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.
Both the 2017 and 2018 Hudson Bay quests were cancelled due to track washouts.
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 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.
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!
Aerial view of a washout along the Hudson Bay Rail line. Arctic Gateway photo.
Heavy equipment lifting damaged track from the line in Manitoba. Arctic Gateway photo.
Laying the foundation for one of the many washouts along the Hudson Bay Line in Manitoba. Arctic Gateway photo.
Steamroller packing the ground of a washout. Arctic Gateway photo.
Two steamrollers pack the ground next to a newly installed culvert used for drainage. Arctic Gateway photo.
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.
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 rail-line 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.
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.
“However, we want to reassure the people of Churchill and the surrounding northern communities that we have already made the financial commitments and logistical arrangements necessary to ensure propane resupply for the winter.”