polar bear nearing the town limits was darted and sedated from a helicopter by Manitoba Conservation officers today. The bear would not be taken easily, however. The chase took over an hour and two sedation darts were needed to bring this polar bear into custody. This bear charged a Conservation vehicle and then was finally brought under control and transported to the Polar Bear Holding Facility. The bear has since been released.
The first hi-rail vehicles arrived in Churchill at approximately 1:30 pm on Tuesday this week after leaving Gillam around 5 am. Mayor Mike Spence narrates this clip from the Churchill depot. These vehicles, set up for both rail and highway travel, were conducting preliminary inspections of the newly repaired track prior to the next stage of safety inspections. Rail cars will be deployed for the next test run to make sure tracks can handle the weight and all sections are cleared for train travel. Progress with repairs to the washouts has been swift and technically sound with new innovations being deployed to avoid future blowouts in the rail beds. Can’t wait to post a video of the first train arriving in Churchill, Manitoba!
First layer goes down on a washout on the Hudson Bay Line. Arctic Gateway photo.
Special honey comb soil stabilizer is laid down and packed in a washout. Arctic Gateway photo.
Covering the soil compartment stabilizer in a washout area. Arctic Gateway photo.
Rolling the top layer of a washout repair on the Hudson Bay Line. Arctic Gateway photo.
Preparing to restore track to the Hudson Bay Line. Arctic Gateway photo.
Work is continuing and there is a light at the proverbial tunnel. With nearly all washouts repaired, the next step will be to transport equipment north to Churchill.….slowly. With a recent derailment that caused the death of a rail worker, the process will be long and pragmatic to insure there will be no other accidents on the Hudson Bay Line. Churchill will feel liberated once the trains begin to come and go again though everyone wants to be sure that all problems are worked out before regular service begins again. Sending our best wishes for workers toiling to reinstate tain service all along the northern corridor up to the polar bear capital of the world!
Arctic Gateway, new owners of the Hudson Bay Rail line railway to Churchill issues warning that recent snowfall and last month’s fatal derailment just might delay restoration of northern rail service until the spring. The consortium took ownership of the Railway and Port of Churchill on August 31.
Despite regular postings on social media of intense progress on track repairs, Arctic Gateway spokesman Murad Al-Katib stated that crews are working tirelessly on the tracks despite the snow, “but it remains possible that this work cannot be completed prior to the onset of winter.”
Despite the fact that workers would soon complete fixing all the washouts that occurred along the line during flooding in May 2017, the strength of the line still needs testing by transporting equipment north to Churchill.
“Even if the washout repairs occur prior to winter, it is still possible that rail service will not be restored until the spring,” wrote the chief executive officer of Saskatchewan grain giant AGT Foods.
He noted rail companies and governments have offered to help, “but it may take time to get the right equipment up to the repaired section of the line.”
However due to the recent deadly derailment that occurred on Sept. 15, near Ponton, south of Thompson, Al-Katib has indicated that might severely delay transporting equipment near Churchill. The derailment track section remains closed while inspections of the incident continue.
A washout, most likely resulting from beaver dams clogging culverts caused the derailment according to the Transportation Safety Board. In the derailment a 38-year-old worker was killed. Arctic Gateway has since revamped the beaver – control program which was dropped in 1997 by previous owner Omnitrax from the USA.
All in all, Arctic Gateway seems to be moving in a very positive direction with the rail – line. We are all excited to see the first train roll into Churchill in the near future!