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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals
Groups reach agreement with OmniTRAX for Hudson Bay Rail, Port of Churchill
Missinippi Rail Partners and Fairfax Financial Holdings have obtained a tentative agreement with OmniTRAX Inc. to transfer ownership of the Port of Churchill and restore rail service to northern Manitoba, the Canadian government announced yesterday.
Two organizations representing northern communities and First Nations — OneNorth and Missinippi Rail Ltd. Partnership — worked with Fairfax to secure the agreement. Fairfax announced in November 2017 that it would partner with OneNorth and Missinippi Rail in an attempt to buy OmniTRAX's Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill in northern Manitoba.
The agreement in principle includes the participation of 30 First Nations, 11 non-First Nations communities in northern Manitoba and seven Kivalliq communities in western Nunavut, along with Fairfax and AGT, government officials said in a press release.
In May 2017, rail service on OmniTRAX's Hudson Bay Rail Line was closed due to severe flooding and washout conditions. OmniTRAX has declined to make the repairs related to the flooding, claiming they were "not economically feasible" and that the Canadian government should cover the cost.
In September 2017, the federal government appointed a chief negotiator to find a solution to restoring the rail service.
Under the new agreement, OneNorth and Missinippi Rail — operating as Missinippi Rail Partners — will operate the rail line.
"The people of northern Manitoba have long understood the value of the rail line. This agreement in principle allows those most affected to have a direct stake in the future and long-term interests of their communities," said Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr.
Earlier this month, a group of Manitoba First Nations and iChurchill announced they had reached an agreement to buy the rail line, port and associated assets. But last week, iChurchill announced it was stepping away from the plan.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.