Winnipeg, MB — The Federal Government issued the a statement regarding actions taken against OmniTRAX Inc., the status of the Hudson Bay Rail line and continued federal support to Churchill, Manitoba.
“The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the rail line to Churchill and northern Manitoba,” read a statement from Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources. “We share the vision of a safe and reliable rail line.
“Since the rail service disruption in late May 2017, the Government of Canada has been working towards the restoration of the rail line. Despite these efforts, OmniTRAX Inc., the parent company of the owner and operator responsible for restoring service to the affected communities, has not met its obligations. As such, today, Transport Canada sent OmniTRAX Inc. a notice of default of its agreement, demanding that it complete all railway repairs and resume rail service within 30 days. Failing this, Transport Canada will instruct Justice Canada to file a lawsuit for breach of contract.
“The Government of Canada will continue to meet with key stakeholders and buyers interested in acquiring the rail line. I am encouraged by the significant breakthrough towards an agreement between Missinippi Rail and One North to create a unified group as a potential buyer. I am optimistic that the partnership can develop a viable, sustainable business plan towards owning and operating the line. Their collective interest in regional ownership and focus on long-term sustainable operations represents an important step towards ensuring viable transportation in the years to come.
“In the coming weeks, Canada’s appointed Chief Negotiator, Mr. Wayne Wouters, will continue to facilitate discussions between all parties, including with the new partnership.
“While the Government of Canada remains committed and focused on restoring rail service and the transfer of ownership, we are also preparing for the challenges that may lie ahead.
“The Government of Canada continues to make concerted efforts to ensure the safety and security of the people in Churchill and other communities along the Hudson Bay Rail line. These efforts pertain to food affordability, fuel resupply and storage, community support and economic development. Our top priority remains the safety and well-being of residents impacted by the service disruption.
“In addition, as the new Arctic Policy Framework is developed, the role and opportunities for Churchill and the Hudson’s Bay Rail line in serving as a transportation and supply link to Canada’s North will be emphasized.”
A portion of the Hudson Bay Railway to Churchill, Man., is shown in this 2017 handout photo. The government says Omnitrax, which bought the rail line from the government in 1997, has a legal obligation to fix and maintain it under a 2008 agreement. (OMNITRAX / THE CANADIAN PRESS)