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Company appeals Churchill rail ruling in year-long attempt to restore service

Last Updated Jun 18, 2018 at 3:20 pm PDT

Aerial view of the port of Churchill, Manitoba Friday, Oct. 5, 2007. The company that owns the broken rail line to Churchill, Manitoba says it is appealing a federal regulatory ruling that requires it to repair the track. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG – The company that owns a broken rail line into Churchill, Man., says it is appealing a federal regulatory ruling that requires it to repair the track.

Hudson Bay Railway Co. was ordered last week by the Canadian Transportation Agency to immediately begin repairs to the track, which is the only land link to the subarctic community of 900 people.

The agency said the company — owned by Denver-based Omnitrax — had not met its obligation to maintain service on the line, which was severely damaged by flooding in May of last year.

Hudson Bay Railway has said it cannot afford to repair the line and recently reached a tentative deal to sell it to a consortium of northern communities, along with help from the federal government.

That deal is expected to be finalized next month and would leave the new owners the responsibility for repairs.

In the meantime, and despite the pending appeal, the company says it has started getting repairs underway.

“We have initiated a request for proposals to contractors and other relevant trades,” the company said in a written statement Monday.

“To the extent the (regulatory) decision is not overturned or the sale of the line is not completed in time, the company is prepared to start the repairs.”

Since last year’s flood, goods and people have had to be flown into Churchill at a much higher cost.