The Hudson Bay Quest has wrapped up an amazing return to glory as all racers finished up late yesterday arriving safely in the polar bear capital of Churchill. We will have the official results as soon as they are posted. We will also post images from the race like these as we get them in as well. We are all so happy for these northern towns and Churchill especially to be able to retake their culture through the repairs to the Hudson Bay Railway and train service being reinstated to the region. Enjoy!
Hudson Bay Quest 2014. Brad Josephs photo.
Hey dog mushing fans..the Hudson Bay Quest is back this March with a vengeance following the repair and reinstitution of the Hudson Bay Railway. Churchill cannot wait for the first full-fledged passenger train to arrive by the end of November. The train will allow mushers and their supplies and dog teams to have support along the trail. We are all so excited to cover this amazing event that has thrilled the northern region for years before the washout of the Hudson Bay Line!
Registered racers for the 2019 HBQ are:
David Daley, Churchill, MB
Tom Terry, Sioux Lookout, ON
Blake Freking, Finland, MN, USA
Jennifer Freking, Finland, USA
Peter McClelland, Ely, MN, USA
Shawn McCarty, Ely, MN, USA
Martin Massicotte, QC
Denis Tremblay, QC
Morgane Halbout, QC (tentatively registered)
Ed Obrecht, ON
Jesse Terry, Sioux Lookout, ON
Kevin Malikowski, MN, USA
We are capped at 12 racers this year, so the roster is now full. All additional racers will be placed on a wait list and will be offered a spot if it becomes available. Also, great news for Churchill... the first train in 17 months rolled in on Oct. 31. It’s a huge relief for the community and will help to make the 2019 HBQ possible!
Race Director – Dave Daley
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!
The Port of Churchill has a new owner Arctic Gateway. Port of Churchill photo.
Arctic Gateway Group, the new owners of Churchill’s Port and the Hudson Bay Railway (HBR), have been greeted with a rocky start to their new venture. Saturday evening a freight train with three engines and 27 cars carrying petroleum derailed in the remote town of Ponton, Manitoba when a rail bridge gave out killing one and severely injuring another worker.
One rail worker has passed away and another is in hospital with serious, potentially life threatening injuries. RCMP confirmed that a 38 – year -old worker was deceased and another 59 – year -old was in grave condition after being extricated from the locomotive. Both workers hailed from The Pas, Manitoba, the end point of the HBR.
“Sadly, one of our employees working on the locomotive has been confirmed by authorities as deceased. A second employee has sustained serious injuries and has been airlifted to hospital,” says a statement issued by the Arctic Gateway Group, the company that operates the railway. “The RCMP is in the process of notifying the families.
“The Arctic Gateway Group will be also be making direct contact with family members and all of our employees and communities in the coming days as we all attempt to cope with this tragedy,” the statement continued.
RCMP responded to the derailment around 5:45 p.m. Saturday via helicopter after a pilot of another helicopter spotted the wreckage 145 kilometers southwest of Thompson, Manitoba, the hub of the region.
Sunday, RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre stated that due to the remote location of the crash site, the derailment might have happened “hours” prior to police arriving on scene. According to Manaigre, both of the trapped men were conscious and responsive to officers when they arrived.
One of the men stated that no bridge was seen as they emerged from a turn in the track.
“I can’t imagine — it’s not like a vehicle, you can’t stop right away — once they saw that I imagine they knew what was coming,” Manaigre said, adding investigators are still looking into whether or not the bridge was standing at the time.
“We’re not sure, was it washed out or was it just partially damaged and when the train went over it took the rest of it out? Obviously there’s a few scenarios that have to be examined.
“The focus is going to be on what happened in front of that locomotive prior to the derailment.”
Speed of the train when the accident occurred has yet to be determined by investigators according to Manaigre.
President of AGT Foods, Murad Al-Katib, a partner in Arctic Gateway Group has been on scene.
“It’s very, very early, but we will do our best to give further updates,” he said.
“Our hearts are heavy today, and we are very sorry for our loss and our prayers are with the families.”
With the danger of petroleum leaking out of the derailed train cars, HAZMAT crews have been on location to mitigate any spills. However, at this point the Arctic Gateway Group said they don’t believe any leakage from rail cars has occurred.
“The Arctic Gateway Group is monitoring this situation very closely, and we have been advised that at this time there does not appear to be any significant environmental danger to nearby areas resulting from the derailment,” says the statement from the company.
An investigation by Transport Canada is ongoing with assistance from RCMP.
Transport Canada said two inspectors are at the derailment site and have confirmed none of the cars are leaking In a statement released late Sunday.
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.”