Economy

CN, Via networks paralyzed by First Nations' blockades

CN, Via networks paralyzed by First Nations' blockades”

A small group of protesters have blocked the rail line in support of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, whose members are protesting the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in northern British Columbia.

Via Rail said more than 220 trains have been cancelled, affecting at least 34,200 passengers.

"We know that this unfortunate situation has an impact on our passengers travelling plans and we apologize for the inconvenience it is causing", Via Rail said in an email.

Canadian National Railway Co, the country's biggest railroad, said on Tuesday it would be forced to shut down parts of its network unless rail line blockades are removed.

The protests are in response to an injunction the RCMP has received to remove demonstrators from a blockade at the pipeline construction site on Wet'suwet'en territory in B.C. So far, 21 people have been arrested.

The decision to allow Coastal GasLink pipeline was given approval by all 20 First Nation band councils in the area. Hundreds of trains were affected as was the movement of perishable food, propane, grain, feedstocks and coal, the railway said. "We are now parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end".

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In a statement Tuesday sent to The Intelligencer, CN said "a public statement from the individuals blocking the lines explained that their actions are in solidarity with the pipeline opposition movement and are unrelated to CN's activities". "Without trains moving, there is lots of concern we're starting to hear in the community, and it's important to understand where we come from. there are 6,000 jobs that are involved in the transportation system, that are in Prince Rupert but also in places like Terrace, Smithers, and across northern B.C., and all of those jobs are reliant on the reliability and the service that the Port of Prince Rupert has developed over the last number of years.We're hopeful that a peaceful resolution can be reached and we can get back to operating".

"It's not just passenger trains that are impacted by these blockades, it's all Canadian supply chains", Ruest said.

The company also claims the blockades are also harming the country's reputation as a stable and viable supply chain partner. "We are now parking trains across our network, but due to limited available space for such, CN will have no choice but to temporarily discontinue service in key corridors unless the blockades come to an end". "The Port of Prince Rupert is effectively already shutdown", Ruest said. "The Ports of Montreal and Halifax are also already feeling the impact of these blockades which will have a trickledown effect on consumer goods in the next few weeks".

"Factories and mines will soon be faced with very hard decisions".

CN's chief executive JJ Ruest said in a statement that the company has obtained court injunctions for both locations and it is working with local agencies to enforce the orders.



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