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Winnipeg - Churchill -gone forever? Churchill abandoned?

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Just found some old news like

Perhaps I missed discussion here?

Found little recent news about restoring service.

Will Churchill become a ghost town?

 

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I saw a BBC TV programme about Churchill last winter, and the town looked pretty badly hit by the closure of the port activities. I gather the same company owns the railtrack, but I might be wrong on that.

It seems to me that if the town has only 900 inhabitants, that would make it hard to justify repairing such severe damage, especially if the track owners want out of Churchill.

Fingers crossed things do get repaired, it has been on my wish list to visit Churchill by rail, ever since I found out it was even possible!

 

Ed.

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This article just showed up in the New York Times the other day:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/world/canada/canada-climate-change-arctic.html

 

It notes that a US-based company called OmniTRAX owns the railroad and the port, but can't justify the cost of the repair because they fear climate change is causing uncertainty in how long such a fix would last until the next event wipes it out.

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And with the port closed and grain traffic no longer shipped through Churchill, there is really not enough traffic to support a rail connection, especially when major rehabilitation of the line is required.

 

Personally, I think the ultimate solution will be the First Nations take it over with Canadian Federal government financial support, as has happened in Labrador and elsewhere in Manitoba (Pukatawagan) since there are no other transportation alternatives.

 

As to Churchill's very existence, there is little economic reason to exist without the Port. Being a place where medical and government services are available for a large and remote area would be the reason it might not become a ghost town. It has always required a large measure of government support (my understanding is the reason the Port even existed was basically political, originally with the western provinces not wanting to be wholly dependent on eastern Canada to ship grain across the Atlantic. I was surprised when I found the amount of historic regional friction there has been in nice, polite Canada, Quebec aside). It will require more assistance now.

Edited by zephyr17

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The ultimate answer to this problem is that the railroad will be sold to a First Nations Tribe and the federal government will pay to fix the tracks. As to the future of the port, perhaps the federal government will take that over as well. The area has a big tourist trade at certain times of the year and the railroad reaches areas that have no road access, so restoration of the railroad is possible, but will be expensive. As far as that trapped VIA consist is concerned, there has been some talk about moving it via ship --- or it could just sit there until the railroad is rebuilt.

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It would seem that with the effects of global warming, Churchill's maritime shipping season would be extended, perhaps enough to make freight (grain?) trains viable again...but I really don't know much about that...

I do know, that the ship traffic thru the North West Passage is increasing every year as a result...

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Here's an interesting article from about 2 weeks ago: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/churchill-rail-line-wayne-wouters-1.4281563

 

It is a bit dated, though, with no indication on what final disposition was.

 

In all honesty, if something isn't economically viable, then the ownership has the general right to abandon. There are many Canadian towns that don't have contiguous rail or road service. But if the ports are closed also, then the employees aren't needed there any more. No more employees, then the support economy is no longer needed. Lose the support economy, and you don't need the government services.

 

It's not how I want to see it go down, but do the tax payers of Canada want to spend that much to allow 900 people to live where they do with no productive income or business?

 

In all honesty, unless the government of Canada finds a strategic business model to incorporate there, while integrating it with a tourist industry, it would seem to me that those who remain need to find self sustenance or move down towards Winnipeg.

 

That all being said, I hope they DO find a way to make it productive, and viable for continued rail service. I have always wanted to travel that line!

Edited by VentureForth

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Now things get interesting. But it seems pretty clear the line is heading towards local-ownership. The question is whether VIA Rail continue to run the almost iconic through service from Winnipeg, or whether it becomes a service of the new railway company.

 

It's sad that the port has closed, especially as it now has more accessible days by ship than ever before. However if the railway is to re-open, tourist and essential passenger traffic has to be part of the picture.

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Churchill, Man., railway deal in works, say First Nations and private company

 

It's not clear whether this represents actualy progress, or whether it's just some public posturing to try get things moving. This article also doesn't mention passenger service. At any rate, the rail line does seem to be considered important, and it hasn't dropped off the radar of groups in that area.

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