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

Dragon boaters being sought for a new team in Ladysmith

Men and women just need to bring along their enthusiasm and dedication

Police encourage the public to register their bicycles

It helps to have pictures, make and model in the recovery process from thefts

UPDATED with VIDEO and PHOTOS: One person treated for minor burns in Crofton fire Monday morning

Firefighters were called out at 7 a.m. to a blaze at the Twin Gables Motel

Public engagement on North Cowichan forest reserve begins this month

Consulting firm presents engagement plan at North Cowichan council meeting

SD79 finalizes $106-million budget for 2019-20

$2.1-million increase in revenue from previous year

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

Most Read