Hudson Bay Railway

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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:01 pm

OK, great press release.

Now let's see some ties a dropin' and rails a layin'. There's at best 2 1/2 months to get something done.

While of course the Canadian Government is negotiating hard to be included in NAFTA II, they must start looking for agricultural markets away from the US and Mexico. The established Eastern ports such as Halifax could be overwhelmed, and Churchill could again become viable. Rebuilding the railroad will cost far less than building a parallel highway - and no informed party is about to discount the economy and efficiency of rail to handle agricultural products.

Even if a trilateral agreement is reached, it is nice for the parties in interest to have additional maritime capacity to move produce to Europe and Asia if "things go South". After all, who says Russia will "play nice" in the world order of agricultural trade.

Again, I think it is safe assumption passenger service will be quickly restored once the repairs are complete.
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Postby Mark0f0 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:17 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:OK, great press release.
While of course the Canadian Government is negotiating hard to be included in NAFTA II, they must start looking for agricultural markets away from the US and Mexico. The established Eastern ports such as Halifax could be overwhelmed, and Churchill could again become viable. Rebuilding the railroad will cost far less than building a parallel highway - and no informed party is about to discount the economy and efficiency of rail to handle agricultural products.


A theoretical "killing" of NAFTA might reduce US-bound business through the Port of Prince Rupert, freeing up capacity (and more capacity can be certainly be built!). Nice heavy mainline rail. Full speed running, easier territory than even to Vancouver on CN or CP. And perhaps just as importantly, with all the gold in northwestern BC, there may very well be a national interest in Canada maintaining its sovereignty there.

Again, I think it is safe assumption passenger service will be quickly restored once the repairs are complete.


If you've been following Amtrak lately, they're going to cancel operations on all non-PTC territory by the end of the year. Or so they've claimed. Perhaps VIA would be similarly emboldened to do the same, with respect to dark territory and relatively poor track. The government has a constituency in the Sagueunay, but realistically how important is Churchill really to anyone?
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby mdvle » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:23 am

It will be interesting to watch, particularly given that one of the new owners of the line is Fairfax Financial, who obviously will expect to make money on this investment.

Regarding VIA, my uneducated guess would be service won't be restored until next summer. Given the short window to get repairs done before winter sets in I suspect that only enough will get done to open the line for freight and may not be up to a standard for passenger uses (it all depends of course on what exactly is damaged and needs to be repaired).

VIA will return because (if I recall correctly) a look at their recent financials seemed to indicated the savings of not running to Churchill were negligible given that they still run service as far as practical on the line. So the only real to me things delaying a service restart are:

- is the line up to passenger standards
- if so before this winter, is VIA confidant the repairs will hold up all winter to prevent the equipment getting stranded again mid-winter - note that I am not talking about anything that may happen next spring, but rather VIA doesn't want to risk say some equipment getting stranded in January and being exposed to the salt air until late spring/early summer.

As for the future of the line, it all depends on whether the government is willing to resume subsidies to ship out of Churchill. The problem is that the Churchill shipping season doesn't mesh well with grain growing season and while global warming will slowly lengthen that season it will also likely increase the costs/risk of the line.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby dowlingm » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:46 am

The Feds are keeping quiet about how much money is changing hands - presumably to the First Nations consortium to soften the political impact of putting it directly into Fairfax’ pocket. I do feel that Manitoba should be putting some up too.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby Dayliner381 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:09 pm

Regarding the comments by Gilbert B Norman and MarkoF0 I don't think either the repair of the Churchill line or the future of the Port of Prince Rupert has much to do with the future of NAFTA, certainly not directly. Both facilities relate to non-NAFTA trade, in the case of Prince Rupert primarily inbound shipments from Asia. The future of this traffic will depend more on the resolution of US differences with China.

That said, there is definitely local interest in re-opening the Port of Churchill. The link below to a CBC story today provides some sense of the short-term economics The bottom line is that Churchill's potential, such that it is, will be in the more distant future, and in the context of increased Arctic navigation.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba ... -1.4808227

As far as the prospects for restored passenger service are concerned, VIA has been quite clear that it will return to Churchill when the line reopens. The priority for repairs is to restore passenger and light freight service. Bear in mind that in the muskeg conditions the fall and winter is the construction season.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby dowlingm » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:12 pm

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba ... -1.4810424
"Company fixing Churchill rail line says repairs will be complete in 60 days"

He says his company will use Tough Cell technology for the repairs — a geocell technology invented in the 1970s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen unpaved roads in order to hold heavy military vehicles.

"This is state-of-the-art technology that really has never been tried before in Canada. It's been utilized in the world, but not in Canada," said Breault.
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Postby dowlingm » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:07 pm

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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:57 pm

Complete and ready in 60 days? Very fast paced schedule, the closest such deadline I recall was MNCR's Port Jervis Line after Tropical Storm Irene, damaged in late August 2011, ready for service by Thanksgiving (under three months).
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
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Re: Hudson Bay Railway Churchill (OmniTRAX / iChurchill)

Postby Ken V » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:52 pm

The new owner, Arctic Gateway Group, has a Facebook page with several photos and other information on the railway reconstruction.
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Re: Hudson Bay Line to Churchill/VIA Service Suspensions

Postby dowlingm » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:15 pm

And the other shoe drops. Canada provides $74 million in repair subsidy, $43m* in operations subsidy over 10 years
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... um=twitter

* not inclusive of either VIA subsidy or how much that ops number is gonna go up when they think nobody's looking

and no sign of Manitoba putting any cash in? But that's what happens when your country doesn't have something like PRIIA.
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Postby mdvle » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:36 am

Serious accident with one crew member in critical condition and one still trapped as of story publishing not a good start for new ownership https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/train-derailment-thompson-manitoba-1.4825707
Update: One of the crew didn't make it
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