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 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.
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!
Train service to Churchill has been suspended for over a year. Claude Daudet photo.
If money becomes available, Hudson Bay Railway could begin repairing the damaged tracks between Churchill and Gillam as early as September according to HBR President Sergio Sabatini. He confirmed with the Canadian Transportation Agency on August first that HBR has begun soliciting contracting bids to repair the washed out tracks but the money is not there to cover the costs of the work.
A report to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), ordering HBR to start repairs by July 3 this year stated the process began with track inspection June 11 and June 12 by independent auditor AECOM. HBR prepared request proposals (RFP) and submitted them on June 28 to six pre-screened eligible contractors. Four of the six contractors attended a mandatory site visit on July 12 – 13. AECOM responded to technical questions form the contractors through July and bids were submitted and by August 3rd. AECOM stated it was “confident there will be multiple bids and methodologies to consider.”
Hudson Bay Railroad states that a substantial amount of repairs can be finished this year and then concluded by mid-2019. The goal is to restore limited service during this winter and then have full service soon after that when repairs conclude. Again, the report painstakingly reiterated facts that money was currently not available to initiate a definite repair plan.
“As the agency is aware HBR does not have the financial capability to undertake the full repairs of the damage to the railway caused by the spring 2017 flood,” Sabatini wrote. “HBR and its shareholders have been in discussion with the federal government and a potential buyer with the objective of ensuring that the necessary funds are in place to fully repair the Gillam to Churchill line and resume operations as expeditiously as possible.”
Arnaud Maldague made this epic bicycle journey along the tracks of the Hudson Bay Line from Churchill to Gillam to bring awareness to the plight of Churchill, Nunavut and communities affected by the loss of rail service. For over a year the tracks have been unusable and no train is able to reach the northern terminus of Churchill. With a new deal for a local group and financial investor to buy the port in place, hopes are high that the isolation will end soon. Below is Arnaud’s account of the situation:
“After skiing the Arctic for 100 days, I arrived in Churchill, Canada, only to discover the city had no more functioning railroad. The rails were flooded on 23 may 2017 after a huge winter storm hit the region earlier this winter. The damaged rails suffered some washouts, which cut the city only ground supply and communication mean. Private owner Omnitrax, whom is legally bind to maintain the tracks, refused to repair the line, pretexting exaggerated costs and financial failure. The government refused to funnel money to the company, resulting in a political drama and no repairs. Churchill’s citizen are stuck with high prices, jobs cuts and a bitter feeling of being abandoned. The situation also impacted the whole Kivalliq region, Nunavut, which relied on Churchill rail supply line. One year later, nothing had changed… Since the rails were part of my itinerary and “The Manneken Trip” expedition, I decided to shoot this video while cycling the rails down towards Gillam and later Winnipeg. The idea was to generate some awareness and report on the state of the rails. As expected, the damages aren’t that bad, and could easily be repaired. It was a horrible ride with its lot of nice surprises! Nature was super beautiful however : the taiga, the boreal forest and lots of birds. Three days after finishing the trip, 41 communities joined together with private company Fairfax and AGT in order to buy the Hudson Bay Railroad and port. It’s an historic move from these community which retransfer ownership into local hands! However, no date has been set for the repairs yet… Due to intensive and long winters, repairs can only take place during the few summer months. If repairs don’t start soon, Churchill might have to face another winter without train.”