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!
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!
Arctic Gateway, new owners of the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Railway, are continuing their incredible perseverance to complete repairs before the winter settles in. These images provided by Arctic Gateway give us a current look into what they have been up to this past week. There will be more progress reports and photos as we get access to them and by later next week we should have a good indication of how the rest of the work will go. Let’s continue to hope for good weather so the crews can get the job done and the Via Rail train can run all the way to Churchill again!
Churchill is pretty quiet at the moment bear wise. A few polar bears are being spotted daily in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Small thermokarst ponds have yet to freeze over though once they do polar bears will be moving and heading towards Churchill proper and surrounding area. The polar bear season is just 10 days away and the action will be heating up as the temperatures cool down in Churchill. Stay posted for all the news from the north!