Churchill, MB — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says rail service to Churchill in northern Manitoba will be back to normal by the end of the month.
Trudeau is in the community on the shore of Hudson Bay as residents celebrate the arrival of the first train to roll into town in more than a year.
The train surprised everyone when it pulled in on Wednesday evening, a day ahead of schedule.
Flooding in the spring of 2017 damaged the tracks and severed the only land link to the town of 900 people.
The federal government provided $74 million to help fix the railroad and buy it, along with the town’s port, from Denver-based Omnitrax.
Trudeau is thanking the people of Churchill for their patience and says their long wait is finally over.
“This is your victory,” he said Thursday as he stood in the cold in front of several rail cars. “I know times have been incredibly tough but the resilience and determination you have shown has been inspiring.”
Since the line was washed out, goods and people have had to be flown into Churchill and prices for groceries and fuel have skyrocketed. The tourist economy was hit hard and some residents left town.
A street party was scheduled for Thursday as part of the celebration with the prime minister.
Trudeau said Omnitrax showed no interest in repairing the line, so it was important to shift ownership to the community and to those who shared a similar vision for the North.
The assets were bought by the Arctic Gateway Group — a partnership between several First Nations communities, Fairfax Financial Holdings in Toronto and Regina-based AGT Food.
The federal government has promised $43 million over 10 years to subsidize operations.
“With this new deal, Churchill will have full control over its future,” Trudeau said.