VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby Mark0f0 » Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:19 am

So Trudeau thinks he can just snap his fingers and force a private company to conjure up $$$ to repair a line whose only customers are VIA Rail, and town supplies:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ ... -1.4227610

Meanwhile VIA stands to save millions by not operating the train in operating expenses.

Anyone have an idea of just what leverage the government has, without passing legislation to do the repairs and essentially nationalize the line? Does this bring up any ugliness for residents of, for instance, the Gaspe Peninsula, or Vancouver Island, who have lost VIA service due to railway maintenance neglect?
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby mdvle » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:51 pm

It will all depend on what Omnitrax agreed to in the legal contracts that would have been done as part of the money given by the various levels of government to subsidize/improve both the railway and the port over the last x years.

Presumably a condition of receiving the money would have been a commitment to operate for y number of years, and if true and if we are still inside that y number of years then Omnitrax would be responsible for re-opening the railway.

It all depends on what was legally signed.
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby marquisofmississauga » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:15 am

Mark0f0 wrote:So Trudeau thinks he can just snap his fingers and force a private company to conjure up $$$ to repair a line whose only customers are VIA Rail, and town supplies:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ ... -1.4227610

Meanwhile VIA stands to save millions by not operating the train in operating expenses.

Anyone have an idea of just what leverage the government has, without passing legislation to do the repairs and essentially nationalize the line? Does this bring up any ugliness for residents of, for instance, the Gaspe Peninsula, or Vancouver Island, who have lost VIA service due to railway maintenance neglect?


On another site, David Jeanes quotes section 47 of the Canada Transportation Act:

>
> 47 (1) Where the Governor in Council is of the opinion that
>
> (a) an extraordinary disruption to the effective continued operation of the national transportation system exists or is imminent, other than a labour disruption,
>
> (b) failure to act under this section would be contrary to the interests of users and operators of the national transportation system, and
>
> (c) there are no other provisions in this Act or in any other Act of Parliament that are sufficient and appropriate to remedy the situation and counter the actual or anticipated damage caused by the disruption,
>
> the Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister and the minister responsible for the Bureau of Competition Policy, by order, take any steps, or direct the Agency to take any steps, that the Governor in Council considers essential to stabilize the national transportation system, including the imposition of capacity and pricing restraints.
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby mdvle » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:12 pm

Mark0f0 wrote:Anyone have an idea of just what leverage the government has, without passing legislation to do the repairs and essentially nationalize the line? Does this bring up any ugliness for residents of, for instance, the Gaspe Peninsula, or Vancouver Island, who have lost VIA service due to railway maintenance neglect?


And we have an answer.

In exchange for $40 million from Ottawa and Manitoba Omintrax agreed to maintain and operate the line until at least October 2018:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/omnitrax-contract-ottawa-1.4230972
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:07 pm

And now it's up to OmniTRAX whether it's cheaper to repair the line, to repay C$40M in part or in full, or to find a patsy. Hopefully the company has good borrowing rates, good construction weather, much lighter damage to the line than forecast, and customers & government willing to toss more money in.

I hope Keewatin bids and receives the contract for the entire cluster north of The Pas, and that they can operate it successfully. Besides my personal preference for locally-managed businesses (and for native-owned ones in particular), as a First Nations business they have access to grants that OmniTRAX can't get.
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:46 pm

The New York Times has an article appearing today reporting on the hardships that the loss of rail service - freight and passenger - has brought to Churchill. The article reports there is some speculation that the private sector operator, Omnitrax, may not rebuild the line (this "threat" likely is a ploy to get public funds on the table.

Meantime, a set of VIA equipment remains captive:

http://nytimes.com/2017/08/30/world/can ... rctic.html

Fair Use:

CHURCHILL, Manitoba — The last train to Churchill sits beside the town’s antique station, settling into place week after week.

It arrived on May 23, the morning when floods washed out the track connecting this frontier town in northern Manitoba on the edge of Hudson Bay — and it hasn’t moved since.

