People arrive at the train track blockade in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ontario, on Tuesday Feb. 11, 2020, in support of Wet’suwet’en’s blockade of a natural gas pipeline in northern B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

Freight and passenger railways under stress as pipeline blockades continue

More than 150 freight trains have been idled since the blockades were set up in B.C. and Ontario

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Wednesday on the protests over a B.C. pipeline project that have disrupted rail traffic across the country.

The comments in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, where Trudeau is wrapping up a visit to Africa, followed the cancellation of passenger rail service on key routes even as protesters prepared for police to move in on their camps.

Protesters have erected blockades across several rail lines in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northwestern B.C.

The blockades followed the RCMP enforcing a court injunction last week against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who have been blocking construction of the pipeline, a key part of the $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied-natural-gas export project.

Meanwhile, Mohawk community members at a railway blockade south of Montreal say they’ll remain there as long as the RCMP is present on Wet’suwet’en territory.

About a dozen people were at the blockade in Kahnawake that has been blocking commuter train service along a line from Candiac, Que., since Monday.

The protest, which features Mohawk flags, signs of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en and a pile of snow built up on the tracks, has forced passengers on the line to use shuttle buses instead.

The economic impact of the demonstrations has already crystallized: Canadian National Railway Co. warned Tuesday that it would have to close “significant” parts of its network unless blockades on its rail lines were removed.

VIDEO: B.C. legislature pipeline protest camp disrupts throne speech ceremonies

More than 150 freight trains have been idled since the blockades were set up last Thursday in B.C. and Ontario.

Passenger rail services have also been affected in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., with Via Rail cancelling service on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes until at least the end of the day this Thursday because of a blockade near Belleville, Ont.

Chief executive JJ Ruest said the CN network gives the company limited parking space for its trains, which means traffic is backed up from Halifax to Windsor, Ont., and in parts of B.C. approaching Prince Rupert.

Via Rail said 157 passenger trains have been cancelled, affecting 24,500 travellers.

In addition to the service cancellations in Ontario, Via says a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C., also means normal rail service is being interrupted between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink blockades a ‘dress rehearsal’ for future project fights, says Kenney

READ MORE: CN Rail to shut tracks to Prince Rupert port if pipeline blockade continues

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Electrical issue causes heavy smoke to billow from Oak Bay Avenue coffee shop

Victoria and Oak Bay fire crews responded to smoke at Victoria café

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

Ladysmith man arrested in Saanich after towed sawmill draws attention

Police located the man thanks to social media and a keen-eyed witness

Vacuum sparks fire in Fernwood basement

Crews extinguish small fire in Empress Avenue home

Victoria Humane Society takes revenue hit after donation bins vandalized

Organization removes clothing donation bins after contents removed, scattered

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

Federal child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Parksville pedestrian airlifted to hospital in Vancouver after nighttime collision

Police report man’s injuries were ‘significant’ but not life-threatening

Shoplifting suspect allegedly spits on worker at store in Nanaimo

Suspect became aggressive when confronted by loss prevention officer at Walmart, say RCMP

Reincarnation, baby! Music-making B.C. couple celebrate ‘miracle’ pregnancy

‘I (said) to Adam, ‘I really think this is your brother reincarnated,’ Elise Estrada says

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Most Read