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Rail News: Canadian National Railway - CN

Protest blockades prompt CN, VIA Rail to shut down rail service

The blockades are disrupting passenger-rail travel as well as Canadians' ability to move goods and enable trade, CN officials said.
Photo – cn.ca


CN announced yesterday it will shut down significant parts of its Canadian rail network imminently unless protest blockades on its lines are removed.

The blockades are disrupting passenger-rail travel as well as Canadians' ability to move goods and enable trade, CN officials said in a press release.

Protesters have set up the blockades across the country in a show of solidarity for the Wet'suwet'en Nation, whose hereditary chiefs oppose the construction of a natural gas pipeline through northern British Columbia.

The blockades affecting CN are near Belleville — on the Class I's only eastern link between Western Canada and Eastern Canada and between Eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest — and on the freight railroad's northern mainline in British Columbia between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

Meanwhile, VIA Rail Canada Inc. advised yesterday that the blockade near Belleville has prompted the railroad to cancel all departures until the end of day tomorrow on the Montreal-Toronto and Toronto-Ottawa routes in both directions.

"It’s not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it’s all Canadian supply-chains,” said CN President and Chief Executive Officer JJ Ruest. "We are currently parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end."

Movement of intermodal containers — carrying food and consumer items, Canadian grain, de-icing fluid, construction materials, propane and other commodities — are already affected and will be further diminished, Ruest said.

"Factories and mines will be soon faced with very difficult decisions. The Port of Prince Rupert is effectively already shutdown. The ports of Montreal and Halifax are also already feeling the impact of these blockades which will have a trickle-down effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks,” added Ruest.  

The Class I has obtained court injunctions for both blockade locations and are working with local law enforcement to enforce the orders, Ruest said.

"We have also engaged with customers, industry associations as well as officials in Ottawa and across Canada to explain to them the consequences and material impact that shutting down the railroad will have on their constituents,” he said.