Once a symbol of expansion and hope, the passenger train has become a painful emblem of lost jobs, empty hotel rooms and mounting hunger for the town’s residents, and a bellwether of climate change for scientists
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby dougster66 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:20 pm

...and now this. A candidate for the newly merged "United Conservative Party" of Alberta is proposing that the province buys the port, upgrades the rail line and builds a pipeline alongside it.

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politic ... -churchill
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby marquisofmississauga » Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:00 pm

This is the latest news.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ ... -1.4281563

The federal government has appointed a former top bureaucrat as an negotiator to help solve the Churchill rail issue and says it will help in finding a new owner for the line if the U.S.-based owner won't meet its contractual obligations.

Ottawa is dispatching the former Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters to work out differences between two competing groups interested in buying the rail line and the port from Denver-based Omnitrax and get a deal as soon as possible so the line to the northern Manitoba town can be fixed.
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby CLamb » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:15 am

What was freight service like on the line before suspension? Without the port operating I can't imagine much traffic.
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:56 am

Mr. Lamb, The Times addressed that very.point:

The New York Times wrote:In 1997, when the federal government brokered a sale of the port and most of the railway to OmniTRAX, a private company based in Denver, the company predicted that climate change would increase the port’s business as more ships used Arctic routes.

That didn’t happen.

In 2016, the company laid off most port employees at the start of the 14-week summer shipping season, after the government disbanded the national wheat monopoly and grain companies sent their product to other ports. The company had been in serious talks to sell the rail line when the flooding occurred
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby jp1822 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 6:09 pm

Didn't realize it's been nearly 20 years since Omnitrax bought the line. Didn't think they had it for that long! Some, including Omnitrax, had thought the port at Churchill was going to have a breath of new life put into it. But that never transpired.

Unfortunately this was a route I always wanted to take a trip on but due to VIA's re-scheduling and frequency changes by 2010 I never took the trip, and likely never will now. The Park Car addition/expansion was a nice feature that VIA added. The train did bring a fair amount of tourists in during whale and polar bear season. Not sure if this was true or not, but someone said VIA was limited as to how many people they could bring up to Churchill due to a small number of hotels and other facilities.

I did come close to booking when the "Northern Spirit Sleeper Cars" (ex-Amtrak 10-6 Heritage Sleepers) were being used. But then I read that these cars were freezing up and bad-ordered en-route. Chateau sleepers were eventually assigned to the Hudson Bay train. I remember last seeing the Northern Spirit Cars at Toronto, after sitting in the Winnipeg yard for years. Not sure of there current disposition.

Can't imagine this route being operated by anyone without public/government support as freight traffic is very light, repair work and track maintenance expensive, and the major traffic centered on supporting Churchill's population and tourism (seasonal at best). Omnitrax was trying to sell to First Nations, and I think some sort of government subsidy would have played a role. Something though is bound to happen as airlifting supplies and people in/out can't be sustainable.

Will be interesting to see how they get the VIA train set out......
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:20 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:
The New York Times wrote:the company predicted that climate change would increase the port’s business as more ships used Arctic routes.

That didn’t happen.

Has Ontario Northland seen a traffic uptick with the availability of Arctic routes?
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:15 am

Mr. Stephens, read all about the Port of Moosonee:

http://ports.com/canada/port-of-moosonee/
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby electricron » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:16 am

I’ll admit I don’t know the terrain that well up there, but wouldn’t it be better for the development of the city and area to have a regular highway built instead of having only a railroad? With a highway, you’ll probably see a decrease in shipping rates due to competitive pressures than you will from a sole railroad. Shipping of goods by air is just too expensive, and shipping by sea, which is the cheapest by far, is seasonal.
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Re: VIA Train to Churchill Suspended Indefinitely

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:21 am

Mr. Stephens and Ron, the Port of Moosonee is simply not a player. Here is their "fleet":

http://mtlmoose.ca/our-vessels/

Yes, it is on James Bay, but it appears to be "upstream", and as such, it's draft is likely limited. With its limited transportation (no highway as Ron notes) I doubt if any.initiative for public funding could move forth.
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